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22 - CHASTITY: THE WILES OF THE ENEMY

THE WILES OF THE ENEMY:

The enemy tries to put as many obstacles in our way or trick us to quit the fight. Here are some of his famous tricks.
You resist for a long time then you are overcome, so he suggests to you that since all is lost, why not indulge some more and try later. Wrong!Since you fought with courage, all is not lost, you did not lose the war, you just got wounded in the battle. Do not give in and wallow in your impurity because that is treason!If you lost while fighting, you deserve a reward!To give in to his suggestion that “all is lost” and that “it doesn’t matter any more” is to help him rob you of your reward!So, stand up and resume fighting and do not give in to the thoughts of defeat, and the Lord, who endured the temptations of the devil, will pity you and help you.
The other trick is this. He suggests to you that since in the end you are going to lose, so why bother fighting? He tried this one on a monk and the monk told him, “One blow for you and one blow for me!” It is like a boxing match. You try to give your opponent as many blows as you can regardless of how many blows you receive. Only at the end of the match will you know the score !
Another famous trick is this. You fall into sin, you feel guilty and want to go back to God and ask for forgiveness. The devil rebukes you saying, “How dare you show your face or talk to God after what you have done!” And then he suggests to you, “Wait for a few hours or a few days until you are “clean” and then pray!Wrong!You come to God as you are. When the Prodigal Son decided to come back, he came immediately. He had the stench of the swine he had been living with allover him. He did not wait to put clean clothes on him. It was the Father who took away his filthy clothes and gave him a clean robe. The Father did not disdain the stench of his son. He was overcome by His love for his son who was dead and is now alive. He ran and embraced him even though he had the stench of sin all-over him.
Father Lev Gilet, an Orthodox monk noted for his spiritual writings, once wrote this, “You must be certain that in the same moment that you are committing sin, God loves you.” The devil may suggest otherwise but he is a liar.
So, as soon as you fall, immediately go on your knees before your loving Father and tell Him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before Thee, and am no more worthy to be called Thy son.” Immediately you will feel the warm embrace of the Father and His loving kisses. Once more you are on your feet fighting again with courage. Needless to say that this initial act of repentance does not take the place of confessing to your Father in confession.
Another trick he will try is this one. He comes and says to you, “How many times you have done this? Do you think God will go on accepting you every time you come running back to Him?” The answer is yes!For when Peter asked the Lord how many times he should forgive his brother every day, the Lord answered him seven times seventy. Don’t you think the Lord Who expects us to forgive each other seven times seventy every day will give us the same chance? As many times as you fall, come back to God. He will never turn His back on you.
A lay person went into a monastery and asked one of the monks, “what makes you different from us who live in the world?” and the monk answered, “We fall, then we rise up, then we fall, then we rise up then we fall then we rise up!” You see, we are all in the same boat! Do not over-grieve if you repeatedly fall, for Theophan the Recluse tells us that this is a sign of pride. Consider this as a remedy sent to you by God to teach you humility. One of the Fathers of the desert said, “Defeat with humility is better than victory with pride.” And Saint Isaac the Syrian tells us this, “Some please God by their virtues, others by their contrite and broken heart.” So, even if you fall into sin and show a contrite and broken heart, this will please God too.
Some people get discouraged because they have been trying for a long time without success. Someone asked Abbot Chaermon, how long it takes a person to gain chastity? He answered, Whoever has withdrawn himself from every useless conversation, has put to death all anger, concern and worldly care, does not over eat or over sleep, and yet does not believe that he will obtain it by these efforts, but rather by the mercy of the Lord, for such person it is not impossible to attain purity in six months.
How long do you think it will take someone who has not yet reached this level of spirituality to attain purity? Six years? Think of Amma Sarah, who fought for fourteen years before being granted victory.
Sometimes we can trick the devil!Like the monk who used to get very hungry and is tempted to break his fast, who used to tell himself, “Let us pray two more psalms, then we eat.” and afterwards, he says, “Just two more psalms and surely this time we will eat !” and he goes on and on. Suddenly he is not hungry anymore, because the devil gave up on him!We can use the same technique in fighting the urge to sin, say to yourself, “Let us sleep tonight and see what happens tomorrow!” This way we can postpone falling until we are completely exhausted, and gradually our staying power will increase and the frequency of our falling will decrease.
Finally, what should we do when God grants us chastity? Let us listen to what Abbot Chaermon tells us in this regard:
One who has acquired chastity should rejoice at the purity that has been bestowed upon him and should understand that he has acquired it not by his own effort and vigilance but by the protection of the Lord. And he should understand that his body will persevere in this as long as the Lord mercifully permits it. ... He should never trust in his own virtue, nor be weakened by a flattering sense of security knowing that he will be sullied (become dirty again) if the divine protection departs from him for a little while. Therefore, in all contrition and humility of heart, one must pray ceaselessly for perseverance in this purity.

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