The Safest Road to Hell

screwtape letters

When you think of Satan what do you think of? Do you think of the pictures we so often see of a creature with horns and a pitchfork? What about when you think of temptation, and how Satan tempts us? Do you think it is through some kind of “In your face” method like taking over your body, as in a possession?

In this week’s edition of the National Catholic Register, there is an article about a recent meeting of exorcists. It seems there is an increase in the number of these being performed throughout the world. But in the article is this warning:

Both Father Barrajon and Father Truqui pointed out that although the devil causes the sensationalism of demonic possession, he is at work in much subtler ways. Possession attracts “lots of attention,” said Father Truqui, “but we should be aware of the more common ways the devil works, through tempting, deceiving, pushing people towards lies.” – National Catholic Register

When I think back to my own past, I know how the devil worked through me. Very slowly and methodically. He turned me to sin, convincing me it was okay, it was alright to do these little sins I was committing, I wasn’t hurting anyone. How wrong he was. I was hurting others in my life, I was hurting myself and most importantly I was hurting the Lord.

Here is a quote from C.S. Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters” a book of letters written by a head devil to his nephew, helping him along on his way to being a really good devil.

“Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts,…Your affectionate uncle, Screwtape.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

How true this is!

Is God Testing Us?

Courtesy of Unsplkash
Courtesy of Unsplash

Have you ever been told that God is testing you? For example when there is some temptation in front of you, do you think it might be God trying to trick you into sinning to see how strong you are? I have to admit I used to think that at times, at least those few times I even gave sin any thought.

One of my favorite passages from scripture is the one that is at the top of my blog:

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13

When you first read this it almost sounds like God does indeed tempt you. He just doesn’t tempt you beyond what you can handle. But really what he is saying is He won’t let someone else tempt you beyond what you can handle. That someone else is Satan and his helpers. I guess this is where the saying “God only gives us as much as we can handle comes from.

I think back over my past, something I do way too much of I know, and I think of all the times I sinned and succumbed to temptation and I realize each time it was my choice. No one held a gun to my head, not even Satan, I sinned of my own free will. I also learned that God never let me go so far down where I couldn’t get back up.

There is another passage from James:

Blessed is the man who endures the trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one; but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death. – James 1:12 – 15

This is where we learn God doesn’t tempt us. Each of us is “lured and enticed” by our own desire. Take a look at the seven deadly sins:

  • Pride
  • Avarice
  • Envy
  • Wrath
  • Lust
  • Gluttony
  • Sloth

Each of these are related to some type of desire we have. Our pride will lead us to perhaps do things we wouldn’t to get ahead in our jobs. Avarice is our desire to get more “stuff”. Envy is when we desire someone else’s “stuff”. Wrath is when we get angry because we can’t have “stuff”. Lust is when we really want “stuff “and will do anything to get it. Gluttony is when we have too much “stuff” but won’t give it up. And sloth is when we are too lazy to earn the “stuff” we want. All based on our desires. The word “stuff” can mean a lot of things, it could be a bigger house, a new car, or a “trophy” wife or husband. (Is there such a thing as a trophy husband?) We are tempted by the desire for any or all of these things.

As it says in James. Desire leads to sin which leads to death. Just don’t blame it on God.

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It’s Your Choice

Every once in awhile you hear or read something so profound you say to yourself “How can I steal that?” No, wait, I mean, “I wish I had said that.” Something will just hit you in the head like a two by four, and just make all kinds of sense, not that getting hit by a two by four makes any kind of sense, well at least not if you do it on purpose. Unlike most of what I write which makes absolutely no sense at all, here is what I heard today.

I was listening to one of my favorite Catholic radio shows, “Father Simon Says”on Relevant Radio, and he made the following statement (and this may not be exact because I was unable to write at the time):

“God doesn’t send us to Hell, He rescues us and brings us to Heaven.” Fr. Richard Simon

Sometimes we will hear people say things like “God will send you to Hell for that” but what really happens is we send ourselves to Hell by the choices we make.  We are the ones who decides where we will go, not God, not even Satan. We can choose to do right, or we can choose to do wrong, it is as simple as that. Satan will tempt us, but it is we who make the choice to follow through on the temptation. Read the following scripture passage:

Blessed is the man who endures the trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one; but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death. – James 1: 12 – 15

God does not tempt us, instead we are tempted by our own desire. Have you ever wondered why sins feel so good? It is because Satan wants to make them pleasurable so we will desire them. If any of you have committed adultery you will understand this. No matter how good your sex life with your wife may be, there is something about forbidden fruit that makes it taste so much better. Unfortunately, that pleasurable taste only lasts for a short time, but by then, the sin has been committed. Satan will tempt you again and again, and if you are weak (like a certain blog writer was) you will succumb to the temptation again. If you are strong, with faith and trust in God (like a certain blog author now) then you will be able to overcome the temptation.

Either way, you make the choice. God doesn’t, Satan doesn’t, you do.

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God and Temptation

 

 

I have a tendency to waffle, at least with some things. I go back and forth as to what my favorite restaurant is (right now between a great BBQ joint or the brick oven pizza place with great Italian food), or my favorite musical, blues performer, etc. I do the same with trying to decide what book of the Bible is my favorite and what verse. I have learned my favorite is quite often the last one I have read.

Yesterday it was this:

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one; but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. – James 1:13 – 14

This is one of the verses that appeared before me on one of my random openings of the Bible. When I began my journey back, I started each night having a conversation with God asking Him to clear some things up for me. I had a lot of questions for which I needed answers  before I could fully commit myself to coming back. At the same time I had begun reading the Bible both on a schedule and randomly.

The question I had asked this time pertained to the saying we all have probably have heard at one time or another, “God is testing me.” We use this in times of trouble, maybe we lose our jobs, have some health problems or lose a loved one. Many of us, okay maybe only me, would rather blame God for our sins, claiming He is testing us to see how we do and really wanting us to fail, instead of putting the blame where it needs to be. That blames needs to be on us, not God, not even the Evil One, but us.

Yes, Satan tempts us, but we have the choice to either reject this temptation or follow it. God gave us free will and He will let us make own decisions. With each decision there is a consequence, whether it is good or bad, whether it brings us closer to God or further away. As James says we are tempted when “lured and enticed” by our own desire. We make the choice to sin or not. And the funny thing about sin is it gets easier and easier to do it as time goes on. Believe me, I know. Why do you think Satan makes sin so pleasurable?

But here is the good news, just as it gets easier to sin after the first time, it also gets easier to resist after the first time.

Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. – James 1: 2 – 4

And each time you resist you will be brought closer to God. As I said in a post a few days ago, each journey begins with a single step, this goes for  resisting temptation, and therefore sin, as well.

Trust in the Lord.

Here are some books from Amazon you might enjoy:

Jesus on Trial: A Lawyer Affirms the Truth of the Gospel

Rise of ISIS: A Threat We Can’t Ignore

Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: New Testament

 Blitz 2014 RR

Here are some other blogs for your enjoyment:

Training Happy Hearts

The Peaceful Place