Saturday, April 2, 2011

Life's Constant Battle

The Bible tells us that there is an ongoing battle between Heaven and Hell, God and the Devil, Mary and her Son and those who follow them, versus followers of Satan, Truth and Error, Light and Darkness, a culture of life vs. a culture of death, (remember the lessons of Sodom and Gomorrah, after considering the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah because of violating God’s design in legitimate and normal sexual relationships or concerning the legitimate and normal use of sex), conflicts between good and evil, love and hate, greed and generosity. In the first book of the Bible is written: “I will make you enemies of each other: you and the woman, your offspring and her offspring. It will crush your head and you will strike its heal” (Gen. 3:15). Naturally since ideas enter into minds and hearts, this battle implies also the response in the very heart of creatures. When the followers of Jesus asked him regarding foods that can make a man unclean, He answered thus: “Do even you not understand? Can you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes through the stomach and is discharged into the sewer? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and it is these that make a man unclean. For from the heart come evil intentions: murder, adultery, fornication, theft, perjury, slander. These are the things that make a man unclean. But to eat with unwashed hands does not make a man unclean” (Mt. 15:16-20).

Jesus talks often about the enemy within as pride, for example, “anyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and anyone who humbles himself will be exalted” (Mt. 23:12). That’s a constant tone in the Bible. “A man’s enemies will be those of his own household” (Mt. 10:36). A Spanish saying is quite descriptive when it intones: “Tu enemigo peor eres tu” (You are your own worst enemy). Biblical lore keeps warning: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18). Precisely the seven capital sins destroy man from within, namely, pride covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, sloth. (see St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians 5:16-26). Better check and think it over. We always tend to blame others. But the enemy is within. So God’s word ever warns us: “Judge not and you shall not be judged. Why do you observe the splinter in your brother’s eye and never notice the plank in your own?...Hypocrite! Take the plank out of your own eye first, and then you will see clearly enough to take the splinter out of your brother’s eye” (Mt. 7:2-5).

There are temptations from the Devil and evil men, but man is free in his consent to this or that. We need to pray because we need God’s grace in this fight versus evil. Hence it is rightly said: “Prayer will make us leave off sinning or sinning will make us leave off prayer.” It’s always either one or the other to rule our lives.

In the last book of the Bible is described the Devil’s anger: “Then the dragon was enraged with the woman and went away to make war on the rest of her children, that is, all who obey God’s commandments and bear witness for Jesus” (Rev. 12:17). “War broke out in heaven, when Michael with his angels attacked the dragon. The dragon fought back with his angels, but they were defeated and driven out of heaven” (Rev. 12:7). In the first book of the Bible the Devil tempted our first parents Adam and Eve to violate God’s command not to eat the forbidden fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, a word in the Bible which means that God is the supreme arbiter of what is good and what is evil, and finite and created man is not to usurp such a divine privilege. (see Gen. 3, or the Fall of man.)

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