The best way we know how to get to heaven is to grow closer to God by forming a relationship with Him. We form that relationship by speaking to Him through prayer in every activity that we do and by receiving the sacraments on a regular basis. Part of getting to know Our Lord is discovering His plan. To get more specific, what is His plan for us? What is our vocation?
Once we discover that vocation, we have taken a big step towards fulfilling our goals of loving, serving and knowing God. However, we have also painted a big target on our backs.
Devin Schadt of the Fathers of St. Joseph joined Trending with Timmerie to discuss how the Devil will use our strengths against us, what his six tactics are in leading us astray, and how we can counter these tactics with a strategy of our own.
- Doubt. This is the spearhead of his strategy, said Devin. This is the cornerstone upon which the rest of his plan relies. Doubt is the opposite of faith and as Hebrews 11:6 says, “Without faith, it is impossible to please him, for anyone who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Doubt is the first step in the wrong direction and from there, every manipulative move by the devil becomes easier.
“[The devil’s] first objective is to get you to doubt God’s greatness, His generosity, His benevolence, His goodness, His love, all of that,” said Devin.
- Discouragement. Devin also refers to discouragement as “anti-courage” because it kills our strength to bear witness to God’s truth in the presence of hostility or pushback. Apostolate is going on the offensive and finding ways to inject God into our friendships, our relationships, our work life, and our everyday interactions. That takes courage! If we let the devil take that away, we’re on the defensive. We’re reeling, off-balance on one foot. Doubt gives way to suspicion and resentment. We cannot let the devil make us second-guess God, and we can’t let him take away our courage.
- Self-Deprecation. Self-deprecation often gets this pass in modern culture because its reputation is as a form of humorous, often exaggerated, ridicule of one’s self. Unfortunately, that’s not the self-deprecation the devil is interested in. Once we’ve given into the doubt and the discouragement, the devil is intent on filling our heads with half-truths, lies. He takes our greatest weaknesses, faults, and sins, and expands them to create this evil, God-forsaken version of us in our minds. With every mistake, we grow more disgusted with ourselves, convinced that we cannot be fixed.
- Projected Deprecation. Once we’ve convinced ourselves that we are beyond repair, we begin to take others down with us. We begin comparing the faults of others with our own to see how we stack up. At this point, we’re deep in self-loathing and it’s hard to stand seeing others who don’t see themselves as we do ourselves. We need to bring them down to our level.
- Disobedience. If we’re beyond repair, then what’s the sense in trying to be better? Why try to control our appetites if they’re beyond our control? So, let’s give in. At least disobeying or sinning will gratify us and make us feel better. At least that’s what we might think. For some, this might mean giving in to lust or greed. For others, gluttony or laziness. In any case, we fall deeper into the rut that we were previously climbing out of.
- Despair. So, we’ve given in to sin. Did it make us feel better? Of course not. In fact, we feel worse. We messed up again. The short-term gratification gave us no such joy that we expected. The devil rubs our noses in our grief, magnifying how evil we must be and how unforgivable we are. Why try? Why go on? Why not give up? That’s what the devil wants. Ultimate despair.
The strategy for fighting these techniques is to establish trust and truth. The truth is that when we fall into these demonic traps, we’re trying to solve a supernatural problem with a human solution. No, we aren’t perfect, but by that realization, we have to know that we cannot solve our weaknesses on our own. Our faults require divine intervention and so we have to trust that God will be that guiding hand.
“God, all the while, is calling us to faith,” said Devin. “He’s calling us to trust in Him. And that’s the antidote to all these fiery darts of the devil which are basically hinted at in Ephesians 6. What does St. Paul say?”
“Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground.
So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace.
In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all [the] flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6: 13-17)
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