8 Satan IV -- Demon Exorcism
Last week's sermon was about how Satan invades and corrupts us--with special attention paid to a description of the mechanism of demonic possession. Today we will examine the various mechanisms of spiritual defense against Satan and his minions. As we noted last week:
"Above all, it must be remembered that Satan and his minions are FALLEN ANGELS, and therefore possess super-human powers of intellect and persuasion. However, they are not CORPOREAL, so their only power over us is the power that we, ourselves, give them to invade our minds, thereby gaining control of our bodies."
Hence, the key to defeating the Devil is the ability to block his access to our minds. Understanding the particular style of mental communication that takes place between angels and Man is another key to controlling the mechanism of demon repulsion. As Rudolf Steiner reminded us last week:
"Through the Angels, the Spirits of Form are already now shaping these pictures in our astral body. The Angels form pictures in man's astral body and these pictures are accessible to thinking that has become clairvoyant. If we are able to scrutinize these pictures, it becomes evident that they are woven in accordance with quite definite impulses and principles."
The "if we are able to scrutinize these pictures" is a pretty big "IF", but the implication of the sentence is that we certainly CAN scrutinize angelic communication with the apparatus of spiritual sensitivity that God has bestowed on Man. This is due, in part, to what we may call "the spiritual essence of thought" itself, but also, in part, because Man, more than the Angels, is a multi-dimensional being. We have insisted, many times, that Man's consciousness exists of many levels at once--that it is our ability to travel up and down the continuum, from one consciousness level to another, that allows us to experience the heaven on Earth that is promised to us by Jesus.
Thus, at the very outset, we see that God has equipped Man with powers of perception that enable him to sense the presence of the Devil, and to detect his insidious intrusions. As John says in:
1 John 4:1-3
"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already."
This scripture indicates that we have been gifted with powers of discrimination capable of recognizing the difference between thoughts that originate within us, and thoughts that originate OUTSIDE ourselves. The question is whether we hone and sharpen these sensitivities, or allow them to degrade, to the point that Satan's minions are given carte blanche to put any idea into our head that they want.
Last week we mentioned how the cartoon picture of a good little angel and a little red devil floating on either side of our head, was not an unrealistic picture of how things really work in the spiritual realm; we suggested that we do indeed have a good angel and a bad angel at our elbow at every moment doing battle with us, and with themselves, over the thoughts that we choose to validate within ourselves. Furthermore, it is no accident that the cartoon angels are pictured whispering in our ears, as that is exactly how they speak to us--through secret whispers, private messages delivered in subdued tones, just for us and no one else.
What follows are the tales of two great Christian Saints who did battle with the Devil, and overcame him.
In the portrait offered below, Saint Augustine, is seen, in his garden, doing battle with an evil angel trying to distract his mind away from a Divine Insight. The demon is trying to lure him away from the positive thought by getting him to read a book, but this feint is very cleverly parried by the good angel directing him to the just the right book at just the right time.
This sort of ongoing duel between good and evil is a very common occurrence, one might almost say a CONSTANT occurrence, in the spiritual realm; people, who have endured spiritual battles, will recognize it as being just the type of thing we have all gone through. We have all felt the intense joy of winning such a battle over temptation; we can also all confess to the sting of failure in such spiritual contests, the realization of which becomes apparent to us right at the PRECISE moment it is too late.
This account of Saint Augustine, is taken from the online article, Saint Augustine and the World, the Flesh, and the Devil:
Finally, in the garden at Milan we find Augustine facing the final temptation, the devil. He has renounced the world for the sake of the Gospel. He says,
“Of your eternal life I was certain, though I
saw it ‘in an enigma and as if in a mirror’. My desire was not to be more certain of you but to be more stable in you.”
He has also overcome, with the help of grace, his sexual appetite and has made the “leap of faith” into the arms of Lady Continence.
In all the previous temptations the devil is behind the scenes taking what is good and twisting it. Here, however, he works within Augustine’s own struggle. It is a struggle that Satan knows all too well and he is not about to go down without a fight.
His first attack on Augustine is a subtle suggestion that he cannot do what he is trying to do and even if he does he will be miserable. The temptation was whispered into his ear.
“They tugged at the garment of my flesh and whispered: ‘Are you trying to get rid of us?’ And ‘ from this moment we shall never be with you again, not for ever and ever’. And ‘from this moment this and that are forbidden to you for ever and ever.’ What they were suggesting in what I have called ‘this and that’ – what they were suggesting, my God, may your mercy avert from the soul of your servant! What filth, what disgraceful things they were suggesting.”
These whisperings have the ring of guilt sounding from their depths reminiscent of the one who said,“Surely it is not I, Rabbi?”
Augustine is able to shake off these whisperings. He recognizes that they no longer have the force they once had yet as he says, “force of habit was saying to me:‘Do you really think you can live without them?’”
[Sidebar: This, by the way, is one of Satan's most powerful ploys: to implant in the sinner's brain the thought that a permanent abstinence from this exquisitely delicious tang of sin would be a terrible, insufferable loss; Satan always wants us to hang on to our sins just a little, so we can return to them, if we really need them; to quit smoking for awhile is a thought we can bear, to quit smoking forever is to say good-bye to a dear old friend, even if the dear old friend is holding a gun to your head.
C.S. Lewis points out a similar ploy that the demons use: they always attempt to convince us that the only way we can get rid of them is to give into them. Thus, the terrible nagging attraction of our unwholesome addictions are perpetuated year after year by the thought that, "This will be the last time." I can't count the number of "last cigarettes" I have smoked before the final last one dropped from my fingers in a single, determined, positive act. Always, right action dispels the agony of moral doubt. The moral here is suggested in Hamlet's soliloquy when Shakespeare tells us:
"to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them."
Back to Saint Augustine:]
"After shaking off these “voices” of temptation the devil tries one last trick to distract the saint from the course he is taking. Augustine hears the voice of a child telling him to “pick up and read, pick up and read.” This could be seen as a voice from above directing him to his answer but I would argue that it is the last vain attempt from the tempter to lead Augustine back to the world, the flesh and himself. The devil disguises his temptation with the voice of a child. Augustine has already “shook off” the “tugging voices” of the temptation to habit and he has recognized and embraced the beautiful voice of Lady Continence. The devil uses the voice of a child because we think of children as trustworthy and innocent. However, we must remember that the devil is a liar and often disguises himself as an angel of light. At the very least the devil wants to distract Augustine, and us, from choosing what will lead to God. Often this is done by playing on our force of habit, pride, or by simply using the art of distraction.
In C. S. Lewis’ book The Screwtape Letters we are given a clear picture of how this is done. The senior devil says to his nephew, who is a devil in training,“I once had a patient, a sound atheist, who used to read in the British Museum. One day, as he sat reading, I saw a train of thought in his mind beginning to go the wrong way. The Enemy [God], of course, was at his elbow in a moment. Before I knew where I was I saw my twenty years’ work beginning to totter. If I had lost my head and begun to attempt a defense by argument I should have been undone. But I was not such a fool. I struck instantly at the part of the man which I had best under my control and suggested that it was just about time he had some lunch.”
The distraction appears to have worked because Augustine begins to think back through his life trying to remember if he has ever heard a game with those words being chanted, “pick up and read, pick up and read.” The beginning of this thought process could have been enough to lead him away from his “agony in the garden.” He could have easily thought of another game he played when he was young which could have turned his thoughts to how much he enjoyed the games and on to how much he enjoys all of his “habits.”
This distraction could have worked this way but Augustine stays focused and believes he is to read something. This too is another chance for Satan to lead Augustine away from God. Since Augustine and his friends were learned men they surely had many different books lying around to “pick up and read” and he could have easily been lead to do so if it weren’t for grace constantly working against this work of the devil.
In the end Augustine picks up the Letter to the Romans and in this letter Augustine finds his answer. The interesting thing is that if his eyes would have rested upon any other quote from that sacred book the result would have surely been the same for the entire book from the beginning to the end calls us to set aside the workings of the flesh."
Next is an account of Martin Luther's association with demons and with Satan, specifically, throughout his life. This selection illustrates something I have said from this pulpit many times-that we can be confused by mental structures, but the faith that penetrates to the heart is the omniscient authority in all spiritual issues.
Luther and the Devil--Heiko A. Oberman
"The legacy of Luther’s parental home entailed more than a proper respect for hard work and deep erudition; it included also the at once wondrous and scary world of spirits, Devil and witchcraft, which the modern mind has come to call superstition. It is indeed not immediately clear what one should make of Luther’s account of 1533 in which he so confidently takes for granted the existence of witches and witchcraft. Yet this too is part of the historical record:
Doctor Martinus said a great deal about witchcraft, about asthma and hobgoblins, how once his mother was pestered so terribly by her neighbor, a witch, that she had to be exceedingly friendly and kind to her in order to appease her. The witch had cast a spell over the children so that they screamed as if they were close to death. And when a preacher merely admonished his neighbor in general words [without mentioning her by name], she bewitched him so as to make him die; there was no medicine that could help him. She had taken the soil on which he had walked, thrown it into the water, and bewitched him in this way, for without that soil he could not regain his health."
[Sidebar: The preceding account of witchcraft conforms to the magical techniques we often ascribe to Haitian voodoo. However, I have recently been reading The Golden Bough by Sir James George Frazer, and have learned that such magical practices are far from the exclusive domain of the Caribbean, but, rather, are performed in evil rituals, in many different forms, throughout the entire world.
The witch mentioned above uses the very earth upon which the preacher walked as the physical medium through which she was able to cast her spell; Frazer mentions other witches who use the hair, spittle, scraps of clothing, even the excrement of their chosen victims, to enable their evil influence. Although he makes a huge long list of these different rituals which are used for the possession or control of targeted victims, Frazer always pooh-poohs the rituals as mere superstition with no basis in reality. Clearly, although the common man relishes taking superstitious principles and applying them constantly throughout his life, there may certainly be no basis to many of them; but the fact that they emerged in the human consciousness at all, implies that there must, somewhere, be a point of origin for these superstitions; that there is in fact some truth to the idea that human beings can exert magical influence over their victims.
As we have heard from C.S. Lewis, repeatedly, the devil is pleased by the human's unwholesome interest in the demons; taking such an unwholesome interest in magic, thereby turning demons into the obsession of an ever-present threat, gives Satan many convenient perches, and must, therefore, most certainly be considered a bad thing. However, remember C.S. Lewis's opposite warning that the denial of the existence of the demons gives Satan just as firm a foothold in the mind of the materialist. Further down, we will observe an important contribution Luther made to the medieval attitude toward magic: his idea, like Lewis's was not to renounce the existence of witches, but, simply, to put them in their proper perspective: giving the devil his due, so to speak.]
"If this story were not virtually forgotten, it would be grist for the mills of both Luther-disparagers and admirers. The witch’s tale fits perfectly into that tenacious tradition which continues to portray Luther’s mother as a backward peasant woman. It is she who is purported to have introduced young Martin to a world full of demons and to have put fear of the Devil into that soul already weighed down by his strong, willful father. The old bathhouse story of mother Margaret enjoying intercourse with the Devil would thus, in a new, psychological form, find its way into Luther’s biography: If Martin was not begotten by the Devil, he was at least raised with him.
There is no way to grasp Luther’s milieu of experience and faith unless one has an acute sense of his view of Christian existence between God and the Devil: without a recognition of Satan’s power, belief in Christ is reduced to an idea about Christ -- and Luther’s faith becomes a confused delusion in keeping with the tenor of his time.
To Luther Christmas was the central feast: "God for us." But that directly implies "the Devil against us." This new belief in the Devil is such an integral part of the Reformation discovery that if the reality of the powers inimical to God is not grasped, the incarnation of Christ, as well as the justification and temptation of the sinner, are reduced to ideas of the mind rather than experiences of faith. That is what Luther’s battle against the Devil meant to convey. Centuries separate Luther from a modern world which has renounced and long since exorcised the Devil, thus finding it hard to see the difference between this kind of religion and medieval witchcraft. But Luther distinguished sharply between faith and superstition. He understood the hellish fears of his time, then discovered in the Scriptures the true thrust and threat of Satan and experienced himself the Devil’s trials and temptations. Consequently he, unlike any theologian before or after him, was able to disperse the fog of witches’ sabbath and sorcery and show the adversary for what he really was: violent toward God, man and the world. To make light of the Devil is to distort faith. "The only way to drive away the Devil is through faith in Christ, by saying: ‘I have been baptized, I am a Christian."’
The following chronicle of his own encounter with the Devil as a poltergeist has a clearly medieval ring:It is not a unique, unheard-of thing for the Devil to thump about and haunt houses. In our monastery in Wittenberg I heard him distinctly. For when I began to lecture on the Book of Psalms and I was sitting in the refectory after we had sung matins, studying and writing my notes, the Devil came and thudded three times in the storage chamber [the area behind the stove] as if dragging a bushel away. Finally, as it did not want to stop, I collected my books and went to bed. I still regret to this hour that I did not sit him out, to discover what else the Devil wanted to do. I also heard him once over my chamber in the monastery.
The final passage, with its pointed formulation and its underlying expression of contempt for the Devil, was amazing at the time and is overlooked today: "But when I realized that it was Satan, I rolled over and went back to sleep again." It is not as a poltergeist that the Devil discloses his true nature, but as the adversary who thwarts the Word of God; only then is he really to be feared. He seeks to capture the conscience, can quote the Scriptures without fault, and is more pious than God -- that is satanical.When I awoke last night, the Devil came and wanted to debate with me; he rebuked and reproached me, arguing that I was a sinner. To this I replied: Tell me something new, Devil! I already know that perfectly well; I have committed many a solid and real sin. Indeed there must be good honest sins -- not fabricated and invented ones -- for God to forgive for His beloved Son’s sake, who took all my sins upon Him so that now the sins I have committed are no longer mine but belong to Christ. This wonderful gift of God I am not prepared to deny [in my response to the Devil], but want to acknowledge and confess."
There is one more Luther story that I always get a kick out of.
"Doctor Luther at the Wartburg:
Doctor Luther sat at the Wartburg translating the Bible. The Devil did not like this and wanted to disturb the sacred work, but when he tried to tempt him, Luther grabbed the ink pot from which he was writing, and threw it at the Evil One’s head. Still today they show the room and the chair where Luther was sitting. Today, the tour guides at the Wartburg do not mention the incident and the stain to tourists. The stain has, I have heard, either faded away or been removed by someone embarrassed by the perceived silliness of the story."
[Sidebar: Note the expression "perceived silliness". In a materialist age, in which the Devil's existence is not acknowledged, it would, indeed, seem silly to throw an ink pot at a corner of the room, making a big mess. However, I have every confidence that this is a true story: I am sure the devil sought to tempt one of the great Saints, in his study, in the just same way he tempted Jesus in the desert; I'm sure that Luther's effort of will, not the ink chased the devil away; and I'm also sure that the person who scrubbed away that ink stain could hear Satan laughing uproariously.]
At last we come to the section on the Armor of God.
Last week, and so far today, we have spoken of devils and how they take charge of us. Now we will examine strategies for dealing with them; for, to move successfully up the spiritual path, we must learn how demonic assaults may be repelled. Easier said than done, to be sure.
As mentioned above:
the Devil cannot withstand the opposition of righteous will power.
But righteous will power is not dispensed, like over-the-counter prescription drugs. Will power is a virtue the formation of which is a long and difficult process, beset by many failures and backslides. Nevertheless, the price we pay for failing to learn will power is higher than any effort that can be expended in its acquisition.
There are several approaches mentioned below, but they all add up to what the apostle calls "The Armor of God."
The armor of God is mentioned specifically in:
"10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;
18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—"
[Sidebar: Notice that the armor of God is not just a single item, it is a whole arsenal of weapons:
1.) the breastplate of righteousness,
2.) the shield of faith,
3.) the helmet of salvation, and
4.) the sword of the Spirit
Thus, the WHOLE armor of God is a bundle of figurative defenses, which, if thought of in their in their imaginary forms, become weapons which the moral imagination can use in defense against Satan and his minions.
What follows are various formulae for creating in yourself the weapons of the armor of God. All of the following techniques are mere variations on the principle of using will power to fix your attention on the light, and keeping yourself from being distracted by Satan, looking backward into the dark.]
"But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”"
1 Peter 5:8
"Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."
[Sidebar: Note the expression "sober-minded". The scriptures do not invite us to spend our lives looking over our shoulders, fearing the Devil; but we are expected to pay attention. Nobody crosses the street in New York City using faith alone--we have to look both ways and wait for the light.]
1 John 5:18
"We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him."
"Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."
As mentioned last week:
"Satan is constantly attempting to implant tendencies, in our will, for wrong action. As long as we resist the wrong actions with opposing angelic pictures from Heavenly entities, all is well; but the wrong actions, motivated by wrong thoughts, are the devil's road into the heart. According to C.S. Lewis, it is not our thoughts that damn us but our deeds.
C. S. Lewis would also insist that right actions, performed habitually, assist in the formation of "virtues". Virtues are part of the armor of God which can lead to the strengthening of the will power necessary for remaining steadfast. Right actions create what you might call "virtuous inertia", or karma; surely it is easy to see how this inertia toward the good could not help but defeat the Devil's efforts to divert us from our sure course. Contrariwise, if the Devil is able to slow down our spiritual progress with any sort of intellectual or moral bottleneck, it is easy to see how he could motivate wrong actions which would eventually allow his corrupting influence to penetrate the heart."
Last week, we also mentioned the healing power of music:
"It is important to remember, in this regard, that the hypnotic power of music may be used as effectively for evil as for good; we recall the section from The Silver Chair in which the Green witch uses the thrumming of a lyre to dull her victims into submission. We have also suggested that TIME is a primary element in the creation of sin--the sequential ordering of events (the iconic fixation of which drags those events out of the realm of eternity and into the prison of material reality) is one of the ways our vision is distracted from the eternal down to the illusions of carnality. As the hypnotic thralldom of sequential repetition puts our minds to sleep, we are the more deluded by infernal implications and innuendoes. However, music can be more than mindless repetitions of carnal impulses: it can be reflections of divine forms, expressed in patterns of evolving, accelerating heavenly shapes. These shapes reside in the collective unconscious and are bursting with implicative symbolism and explicative emanations of positive energy.
Thus, the rhythm of music can represent the physicality of time, and therefore the physicality of sin, OR it can use the physicality of rhythm to open the heart to receive divine intimations of immortality. Music, when its rhythms are used to evoke divine forms, can become a powerful weapon in the Christian's arsenal of defenses against Satanic influence. The purity and perfection of divine forms, when placed side by side with the twisted demonic forms, make a very positive and very obvious comparison. A person would have to be very blind, indeed, to confuse the two."
Thus, the Armor of God will tend to include the immersion of the subject in Divine Emanations. Music is just one vehicle by which Heavenly vibrations are transmitted to the world; any great art will transmit Divine Energies into the material plane. Art is one of the sensitizing agents that helps open the door between the worlds. It is not the art itself that is the divine energy, and it is not the symbology of the art that is the divine energy, it is the subject's investment in, his heightened sensitivity to, and, ultimately his sympathetic vibration with the divine energy that allows it to manifest in our dimension.
Last week, this passage evoked an important point--the point about the Divine Authority which Jesus claims for Himself and all His brothers in God:
"And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, “Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.”
But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!”"
[Sidebar: This distinction between the authority of Satan over his subjects and the authority of Jesus over his subjects is worthy of comment. To review the words of St. Thomas Aquinas:
"Satan is only head by outward government and not also, as Christ is, by inward, life-giving influence."
This point is not merely of dogmatic significance, but hints at a strategic tool by which the subterfuges of the Devil are made transparent to the faithful, to whit: no matter how convincing the arguments of the Devil seem to be, they NEVER touch the inner life of Man. The litmus test of spiritual validity is whether the words only touch the mind or whether they penetrate to the heart.]
The sensitivity to higher vibrations made possible by greater and greater investment in the Christian virtues, engendered through right action, causes a protective barrier to be built up between the Christian and Satan's minions. The Armor of God is a true armor, a force field, if you will, that surrounds the Christian and makes daily problems which, for other people, seem overwhelming, and which for the Christian, seem merely inconvenient. The force field, or aura, even extends into physical space. When we become part of a heavenly community, this defensive vibration becomes a part of our daily lives, and we even forget about Satan for awhile, because his ravings, though still audible, are ever so much more faint.
In The Screwtape Letters C. S. Lewis gives an account of a house in which the active aggressive life of faith has created a barrier which the devils may not trespass:
"Then, of course, he gets to know this woman's family and whole circle. Could you not see that the very house she lives in is one that he ought never to have entered? The whole place reeks of that deadly odour. The very gardener, though he has only been there five years, is beginning to acquire it. Even guests, after a week-end visit, carry some of the smell away with them. The dog and the cat are tainted with it. And a house full of the impenetrable mystery. We are certain (it is a matter of first principles) that each member of the family must in some way be making capital out of the others-but we can't find out how. They guard as jealously as the Enemy Himself the secret of what really lies behind this pretence of disinterested love. The whole house and garden is one vast obscenity. It bears a sickening resemblance to the description one human writer made of Heaven; "the regions where there is only life and therefore all that is not music is silence"."
Christians have the advantage over other seekers after Truth, because repeated acts of faith make the whole armor of God stronger and stronger, and engage the protective forces of Heaven ever-more apparently. The Armor of God is an edifice erected by supernatural forces which both radiate Divine Light, and repel the energies of darkness. The so-called aura of the house described by C.S. Lewis, above, is that of such a Christian household, a household that emanates a vibration of wholesomeness, love, and protection.
It is very much like the experience I have whenever I walk into the Anchorage Christian School. To be sure, I am allergic to the Baptist catechisms which are the backbone of that place; its many dogmatic obtusities are somewhat repellent to me, in their simple mindedness, and in their blind-eye rejection of many modern advances in scientific thinking, indeed, in RATIONAL thinking. However, it cannot be denied that it is a blessed place; and, when I walk into that space, I can feel the protection of Jesus blocking out the most obvious invasions of the Devil. Despite our disagreements on points of dogmatic rhetoric, we have agreed on this one point: Jesus is our Lord and Protector. Notice, I say, "blocking out the most obvious invasions of the Devil", meaning there is a tang of evil discernible there, even as in the most holy of Earthly tabernacles; to be sure, the Anchorage Christian School is not a perfect haven of light and truth--the Armor of God does not come with a 100% money-back guarantee--but the feeling of wholesomeness and higher vibration in the halls of that place is so apparent that I don't think anyone who sets foot in there could fail to recognize it. Thank you, Jesus.
Recognizing the subtle vibration is an important key. We must first be LOOKING for it, but once we have our attention focussed, there are certain sensitivities that must be cultivated. Remember that, in developing the sensitivity to spiritual truth, we have identified, above and beyond the protection of angelic entities, several clear rational signposts that will give us the confidence to be sure that what we think, and say, and feel is Truth that will actually endure, and not fade to nothing as the transitory ego identity shifts with the tides of time.
You may recall several months ago, in our discussion of the epiphanic experience, I detailed a number of steps in a process by which the epiphanic experience may be generated in the subject. Certainly, the epiphanic experience is not only for the purpose of advancing the subject forward in the his spiritual evolution--it may also be used as a defense against Satanic onslaughts. So, I mention it here, once again, to remind us that every spiritual experience can be detailed into a process just like every scientific experiment can be broken down into steps.
These signposts are:
1. redundancy as a starting point--sure, gimme that old time religion, it was good enuff fer my mother and it's good enuff fer me;An act of faith is necessary to kick this mechanism into gear, but once the process has begun, the Light will be visible to us through grace and nothing else; it will be clear, and bright, and accompanied by music.
2. acceleration as the experience of the expression begins to gather momentum and mass; and
3. transformation--the expression begins to resonate with unstable but radiant Heavenly light.
Is my life more abundant because I have have executed my duties? Have I done enough good to erect a protective wall of virtue around my soul? Well, I certainly can claim, with full assurance, that the Armor of God has protected me, continually, from the strifes that attend the lives of many people living outside the fold of Jesus the Shepherd's protection. The bad things that happen to everybody have been less bad for me because I am wearing the the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. Of course, a little more protection is always a good thing--we don't want to get cocky or self-righteous about our good works when have the peerless example of Jesus constantly before us; nevertheless, I know that the Armor of God has opened my eyes, and especially my ears, to the webwork of lies that Satan attempts to push off on me, I am safe and secure as long as I pay attention, and keep my face turned toward the light.
Let us pray: Jesus, thank you again for your protection from the famished legions of fallen angels who seek our ruin. Give us the vision to see what is true, and gives us the grace to protect us from all that is not. Amen.