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The Devil’s Negatives: Understanding the Enemy in Order to Overcome Him


Aleteia - published on 10/16/14

Simple steps to disarm the devil

Open the newspaper each day and you will see the devil’s footprints in our world: disillusion, distrust, discouragement, dishonesty, and indifference.

You have to understand an enemy to overcome him. Armies know this well; that’s why they send spies to enemy lines. They find out how many soldiers there are, what weapons they are carrying, their weaknesses, and their plan of attack.
The devil uses this same strategy. He knows us well. He has spied on us for years. He knows our weaknesses and we know very little about him. We barely understand what he is capable of doing. We can’t imagine his infinite cruelty, his deep hatred and contempt for humanity and for everything God has created.

He has many tricks to make us sin, and he never rests nor sleeps. He is pleased when we hurt our neighbor. He rejoices when we fall into grave sin. He hates it when we pray and seek God.

Legend has it there was a monastery in which the monks dedicated the afternoon to prayer. One day while they prayed, a fire broke out in their garden. From the window, they could see the tongues of flame that were consuming everything. One of them understood what was happening, and said to the others, “Let’s keep praying, brothers, nothing is going to happen.” When they finished praying, they went out to the garden and found all of their crops intact.

Open the newspapers each day and you will see the devil’s footprints in our world. We let him do what he wants, as if he didn’t exist. I like to call his traps, “the devil’s negatives.” He sows these negative attitudes in our souls, like the weeds of the parable.

How easily he takes away our:

Idealism, sowing disillusion;
– Trust, with distrust;
– Hope, with despair;
– Enthusiasm, with discouragement;
– Honesty, with dishonesty;
– Love, with indifference.

Why do we allow him? We are called to be happy and to live a marvelous eternity.

The Devil can do nothing against those who are obedient. He can’t stand it when you are merciful and when you pray from your heart. At those moments, he keeps his distance, on the lookout. He runs away when you frequent the sacraments. He leaves you in peace when you invoke the Mother of God… and he distances himself from you when you are humble and sincere.

I think that in the end, your safe haven will always be, “I will live in the presence of God.” I have asked myself many times how to achieve it. How can we, simple clay vessels, contain an all-powerful and eternal God? It’s a fascinating idea.

Today during the Mass, I asked for enlightenment. I wanted to understand, and suddenly everything seemed so clear and simple… In God, everything is simple. We are, generally speaking, complicated things. The answer has always been near, within our reach, in these words of Jesus: “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” (John 14:23). It was incredible! Suddenly everything made sense.

I have known many people who one day decided to change their lives. They wanted to dedicate their lives to doing something great. They began to discover and live the Gospel. I’m sure you know someone like that. It’s easy to find them. They have three wonderful things in common:

1) They know that God loves them (“My Father will love them…”).
2) They are happy (“and we will come to them…”).
3) They wouldn’t change for anyone (“and make our home with them”).

If they could do it, we can too. It’s time to get rid of those “negatives” in our lives and start over, under God’s protection.

This article was translated from the Spanish by Matthew Green.

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