The Lord’s Prayer
What is temptation?
Mark 1:13. And [Jesus] was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him.
NJHD 187. Only those who are being regenerated undergo spiritual temptations, for spiritual temptations are pains of mind induced by evil spirits with those who are in goods and truths. While those spirits are exciting the evils which are with them, there arises the anxiety of temptation. Man does not know where this anxiety comes from because he does not know its origin.
188. For there are both evil and good spirits with every man; the evil spirits are in his evils, and the good spirits in his goods. When the evil spirits approach they draw forth his evils, while the good spirits, on the contrary, draw forth his goods. From this collision and combat arise, from which the man has interior anxiety, which is temptation. Hence it is plain that temptations are not induced by heaven, but by hell; which is also the faith of the church, which teaches that God tempts no one.
189. Interior anxieties are also experienced by those who are not in goods and truths; but they are natural, not spiritual anxieties. The two are distinguished by this, that natural anxieties have worldly things for their objects, but spiritual anxieties, heavenly things.
190. In temptations, the dominion of good over evil, or of evil over good, is what is in contention. Evil, which wills to have dominion, is in the natural or external man, and good is in the spiritual or internal man. If evil conquers, the natural man has dominion; if good conquers, the spiritual has dominion.
191. These combats are carried on by the truths of faith which are from the Word. From these, man must combat against evils and falsities; for if he combats from any other principles, he cannot conquer, because in these alone the Lord is present. Because this combat is carried on by the truths of faith, therefore man is not admitted into it until he is in the knowledges of good and truth, and has thence obtained some spiritual life. Therefore such combats do not take place till man has arrived at years of maturity.
192. If man succumbs in temptation, his state after it becomes worse than before, because evil has acquired power over good, and falsity over truth.
193. Since at this day faith is rare because there is no charity, for the church is at its end, therefore few at this day are admitted into any spiritual temptations; hence it is scarcely known what they are, and to what purpose they serve.
194. Temptations serve to acquire for good dominion over evil, and for truth dominion over falsity; also to confirm truths, and conjoin them to goods, and at the same time to disperse evils and the falsities thence derived. They serve also to open the internal spiritual man, and to subject the natural man to it; as also to break the loves of self and the world, and to subdue the lusts which proceed from them. When these things are effected, man acquires enlightenment and perception as to what truth and good are, and what falsity and evil are. From this, man obtains intelligence and wisdom, which afterwards increase continually.
195. The Lord alone combats for man in temptations. If man does not believe that the Lord alone combats and conquers for him, he undergoes only external temptation, which is not serviceable to him.
Questions and Comments
- What is the difference between the “natural anxieties” and “spiritual anxieties” identified in NJHD 188?
- What are examples of “natural anxieties”?
- What are examples of “spiritual anxieties”?
- NJHD 191 indicates that spiritual temptations do not occur until the “years of maturity.” What age ranges might this mean? And what factors would make the age at which one experiences spiritual temptations differ from one person to the next?
- What does it mean for the Lord to combat and conquer for us in temptation?
- What part do we have in the Lord combatting and conquering for us in temptation?