Sunday, June 26, 2016

Paleo-Orthodoxy: Spiritual Viruses

"When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me". For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and  enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death."- James 1:13-15

Viruses are nasty things. They float about our environment where we inhale them and fall prey to their effects. We've all had a virus at some point in our lives, and we know the only way to fight off a virus is through rest and the proper medication. There are, however, spiritual viruses- thought diseases that we fall prey to all too easily. They take many forms, but the antidote is always the same-rest and the proper medication.

These spiritual viruses take many forms. Some of the more common are:
  • Illicit sexuality
  • Illicit drug use
  • Illicit alcohol use
  • False religion 
  • Atheism
We see these spiritual viruses all around us every day. They are in media, public education, and pop-culture. It is akin to being locked in a room with a group of people who all have the Flu. How long can one survive in that environment without the proper vaccine? Not long at all. These spiritual viruses are introduced into our mental "system" by suggestion. This is how all sin begins- as mental suggestions. Just like a physical virus enters our system and gestates, these spiritual viruses enter our mental system and gestate through our entertaining of the thought. We play with the suggestion, toss it around- entertain it mentally for awhile. Once we do so, this allows the suggestion to take root in us as a desire. Desires are strange things, as they can compel us to do things we know are not in our own best interest. You see, once a desire takes root, it is only a matter of time before it is acted upon without regard to the potential harm awaiting us for indulging it. It is almost as if we can hear that serpent's voice from ages past, whispering into our ears, "you shall not surely die." We're all too eager to listen to the snake, rather than to listen to James, who tells us that sin "gives birth to death."

Gregory of Sinai wrote:

"You cannot be or become spiritually intelligent in the way that is natural to man in his pre-fallen state unless you first attain purity and freedom from corruption. For our purity has been overlaid by a state of sense-dominated mindlessness and our original incorruption by the corruption of the flesh … mere skill in reasoning does not make a person’s intelligence pure, for since the fall our intelligence has been corrupted by evil thoughts … the wisdom of this world … falls far short of real wisdom and contemplation." (Philokalia IV, page 212)

There are antidotes to these viruses. First, you have to trust in what God says. Second, you have to rest in His promises. Promises such as:

"And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."- I Corinthians 10:13

Be mindful of your thoughts. Take them captive, as Paul urges:


"... we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."- II Corinthians 10:5

Create within yourself, in your thought life, the habit of meditating on good things- on God centered things. 

"Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things."- Philippians 4:8

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