What are Temptations?

December 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

Most people think that temptations are simply the allure of evil, the arousal of a desire to do evil. The Heavenly Doctrines, however, define spiritual temptation as the combat between good loves and evil loves. So there can be no temptation before one has regenerated enough to have good loves.

I will admit that this concept of spiritual temptation has always been elusive to me. My idea of such a combat evokes in me an image of almost apocalyptic struggle between good loves and evil loves. And frankly, I have no recollection of such a struggle in my mind. Perhaps this is because I have never regenerated enough to experience spiritual temptations. This is certainly a possibility; one which I hope is not true. Another possibility is that spiritual temptations, like so much of our spiritual life, are often times beyond our conscious awareness. Still another possibility is that I have a wrong or incomplete idea of what temptation is.

Yesterday in my reading of Cannons I came across this teaching: “It is known that the Lord snatches man from the jaws of the devil, that is, of hell, and raises him to Himself in heaven; and that He does this with man by withdrawing him from evils, which is effected through contrition and repentance. These two are the temptations which are the means of regeneration.” (Can. 30.9)

In reading this I was struck with idea that contrition and repentance are temptations, which are the means of regeneration. This thought is partially confirmed in AC 9077, where it says:

“these things are accomplished through spiritual temptations, which are the painful experiences of repentance.” (AC 9077)

That contrition and repentance can be tied to temptations makes sense. It is in our contrition and repentance that we struggle from the good loves implanted by the Lord against the evil loves we have born into, or acquired by actual practice. I still think that we are not fully aware of all the spiritual processes that are going on in our minds; but this idea of temptation being tied to contrition and repentance, at least gives me some hope that I have experienced temptations. Certainly, this concept of temptations makes temptations makes the teachings concerning temptations clear and eaiser to understand.

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