Fighting Thoughts – Past as Fault, Future as Fear, Sin as Constant Temptation
The devil, in order to trouble you, sends you all sorts of thoughts. About past, future, present, about the sins that you did or could do, through dreams or visions that may seem to be “from God.”
We should know the art of unseen war and see from which sides we are being attacked in our spiritual struggle.
And, since not all those who fight are also glorious, we need to pay constant and careful attention to the fight with the devils who trouble and tempt us from all eight sides: back, front, left, right, up, down, in and out.
Temptations from behind
The devil reminds you of sins you did in your past, so that he may defile your mind with them. Maybe you cursed, you stole or you were disloyal and he remembers you about them.
Our memory is supported by our imagination in order to picture the evil deeds we did, when we spent our life freely and without watchfulness. What is the devil’s purpose? To remember you of them so that you will repeat them. When you see that the devil brings in your mind the thoughts you abandoned and the sins you ceased to commit, know that he is tempting you from behind, with those that you have forgotten. He does not want you to forget about them, his purpose is to remember you of them and tempt you again.
Temptation from upfront
When we trouble our mind with the future it is an upfront temptation. “I will grow old; I will catch a disease; a war will come; a flood will come; this or that person is trying to hurt me, to steal from me”, and you start to trouble your mind with what you think that will happen. But you are troubled for nothing because nobody can know what will happen. These thoughts are brought by the devil in order to trouble and torment us with delusions.
As an answer to these concerns, Jesus said “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
Temptation from the left
Anytime that we will see the devils influence but still listen to what he says, either by word, deeds or in thought, it is considered to be a case of temptation from the left. I know that is a sin to eat a lot, but I still do it; I know it is a sin to drink but I still do it; I know it is a sin to hate but I do it; I know it is a sin to say evil things, to steal, to take revenge, to curse or to smoke but I do them all.
This is how we are tempted from the left, through the face of evil.
Temptation from the right
Temptation from the right is of two kinds. The first one is when we believe in dreams or visions and, believing in them we are deceived by devils. Devils take the image of Christ, of Theotokos, angels or martyrs, as the apostle Paul warns us “Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.”
When we believe in these visions and dreams we are tempted from the right. Another illustration of this temptation is when we are doing good deeds with evil intentions and not for the grace of God.
(Translation from Arhimandrit Ilie Cleopa, Ne vorbește Părintele Cleopa, ediția a II-a, volumul VI, Editura Mănăstirea Sihăstria, Vânători-Neamț, 2004, pp. 30-32)