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The Devil Seems Reasonable
Christ faced three temptations in particular: satisfy yourself; magnify yourself; compromise yourself.
Satisfy yourself with food, sex, money and power - and as soon as possible.
Magnify yourself. Make a sensation of yourself. Make your mark. Climb a ladder so that you are in a better position to influence things.
The devil seems very reasonable, keen to help.
Compromise yourself. Come to terms with the world. Don't overdo it.
It is very unattractive to be fanatical. You can easily presume that going all-out for God will make you a fanatic, when rather it can make you unselfish, and give you the sanity that comes when you're not in love with yourself.
These temptations all contain half-truths, and they all have one thing in common, yourself. They aim to put me in the centre.
'A lie which is half a truth is ever the blackest of lies. A lie which is all a lie may be met with and fought with outright. But a lie which is part a truth is a harder matter to fight.' (Tennyson)
In Milton's Paradise Lost, Satan sets out to win Adam and succeeds. In his Paradise Regained, he sets out to win Christ and fails. Christ is walking in the desert and meets an old man in rural clothes 'following the quest of some stray ewe, or withered sticks to gather, which might serve against a winter's day'. Christ immediately recognises this unlikely person as Satan. Later He meets him in another guise 'seemlier clad, as one in city or court or palace bred, and with fair speech'.
Respectable, reasonable, persuasive, working to draw people away from the Cross.
The American psychiatrist, Scott Peck, wrote in The Road Less Travelled: 'Most patients choose rather to be sick and have the gods to blame than to be well with no one to blame ever again. Of the minority who stay in therapy most must still be taught to assume total responsibility for themselves as part of their healing.… Frequently, like stubborn children, they will kick and scream all the way as they are led to the notion of total responsibility for themselves.'
Alan Paton of South Africa wrote years ago in his book Instrument of Thy Peace: 'To love is to bring one's whole life under discipline.'
T S Eliot wrote:
A condition of complete simplicity,
Costing not less than everything.
What a contrast to the mediocrity that Satan offers.
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