TEMPTATIONS >> Spiritual Combats
They who are being regenerated undergo Temptations. [AC 8958]
Temptations are spiritual combats in man. For they are combats between the evil that is in him from hell, and the good that is in him from the Lord. [AC 8959]
Temptation is induced by evil spirits who dwell with man in his evils and falsities; these spirits excite his evils, and accuse him. But angels from the Lord, who dwell in his goods and truths, call forth the truths of faith which are with him, and defend him. [AC 8960]
That which is dealt with in Temptations relates to the dominion of the evil that is with the man from hell, and of the good that is with him from the Lord. The evil that wishes to have dominion is in the natural or external man, but the good is in the spiritual or internal man; hence it is that in Temptations that which is dealt with also relates to the dominion of the one over the other; if evil conquers, the natural man has dominion over the spiritual; if good conquers, the spiritual man has dominion over the natural. [AC 8961]
These combats are carried on by means of truths of faith which are from the Word. The man must fight against evils and falsities from these; if he fights from anything else, he does not conquer, because the Lord is not in anything else. [AC 8962]
As the combat is carried on by means of truths of faith which are from the Word, the man is not admitted into combat until he is in the knowledges of truth and of good, and has obtained therefrom some spiritual life; and therefore these combats do not arise with man until he has come to years of maturity. [AC 8963]
He who has not with him truths of faith from the Word by which he may fight, thus who has not any spiritual life in himself from these, is not admitted into any combat, because he yields; and if a man yields, his state after Temptation becomes worse than his state before Temptation, for evil has then acquired to itself power over good, and falsity over truth. [AC 8964]
As at this day faith is rare, for the church is at its end, therefore at this day few undergo any spiritual Temptations. Hence it is that it is scarcely known what they are, and to what they conduce. [AC 8965]
Temptations conduce to the confirmation of the truths of faith, also to the implantation of them, and the insinuation of them into the will, that they may become goods of charity. For, as before said, man fights from the truths of faith against evils and falsities; and because his mind is then in truths, when he conquers he confirms himself in them and implants them; and also accounts as an enemy, and rejects from himself, the evils and falsities which have assailed him. Moreover through Temptations the concupiscences which are of the loves of self and of the world are subdued, and the man becomes humble. Thus he is rendered fit to receive the life of heaven from the Lord, which life is the new life, such as belongs to the regenerated man. [AC 8966]
As through temptations the truths of faith are confirmed, and the goods of charity implanted, and also the concupiscences of evil are subdued, it follows that through Temptations the spiritual or internal man acquires dominion over the natural or external man, thus the good which is of charity and faith over the evil which is of the love of self and of the world. When this is effected, the man has enlightenment, and perception of what is true and what is good, and also of what is evil and false; and consequently he has intelligence and wisdom, which afterward increase day by day. [AC 8967]
When a man is being introduced through the truths of faith to the good of charity, he undergoes Temptations; but when he is in the good of charity, Temptations cease, for he is then in heaven. [AC8968]
In Temptations man ought to fight against evils and falsities as from himself, but still believe that he does so from the Lord. If during the Temptation itself he does not believe this, because he is then in obscurity, still he should believe it after the Temptation. If after Temptation the man does not believe that the Lord alone has fought for him and conquered for him, he has undergone only external Temptation, which Temptation does not penetrate deeply, nor cause anything of faith and of charity to take root. [AC8969].
Conjunction of good and truth in others is provided by the Lord through purification in two ways; one through temptations, and the other through fermentations. Spiritual temptations are nothing else than combats against the evils and falsities exhaled from hell and affecting man. By these combats a man is purified from evils and falsities, and good and truth are united in him. _Spiritual fermentations_ take place in many ways, and in heaven as well as on earth; but in the world it is not known what they are or how they come about. For evils and their falsities, let into societies, act as ferments do in meal or in must, separating the heterogeneous and conjoining the homogeneous until there is clarity and purity. Such fermentations are meant in the Lord’s words:
The kingdom of heaven is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal until the whole was leavened (Mt 13:33; Lu 12:21). [DP25]
The Lord provides these uses through the united evil and falsity of those in hell. The Lord’s kingdom, which extends over hell as well as over heaven, is a kingdom of uses. It is the Lord’s providence that there shall be no creature and no thing whereby a use is not performed. [DP26
Jehovah judge between me and thee. That this signifies the Lords indignation, is evident from what has just been said, and thus without explication. No further idea of these things can be had, except by those who have been in the combats of temptations. In temptations there are vastations and desolations, and there are states of despair, and of consequent grief and indignation, besides other interior painful emotions and this with variety and alternation, according to the states of evil and falsity which are excited by evil genii and spirits, and against which the combat is being waged. The diabolical spirits desire nothing more than to find some falsity, in fact it is common with them to induce a falsity from themselves, and then at the same time to make it the subject of accusation. Hence the Lord’s indignation was so great, in whose first rational there was no falsity, but an appearance of truth that in itself was not true (n. 1661, 1911). [AC 1917]
Fear not, Abram, I am a shield to thee. That this signifies protection against evils and falsities, which is to be trusted, is evident from the signification of "a shield," to be explained presently. These words, namely, that Jehovah is a shield, and that He is an exceeding great reward, are words of consolation after temptations. Every temptation is attended with some kind of despair (otherwise it is not a temptation), and therefore consolation follows. He who is tempted is brought into anxieties, which induce a state of despair as to what the end is to be. The very combat of temptation is nothing else. He who is sure of victory is not in anxiety, and therefore is not in temptation. [AC 1787]
And God remembered. That this signifies the end of temptation and the beginning of renovation, is evident from what precedes and follows. "God remembered" signifies, specifically, that He is merciful, for His remembrance is mercy; and this is especially predicated after temptation, because new light then shines forth. So long as temptation continues, the man supposes the Lord to be absent, because he is troubled by evil genii so severely that sometimes he is reduced to despair, and can scarcely believe there is any God. Yet the Lord is then more closely present than he can ever believe. But when temptation ceases, the man receives consolation, and then first believes the Lord to be present. Therefore in the passage before us, the words "God remembered," expressed according to the appearance, signify the end of temptation, and the beginning of renovation. "God" is said to remember, and not "Jehovah," because as yet the man was in a state antecedent to regeneration; but when he is regenerated, then "Jehovah" is named as at the end of this chapter, (verses 20, 21). The reason is that faith is not yet conjoined with charity, for man is for the first time said to be regenerated when he acts from charity. In charity Jehovah is present, but not so much in faith before it is joined to charity. Charity is the very being and life of man in the other world; and as Jehovah is Being and Life itself, so before man is and lives, "Jehovah" is not said to be with him, but "God." [AC 840]
Whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it? That this signifies a temptation against the Lord‘s love, which desired to be fully assured, may be seen from the doubt that is implied in the words themselves. He who is in temptation is in doubt concerning the end in view. The end in view is the love, against which the evil spirits and evil genii fight, and thereby put the end in doubt; and the greater the love is, the more do they put it in doubt. If the end which is loved were not put in doubt, and indeed in despair, there would be no temptation. Assurance respecting the result precedes the victory, and belongs to the victory.
 As few know how the case is with temptations, it may here be briefly explained. Evil spirits never fight against other things than those which the man loves; the more ardently he loves them, the more fiercely do they wage the combat. It is evil genii who fight against the things that pertain to the affection of good, and evil spirits that fight against those which pertain to the affection of truth. As soon as they notice even the smallest thing which a man loves, or perceive as it were by scent what is delightful and dear to him, they forthwith assault it and endeavor to destroy it, and thereby the whole man, for man’s life consists in his loves. Nothing is more delightful to them than to destroy a man in this way, nor would they desist, even to eternity, unless they were driven away by the Lord. They who are malignant and crafty insinuate themselves into man‘s very loves by flattering them, and thus bring the man among themselves; and presently, when they have brought him in, they attempt to destroy his loves, and thereby murder the man, and this in a thousand ways that cannot be comprehended.
 Nor do they wage the combat simply by reasoning against things good and true, because such combats are of no account, for if they were vanquished a thousand times they would still persist, since reasonings against goods and truths can never be wanting. But they pervert the goods and truths, and inflame with a certain fire of cupidity and of persuasion, so that the man does not know otherwise than that he is in the like cupidity and persuasion; and at the same time they enkindle these with delight that they snatch from the man’s delight in something else, and in this way they most deceitfully infect and infest him; and this they do with so much skill, by leading him on from one thing to another, that if the Lord did not aid him, the man would never know but that the case was really so.
 They act in a similar way against the affections of truth that make the conscience: as soon as they perceive anything of conscience, of whatever kind, then from the falsities and failings in the man they form to themselves an affection; and by means of this they cast a shade over the light of truth, and so pervert it; or they induce anxiety and torture him. They also hold the thought persistently in one thing, and thus fill it with phantasies; and at the same time they clandestinely clothe the cupidities with the phantasies; besides innumerable other arts, which cannot possibly be described to the apprehension. These are a few of the means, and only the most general, by which they can make their way to man‘s conscience, for this above all else they take the great est delight in destroying.
 From these few statements, and they are very few, it may be seen what temptations are, and that they are, in general, such as the loves are, and from this we may see what was the nature of the Lord’s temptations, that they were the most terrible of all, for such as is the greatness of the love, such is the fearful character of the temptation. The Lord‘s love was the salvation of the whole human race, and was most ardent; consequently it was the whole sum of the affection of good and affection of truth in the highest degree. Against these, with the most malignant wiles and venom, all the hells waged the combat; but still the Lord conquered them all by His own power. Victories are attended with the result that the malignant genii and spirits afterwards dare not do anything; for their life consists in their being able to destroy, and when they perceive that a man is of such a character that he can resist, then at the first onset they flee away, as they are wont to do when they draw near to the first entrance to heaven, for they are at once seized with horror and terror, and hurl themselves backward. [AC 1820]
Author: EMANUEL SWEDENBORG (1688-1772)