New Church Life March/April 2017 - Page 67

  -      believe, as is the truth, that all goodness and truth originate from the Lord, and all evil and falsity from hell, he would not assign goodness to himself and make it deserving of merit, nor would he assign evil to himself and make himself guilty of it.” (Divine Providence 320) What a telling statement that is! The evil thoughts that come into our mind are not of our choosing. They are enticements from hell, and we should not feel guilt because of them. But if, in a sane state of mind, we freely and rationally choose to act on an evil thought, then that evil does become our own. Strenuous repentance is then necessary for the Lord to render that evil quiescent, and to make us worthy to receive the grace of His forgiveness. Evils committed from purpose, from deliberate will and action, are what are meant by the Lord’s words, “what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a person.” But here we should add a note of caution. There are occasions when, under certain abnormal conditions, evil spirits can invade and overrun the bounds of normal human sanity. They can enter into a disturbed mind with such persuasive power that the protective faculties of freedom and rationality are temporarily overridden, leaving the victim in a state of utter despondency and unbearable depression. This can occur from a variety of causes, concerning which we can only speculate at best. There may be vitiated conditions in the body and brain, which can distort normal rational thinking. These and other causes can open the way for evil spirits to inflict upon their victim their persuasive and destructive powers. Their influence has the effect of interposing the normal influx of life flowing from the Lord through heaven. Actions taken under these adverse circumstances may not be of the person’s choosing, and therefore may not be imputed to them. The person may well have been held temporarily captive under the spell of this unwanted persuasion. However, our best protection lies in turning to the Word for guidance. As we come to learn from the Word what constitutes good and what constitutes evil, that knowledge provides us with a shield of defense. For when evil Actions taken under these adverse circumstances may not be of the person’s choosing, and therefore may not be imputed to them. The person may well have been held temporarily captive under the spell of this unwanted persuasion. 133