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Close the Door to Bad Thoughts

[Heb. 7:18–25; Luke 21:37–22:8] Satan entered into Judas, and taught him how to betray the Lord; he agreed, and betrayed Him. Satan entered because the door was o­ pened for him. What is with­in us is always closed; the Lord Him­self stands out­side and knocks, that we might open. What caus­es it to open? It is opened by sym­pa­thy, predispo­ sition, or agree­ment. If all of this is inclined in the direc­tion of the Lord, He enters. If satan enters, and not the Lord, the per­son him­self is guilty.

If you do not allow thoughts pleas­ing to satan, if you do not sym­ pathize with them, or dis­pose your­ self to their sug­ges­tions and agree to do them, satan walks near­by and then leaves, for he is not giv­en pow­ er over any­one. If he takes posses­ sion of any­one, it is because that per­son gives him­self over in slav­ery to him. The source of all evil is one’s thoughts. Do not allow bad thoughts and you will for­ev­er close the door of your soul to satan. That bad thoughts come — what can you do? Nobody on the earth is with­out them; there is no sin here. Chase them away, and that will end every­ thing. If they come again, chase them away again — and so on for your entire life. When you accept thoughts and become engaged in them, it is not sur­pris­ing that sym­ pathy toward them appears as well; then they become even more persis­ tent. After sym­pa­thy come bad in­ ten­tions either for these or oth­er bad deeds. Vague inten­tions then define them­selves by an incli­na­tion toward one thing or anoth­er. Choice, agree­ment and res­olute­ness set in, and then sin is with­in! The door of the heart is opened wide. As soon as agree­ment forms, satan jumps in and begins to tyr­an­nize. Then the poor soul is dri­ven weari­ some­ly like a slave or a pack-ani­ mal into doing inde­cent things. If it had not allowed bad thoughts, noth­ ing of the sort would have happen­ ed.

Saint Theo­phan the Recluse