A Christian is subjected to spiritual warfare throughout his life. One person is more likely to have it more often than the other, but everyone is struggling with thoughts that can revolt against us at any time. We would have been able to avoid many setbacks if we had known the tactics of fighting sin and the weapons to use in different cases.
1. Our enemy and our allies.
St. Nicodemus advises us, upon awakening in the morning and saying a brief prayer, to come around and to realize that the enemy and the passion which attracts us and with which we often struggle is already there. Having realized this, we should summon up our determination to either win or die but not to succumb, for the victorious Commander-in-Chief, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Most Holy Mother of God, and a multitude of angels and saints led by the Archangel Michael, who are ready to help us, are also present invisibly at our right hand.
The enemy tempts us to yield to passion, suggesting that it is easier and more peaceful to live like that. We must immediately hear the voice of inspiration from our guardian angel speaking on behalf of all those who stand at our right hand: “Do not be afraid or fearful, and do not flee from the field of battle.” The Lord stands at your right hand with the multitude of saints, and according to the promise, The LORD shall fight for you (Exodus 14:14). Reassure yourself and pray, Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies (Psalm 27:12). Summon the Mother of God, the saints and angels, says Saint Nicodemus, and the victory will be granted, as the apostle says, I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one (1 John 2:13). Yes, you are weak and frail, you have sinful habits, and the enemies are numerous, but the Lord’s army is even more numerous. God wants to save you so much more than the devil wants to destroy you; the Lord of heaven and earth is stronger than the fallen angel. As painful as it may be to rip off your bad habits, it is essential not to lose the will to fight.
2. Combat tactics.
“Begin every day with the fight against your enemies in the name of God using the weapons of not trusting yourself and insistent hope for God,” writes St. Nicodemus. The main weapon in the battle is the Jesus Prayer, Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me! This is the all-powerful name, which is like a double-edged sword, and, as it revolves in the heart, it strikes and drives away all demons and passions. John Climacus also said, “Scourge the adversaries in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
It is important to note that we should focus on the passion that befalls us most often. The battle should go as follows.
1) Identify the enemy. Just like in a physical battle, you must first notice the enemy, figure out how numerous and powerful he is, so in a spiritual battle, as soon as you sense the movement of the volition, you must resist it with all your might and never allow yourself to agree with it, because otherwise you will let the enemy overwhelm your ranks and you will be defeated inevitably.
2) Mobilization. As soon as your sentinels have spotted the enemy, you must immediately order your army to line up for battle. This means to stir up an aversion to sin in your soul. We need to be angry with passion, to confront it, to delay its progress. Say inside yourself, I hate and abhor lying… (Psalm 119:163) or, I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies (Psalm 139:22). The enemy will retreat slightly from this battle cry but then attack again.
3) The battle. We have already done a lot to avoid sin. We saw it coming and resisted it, and we countered it for the first time, outraged by passion. Now the battle itself is to be waged with prayer to God, especially with the Jesus Prayer, the invocation of the Virgin Mary and the great saints, and the reading of the Gospel. This is the only way we can repel our enemies.
4) Counteroffensive. Once you have made your enemy back off, you shouldn’t settle down on it, but you should attack him and do damage to him, namely do the opposite of the passion. If you are insulted, say a friendly word, if you like to talk, keep silent.
3. Replenishment of the combat reserve.
Any battle can cause damage. Therefore, it is always advisable to restore your ammunition, namely to confess your defeats, to show your wounds to a priest in order to receive forgiveness and to be pardoned by Christ Himself, so that He may dwell in us in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. We must recognize that we can overcome the enemy only by the power of Christ. Only if Christ dwells in us will we be able to fight back our enemy well enough.
The spiritual arsenal of Orthodoxy is extremely extensive, and it is our fault that we are lazy to explore it and arm ourselves properly. Let us spend our lives more attentively during this fasting season, so that we may be able to hear one day, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord (Matthew 25:21).