"Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men." (Mark 8:33)With this statement, Jesus teaches us the entire course of salvation, the complete God-planned curriculum which rescues us from pain, sickness, suffering, aging, and even death. Yet this is also a statement which those of us living in the 21st Century can more easily grasp in its fullness when modern language is used.
Many scholars prefer a much more accurate translation of the original Greek version of Jesus' words: "Get behind me, Adversary, because you do not focus on the things of God, but the things of men." Indeed, our true nature, our holy life spirit, is day and night challenged by an adversary, but it is not an adversary outside ourselves. We are constantly tempted to fall out of grace into a way of thinking and seeing which functions as an internal adversary to our true spiritual nature by wanting to lead rather than follow.
In modern language, this ancient adversary has been given the label "ego" (the identification of oneself as a separate being). In his revelation for 21st Century mankind, A COURSE IN MIRACLES, Jesus explains very clearly: "The mind can make the belief in separation VERY real and VERY fearful. And this belief IS the devil. It is powerful, active, destructive, and clearly in opposition to God, because it literally denies His Fatherhood. Never underestimate the power of this denial."
It sometimes seems like every second or third moment the ego is busy attempting to maintain this sense of separation from God and thus separation from everything and everybody. The ego's tricks are legion: from puffing oneself up, to denying one's possibilities; from foolishly worshiping others, to judging others for "being wrong;" from seeking thrills, to languishing in feelings of pain or fear or guilt.
Like a left-wing heckler attempting to shout down a loving and reasoning voice, the ego forever tries to speak first and so loud as to drown out our inner God-thoughts. If the ego's voice prevails, then the natural experience of all-embracing love, bounteous joy, and delightful inner peace seems to be muffled, at best a seemingly very still and small inner voice.
Any thought which seeks to separate us from love, or joy, or inner peace is an ego thought. And on the heels of any such thought, the ego quickly tries to justify itself to us by convincing us that any judgment it makes, whether positive or negative, is "righteous."
In the baby step stages of our salvation from ego-treachery, we can help our holy spirit by diligent alertness to our thoughts, aiding in our mind's "neighborhood watch," so to speak (or what might even by called "homeland security"). It serves us well to monitor the ego chatter, notice when it attempts to sabotage us by trying to create a sense of separation, and do what it takes to stop it.
Some possible examples of catching ego thought and redirecting our mind:
"The thought I just had separates me from this person (group). I need not do that to myself! There are better ways to see this person (group)."
"I'm thinking I am not everything (everywhere; all time). Silly me! Why limit myself like that?"
"Whoa! That kind of thinking pulls me out of love (peace, joy). But I deserve love (peace, joy)! Holy Spirit, help me see with your eyes."
Note how paying attention to our thoughts, taking control of our mind, and asking for a new way of seeing opens the way for God-thought to rise within and assume a natural and pleasantly relaxing leadership.
Jesus is efficient in helping us. Our observance of his Workbook Lessons in A COURSE IN MIRACLES is one method of assuring a much higher level of security in mind. Every lesson helps us short-circuit an ego tendency and focus on thoughts of Truth which amplify our true nature, our Homeland.
While we are away from Home in a strange world, Jesus Christ tenderly reminds us not to worry ... it's only for a little while longer, we are under his guidance and care, and he cannot fail. Obviously ego temptations will arise as long as we are not living in heaven. But our holy spirit laughs at such temptations, gently restraining them, guiding them to follow behind instead of trying to lead.
When ego thus holds back, our holy spirit thankfully finds ways to subsequently use ego to serve the spiritual goal of an utterly amazing mind-boggling fullness of life. So when our ego does speak, let's be like Jesus in the stained glass depiction shown above and answer: "Calm yourself! Be at peace! I'm focusing on God!"
Each month our Holy Spirit gives a message which helps individuals open spiritually and understand Jesus' teaching.
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"...nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you. (Luke 17:21)
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