Saint John Cassian on Temptation


“No one doubts that unclean spirits can influence the character of our thoughts, but this is by affecting them from without by sensible influences, that is, either from our dispositions or from our words and from those pursuits to which they see we are inclined with a greater propensity. But they cannot approach at all to that which has not yet come forth from the inner recesses of our soul.”  ~ CONFERENCES [inter A. D. 420-428]

As Saint James says in James 1:13-15, we cannot blame God for our temptations/circumstances. We are tempted by our own thoughts! Some how,  some way, what we conjure up inside our hearts leads us to sinful circumstances. But this does not mean that any time there is sinful circumstance in our midst, it is due to our hearts. Some sinful circumstances will not even penetrate our hearts. For instance, if there is a greedy situation at hand, before your eyes, and you have no desire to partake, then your heart has not lead you there, you are simply passing through someone else’s problem and you may be called as a witness to them! But if there is an immediate pull on your passions when the sinful circumstance arrives, you can be sure that your heart lead you there…not necessarily to that particular geography, but possibly! But more likely and certainly, your heart caused you to notice that sinful circumstance in a way that either causes you to judge/condemn the person or join with them in their sinful and provocative state.