“The city is prayer. Resistance is rebuttal through Christ Jesus. The foundation is incensive power. Let us stand firm in the fear of God, rigorously practicing the virtues and not giving our conscience cause to stumble. In the fear of God let us keep our attention fixed within ourselves, until our conscience achieves its freedom.”
-St Isaiah the Solitary
Death to self is difficult. But it is something that must be done. This can only be done in the city, and the city is prayer. What the demons want is for something to latch on to. If we are dead to everything but Christ we are covered in the oil of the Holy Spirit and thus their dark fingers find nowhere to hold on.
Do not be fooled by thinking that the attainment of some level of holiness automatically makes the demons flee. On the contrary, since they are drawn to dead things, we of all people are marked for their attack. “Wherever the dead body is, there the vultures will be gathered.” (Matthew 24:28) However, when they attempt to trick us with their deceitful schemes they are deceived. What they thought was death they discover to be the indestructible life of Jesus Christ transforming all things into a mighty doxology.
Of course the demons are defeated because they are weak and unimpressive, but don’t become elated that they must submit to the name of Jesus Christ that dwells within you. They will only use this pride as a point of grip. Stay in the city through humility and joy. Remember, your name is written in Heaven, in the Lamb’s book of life.
Stay humble through repentance. Confess your sins with tears. Be ever vigilant to put sin to death when it arises in your heart. Remember that God is nearer than your own breath. He knows the secret recesses of your heart. He sees the internal battle and comes when you call on His mercy. Never stop crying for His mercy.
When you pass through water or fire stand bold in His nearness, but not over-confident in your conformity to His will. Do not avoid the pain of purification for it leads to the vision of God and thus the unity of your own conflicted life.
Worship in purity of heart, not with sin in your heart or hatred of neighbor in your soul. If you attempt to worship while indulging your every desire this will only strengthen your self-will and insensitivity to the Holy Spirit. Thus, you will be overcome by distractions and laziness. Then the demons will be able to defile you and you will only experience more dissipation of mind, soul, and body. Your end will be destruction.
But, if you seek to lose your life and conform to God’s will you will be blessed with an overwhelming desire for Him. This will lead to purification and a vision of His glory. Your end will be intimate communion with the Lord Jesus Christ and His Father in the unity of His Holy Spirit.
Refraining from sin is merely the first step towards the knowledge of God. You must guard your heart from all evil at all times. But do not let your first seven years of labor be discouraging when you only gain Leah. Continue on that you may attain the true prize of Rachel, that beautiful shepherdess. For by our labors we gain entrance into the bridal chamber of the Bridegroom, the true Shepherd.
Ask for mercy. Be attentive to your own heart. Know God’s nearness and draw near to Him.
Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, and are in no way intimidated by your opponents. For them this is evidence of their destruction, but of your salvation. And this is God’s doing. For he has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for him as well— since you are having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.
St Paul the Apostle, Philippians 1:27-30