Why the Devil cleverly promotes love

hot_sauceOnce upon a time the Devil was happily lying in a lounge chair trying to darken his tan from all the flames around him. Suddenly, one of his most trustworthy henchmen approached him in an absolute panic.

“Lucifer! Lucifer!” cried the evil sidekick, “the end times have arrived! An individual named Emanuel Swedenborg has been directed by the Lord God of heaven to write about the mysteries of faith to the people on earth! We will be exposed! We are doomed!”

Ha! Ha! Ha!” laughed the devil. “Relax, my faithful friend. I have already read Swedenborg’s writings very carefully and have determined that they will have a diminishing affect upon those silly humans on earth. The seeds of God’s truth will be planted in the wrong soil.”

“How can you be so sure?” asked the creepy cohort.

“I perfectly understand human psychology—after all, I helped influence it,” replied the shrewd master of deception. “Every human desperately wants to be seen as being a valuable and good person in society, thanks to a misguided principle of self-worth. So I simply let them have their way and keep them in a delusional trance whereby they will focus their attention on love, usefulness and community—apart from their inner predicament.”

“Isn’t love and compassion the opposite of what we want people to do?” asked the confused ally.

“Noble deeds are destroyed by the desire for affirmation and approval. The human need for affirmation is from the malignant principle of self-love. I am the undisputed leader of self-love, which opposes heavenly love! By helping to convince people that they will find self-importance by becoming more loving and caring, I cause the seeds of God’s teaching to be mis-planted,” said the smiling demonic leader.

“Please explain,” asked the cruel crony.

“It’s actually quite simple,” said Mr. Devil. “While I keep people’s attention on becoming more loving, they begin to overlook the actual process and lawful steps of spiritual transformation. Goodness and innocence only comes from the Lord God of heaven. Everyone born on earth has a small amount of this angelic goodness placed deep within their natural mind, during infancy. Mr. Swedenborg called this residue of heavenly innocence the ‘remains.’ I can tell you that not much attention is given to this piece of information. This convinced me that I still had room to operate and pursue my craftiness. Now listen carefully. When a person on earth learns of some heavenly truth, either from reading or attending a place of worship, these ideas of truth act like spiritual seeds. But because the average person is so hung up about being a good person and finding approval from others, these theological seeds fail to properly germinate. They never reach their intended soil.”

The Devil stops for a moment to quench his thirst with a swig from his bottle of hot sauce. Then he continues the discussion, “The misstep people take—even those who fervently study Swedenborg’s ideas—is that they rarely consider that these heavenly seeds must be planted in their God-given ‘remains’ to affect anything real.” Since genuine spiritual Love only comes from the Lord God alone, only the growth of one’s spiritual remains permits God’s Love to legitimately grow and change someone’s inner and outer life. So I put all my effort in helping push people into focusing on outward empathy and acts of charity as if this is something that can emanate from their own abilities, rather than from God’s. I have succeeded in making people believe that if they do good things, they will neither have to investigate nor directly deal with their character flaws of self-love—which, thanks to me, they all have in abundance! This oversight ensures that God’s seeds of truth have no place to germinate but in their fantasies. Only self-vigilance and self-conflict allow heavenly seeds of truth to reach a person’s remains or spiritual soil.”

The Devil then looked deeply into his associate’s eyes saying, “If you don’t believe me, ask any Swedenborgian you meet to explain the concept of ‘remains’ to you—even ask their scholars. Few can. But without grasping this important topic, all these sorrowful outward efforts of compassion by humans in the world merely become a form of hypnosis, trance and self-delusion.”

“You are brilliant!” said the Devil’s nasty devotee.

The two evil co-conspirators began laughing uncontrollably and slapping each other’s backs.



About thegodguy

EDWARD F. SYLVIA, M.T.S. Philosopher/Theologian Edward F. Sylvia attended the School of Visual Arts in New York and received his Master of Theological Studies at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA and a Certificate of Swedenborgian Studies from the Swedenborgian House of Studies. He is a member of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (C.T.N.S.) and the Swedenborg Scientific Association (S.S.A.). Award-winning author of "Sermon From the Compost Pile: Seven Steps Toward Creating An Inner Garden" and "Proving God," which fulfills a continuing vision that God’s fingerprints of love can be found everywhere in the manifest universe. His most recent book, "Swedenborg & Gurdjieff: The Missing Links" is an edgy collection of anti-intuitive essays for personal transformation that challenges and inspires. He has been a student of the ideas of both Emanuel Swedenborg and George I. Gurdjieff for over thirty years. Read more about TheGodGuy, his books and his ideas at http://www.staircasepress.com
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6 Responses to Why the Devil cleverly promotes love

  1. Max Becker says:

    The flip side of the three headed god salvation by faith coin is the headless god salvation by works. The truth is GOD is good itself. Just like school ‘readn, ‘rithmatic, and ‘riting, man needs to go to spiritual school for repentance, reformation, and regeneration.

    True spiritual growth is what God desires.

    Ed, it is refreshing in the spiritual world with the light you are sharing and is much needed.

    Thank you.


  2. rob says:

    Damned if we do, damned if we don’t.

    Where is the good news in all this???

    Swedenborgism is just another recipe for despair.

    • thegodguy says:

      Dear rob,

      One of the Lord God’s biggest tools to defeat the misguided human ego is to bring people to despair. The Good news is that Swedenborg best describes “God’s Will” and how we are to resist and suffer our worldly and terrestrial loves in favor of higher heavenly loves.

      Spiritually yours,

  3. Lee says:

    Hi Ed,
    Nice piece! But I still think that God has the last laugh over the Devil most of the time.

    Don’t forget that God uses our ego and self-esteem as the engine for the early part of our spiritual rebirth process. It’s like the old (?) saying: “Get thee behind me, Satan! You push, I’ll steer!”

    In Swedenborg’s summary (in Secrets of Heaven 6-12) of the stages of spiritual rebirth described spiritually by the seven days of creation in Genesis, the idea that we are doing these things on our own (i.e., from our ego or selfhood–traditional Swedenborgese: “proprium”) persists at least to day three. That day, summarized in Secrets of Heaven 9, fits your “Mr. Devil’s” description of what he is attempting to achieve with humans on earth.

    God is attempting to achieve that too–not as an ending point, but as a starting point for the next phase of spiritual growth, in which the self finally starts getting pushed to the side, and the neighbor and God take over as our focal point. So though the Devil may be laughing, God still has the last laugh because God is using the Devil to achieve God’s goals for people on earth.

    Even if people get “arrested” at day 3 (i.e., never progress farther than that spiritually), they will still find their place in heaven. It’s just that it will be one of the lower “natural” or “earthly” heavens. Day 4 is when we start progressing toward the “spiritual” heaven, where the light of understanding reigns. The “heavenly” (traditionally “celestial”) heaven doesn’t arrive until day 7.

    Most people never make it that far, as Swedenborg himself says in Secrets of Heaven 13. But if a person makes it only to day 1, 2, or 3, overall that is still a win for God, and a loss for the Devil.

    • thegodguy says:

      Hi Lee,

      Thank you for your kind words. However I am conflicted over your statement that most people don’t make it to the spiritual stages described in the Creation Story of Genesis by days 1, 2, or 3, yet the Lord God is still the big winner. The Genesis story is about the development of an individual’s remains. (Most Swedenborgians miss this detail.) The “Devil” therefore cunningly promotes outer acts of kindness in people to keep them from re-connecting with their deeper God-given remains. I have studied Swedenborg’s theology for four decades, attended several Swedenborgian Churches, even attended Seminary – nowhere is regeneration in a person’s remains discussed or its particular elusiveness to the post-modern mind! Furthermore, even if a person where to inwardly develop to the spiritual stages of day 1, 2, or 3 (which is indeed a win for the Lord God) these souls would still greatly suffer the pain of purification in the spiritual world in order to get properly prepared for a heavenly life. Swedenborg did not spend almost three decades writing all those theological books just to help a minority of people squeak into heaven. The Lord God expects more of us!

      Spiritually yours,

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