There is a seductive voice that lurks amongst us as a result of the sin of our first parents. When faced with a choice, Adam and Eve preferred to live in a world without God. The original sin opened a door where we encounter a battle between good and evil. This spiritual battle is ongoing because the Devil will not cease in his desire to destroy any relationship you and I may have with Jesus Christ. Even though the Devil and his fallen angels were originally created naturally good, they made a choice to be like God and thus banished themselves from the Kingdom of Heaven.
The free choice of the Devil and his fallen legion of demons is the same choice-temptation we face every day and one that the Devil will try to entice us to choose something other than Jesus Christ. At the heart of the fall of our first parents is the complete rejection of God. The Devil’s seductive proposition or temptation was that Adam and Eve would be like God if they ate of the fruit of the tree of the garden that God had forbidden them to eat.
St. John Vianney describes provides context to the Devil’s seductive nature as the genesis for any temptation:
It is most unfortunate for ourselves if we do not know that we are tempted in almost all our actions, at one time by pride, by vanity, by the good opinion which we think people should have of us, at another by jealousy, by hatred and by revenge. At other times the Devil comes to us with the foulest and most impure images. You see that even in our prayers he distracts us and turns our minds this way and that.
The identity of the Devil
Jesus identifies the Devil as a murderer from the beginning and we encounter in Sacred Scripture just how far the Devil is willing to go to convince Jesus Christ not to complete His Father’s mission on earth. If the Devil attempted to tempt Jesus, then anyone who claims to be a follower of Jesus Christ should expect the same spiritual attack. The Devil has no authority over us since he is not the author of creation nor is he capable of controlling us spiritually. What he can do is distract us and cause us to spiritually wound ourselves distancing us from Jesus Christ and walking away from our Father’s unending love. St. John reminds us that the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the Devil.
Is it the voice of God or the Devil?
St. Padre Pio describes the Devil as a rabid dog tied to a chain; beyond the length of the chain, he cannot seize anyone. And you; keep at a distance, if you approach too near, you let yourself be caught. Remember that the Devil has only one door by which to enter the soul: The will.
When Jesus encounters the Devil in the desert, the still seductive voice of the Devil attempts to induce Jesus to accept the carnal pleasures of the world. After a third attempt Jesus commands the evil one to leave and He tells the Devil that there is only one true God who is to be worshipped, adored, and served. Jesus’ proclamation of the Kingdom of God causes the Devil’s exit and with it initiates our Lord’s journey to calvary for the salvation of souls. An important distinction in Jesus’ rebuke of the Devil’s temptations is that man does not live by bread alone but by the Word of God. The Word of God serves as a visible example of His voice that speaks to us and call us to seek a nourishment of the spirit before a nourishment of the body.
The voice of God is restorative in nature because He desires to always draw His children back to Him. When He speaks to Moses in their first encounter, God desires to restore Israel’s faith in Him, when He speaks to the prophet Ezekiel, He exhorts His restorative Kingship over Israel, when He sends His messenger the Archangel Gabriel to greet and properly address Mary as “Hail full of grace” God informs Mary that the son she will bear on His behalf will reign over the House of David forever and His kingdom will have no end. We encounter in God’s restorative voice His continual desire to guide us toward our eternal reward, Heaven.
The book of Proverbs provides a subtle context on the distinction between the voice of God and the voice of the Devil:
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise dispenses knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly. The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good. A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit. A fool despises his father’s instruction, but he who heeds admonition is prudent. In the house of the righteous there is much treasure, but trouble befalls the income of the wicked. The lips of the wise spread knowledge, not so the minds of the fools.