When the devil tries to persuade us to sin, he emphasizes the supposed good of the evil action he wants us to do, while overshadowing the aspects that are necessarily contrary to God’s commandments. He does not say to us: Sin and offend the Lord who died for you on the Cross, because he knows that a normal person does not want evil in itself, but that he usually does evil under the appearance of good.
This strategy of deception invariably recurs. To induce a mother to have an abortion, Satan does not ask her to be pleased with the killing of the child she is carrying, but to think about the consequences of pregnancy, the fact that she will lose her job, or that she is too young and inexperienced to raise and educate a child; and it almost seems that that mother, by making herself a murderer through infanticide, shows a sense of responsibility in wanting to spare the innocent creature a life without love. In order to convince a man into adultery, the tempting spirit shows him the supposed advantages of finding an outlet in an extramarital affair, all to the benefit of peace in the family. To urge a priest to accept the heretical deviations of his superiors, he emphasizes obedience to authority and the preservation of ecclesial communion.
These deceptions obviously serve to drag souls away from God, to erase grace in them, to stain them with sin, to obscure their conscience in such a way that the next fall is all the more casual the more serious it is. In a way, the action of the devil is expressed as the “Overton window,” making the offense against God less horrible, making us believe that the punishment that awaits us is less terrible, and the consequences of our guilt more acceptable.
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