“He puts no confidence, however, in his labors,and manner of life, until he obtains the things hoped for. Until the Lord comes and dwells in him in the full experience and energy of the Spirit. And when he tastes the goodness of the Lord, and delights in the fruits of the Spirit, and the veil of darkness is taken away, and the light of Christ shines upon him and works in him in joy unspeakable, then is he fully satisfied. …
“But he still has conflict and fear from the robber spirits of wickedness, lest he should grow selfish1 and lose his labor, before he is accepted in the kingdom of heaven, in the Jerusalem which is above.
“Let us then beseech God that He would put off from us the old man, and put on us the heavenly Christ, here and now, so that being in gladness, and thus being led by Him, we shall be in great tranquility.” ~St. Macarius the Egyptian
Lack of Confidence
A lack of confidence in ourselves and our abilities is common. We try something, but are not sure we will succeed. As a result, we fail more often than we should. Having confidence in ourselves makes us try harder. It also helps us make better decisions. When we have confidence, the things we need to succeed are drawn to us. When we lack confidence, we push them away. So confidence is key to success.
St. Macarius says we will have confidence in our spiritual abilities when the Lord comes and dwells in us. But in actuality, that is a catch-22 situation. The Christ Power, or Christ Consciousness isn’t going to enter us until we have fully prepared for it. In order to prepare properly, we have to have a certain degree of confidence already. It is true that if we achieve Christ Consciousness, we will have unstoppable confidence. But that doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t even happen with a few months of practicing spiritual growth techniques. So it behooves us to work on developing confidence on our own rather than waiting until we achieve Christ Consciousness.
Even before truly achieving Christ Consciousness, we do have the light of Christ shining on us. This spiritual light, that comes to us through the spiritual sun, does help enlighten us and give us more confidence. This encourages us to continue on the path to complete enlightenment and the highest levels of consciousness.
Yes, there are robber spirits that can fill us with fear and doubts. You can call them devils, demons, or forces of darkness. The name doesn’t matter. What matters is they can affect us. We must be strong and alert so we can recognize when these dark one are trying to manipulate us. They can also work on us indirectly through other people who they have in complete control.
An important point here that might be missed. St. Macarius is telling us that there is a Jerusalem other than the city on Earth. There is a higher Jerusalem a spiritual Jerusalem. And when you read things that prophets and others have said about Jerusalem, you need to know which one they are referring to. So when Jeremiah says, “At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the Lord, and all nations shall gather to it, to the presence of the Lord in Jerusalem, and they shall no more stubbornly follow their own evil heart.” or John in Revelation writes, “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” they are not talking about a city, but a spiritual place.
Put Off the Old Man
When St. Macarius advises us that God will “ put off from us the old man,” it isn’t talking about the elderly. By old man (or woman) he means the former man, the person you were before a spiritual awakening. So he is correct in saying that God wants us to put off that self and take on a new self, a Christ self. That is the purpose of all real spiritual training. But first, we must develop the confidence that we can do it.