The fact is that the way to heaven is not as difficult as people often suppose
The Lord has no desire to put roadblocks on the path to heaven; in fact, He gives us principles for our lives that will make the process easier. Here are some positive steps we can take to make the fight against evils easier:
1. Focus on today
When Jesus said, “Do not worry about tomorrow…. Sufficient for the day is its own evil” (Matthew 6:34), He was talking not only about our natural life, but about our spiritual life. We cannot shun evils in the past or future. The present is the only part of our life we have power to change.
“He who leads a life of faith does repentance daily…. For from himself man is continually falling, but is continually being raised up by the Lord” (Secrets of Heaven 8391).
2. Think about heaven
One of our most powerful defenses against evil is thought about eternal life.
“When the internal sight or the thought is turned toward the world and rests there, the thought in consequence becomes worldly…but when it is turned heavenward it becomes heavenly” (Heaven and Hell 532).
We can think of heaven as our goal and also as the source of all the good we do.
3. Use the Word
“The combats are carried on by means of truths of faith which are from the Word. The person must fight against evils and falsities from these; if he fights from anything else, he does not conquer, because the Lord is not in anything else” (Secrets of Heaven 8962).
The Word makes tremendous power available to us: the power of truth. The key to receiving this power is in the way we read the Word. This means not simply reading and studying, but reading with questions in mind, seeking answers that apply to life, and being willing to have your ideas changed.
Another factor is prayer: “The Word should be searched with devout prayer to the Lord for enlightenment” (Secrets of Heaven 5432:4). It also helps to read frequently, a chapter or two each day. Don’t let your mind run dry of the truth.
4. Tackle one evil at a time
Trying to get rid of all our evils at once by admitting that we are hopeless does not accomplish anything. Sometimes we may be overwhelmed with the number of evils we see in ourselves. But the Lord’s burden is light. He asks us to change one area of our lives at a time. If a person “abstains from any one sin” which he finds in himself, it is enough to get him on the way to heaven (True Christian Religion 530).
We can say that if you keep one commandment you have kept them all, “for as soon as one from purpose or confirmation abstains from any evil because it is a sin, he is held by the Lord in the purpose of abstaining from the rest” (Married Love 529).
5. Get involved in useful tasks
When Hezekiah was “sick unto death,” he was cured by laying a lump of figs over the infection (Isaiah 38). This seems like a strange remedy until we know that figs are a symbol of good works or usefulness. A simple effort to get busy and accomplish something useful can often bring us out of a spiritual low. Shunning evil enables us to be genuinely useful, and usefulness in turn enables us to shun evil.
“While a person is in some study and business, that is, in some use, his mind is limited and circumscribed as by a circle…. From this as from a house he sees the various evil desires as outside himself, and from sanity of reason within, banishes them.” (Married Love 249)
Just as hopelessness is hell’s greatest weapon, hope is our greatest defense. The Lord answers every attack of the hells, but that answer comes to us primarily as hope. When a person is attacked by evil spirits, “the Lord keeps him in hope and trust, which are the forces…by which he resists” (Secrets of Heaven 6097).
Actually, the reason why the Lord does not give us certain knowledge of the future is that hope is much more powerful than knowledge. When you are desperate, hope. Hope for the good that the Lord can bring from evil. Hope that the Lord can change you.
7. Begin now
The easiest time to wash the dishes is right after the meal. If they are left until the next morning, the food gets crusty and hard. Eventually, the task becomes quite unpleasant.
Evil is the same way: the sooner you face it, the easier it will be. As soon as you start, the Lord will work with you, lightening your burden.
When a person has made a beginning, the Lord brings to life all that is good in him, and causes him not only to see evils to be evils, but also to refrain from willing them, and finally to turn away from them. This is meant by the Lord’s words, “My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
The Rev. John Odhner is the assistant to the pastor in Bryn Athyn, PA. For more information, visit brynathynchurch.org.