During my childhood, I learned to tune out God’s voice in my conscience when I justified my sins. I thought I was living in freedom by making my own choices, but without realizing it, I was quickly becoming a slave to my human passions and to the evil forces lurking behind those seductions. At the time, I did not realize I was listening to and obeying other vices that were in opposition to God. It started when I listened to the voice of temptation through my brother and friend, but eventually those tempting voices emerged from within my own mind and heart. I discovered how quickly we can be seduced by our own passions, the seductions of the world, and by the deceiving voice of the father of lies.
These other voices are constantly presenting before us false illusions of distorted love and a counterfeit happiness which will never satisfy our deepest longings for genuine love.
These seducing voices gradually pull us out of communion with God, often imperceptibly. We may still be going through the motions of religious worship with our mouths, but our hearts have drifted away from genuine intimacy with God (cf. Mark 7:6). We become more like the Pharisees, the ones Jesus refers to as hypocrites (the word literally means “actors on a stage”). Like the Pharisees, we may find ourselves projecting our guilt and shame onto others, judging them mercilessly for their sins and condemning them for not measuring up to our self-righteous standards. Inevitably, the measure we use to judge and condemn others comes back like a boomerang to become our judge. We end up condemning ourselves (cf. Luke 6:37-38). Self-condemnation in turn increases our feelings of shame and unworthiness.
In the long run, listening to these deceiving voices only serves to increase our buried guilt and shame, resulting in a more intense spiritual suffering. As our sins accumulate, our minds become darkened to God’s truth. Our hardened hearts then are unresponsive to His love. We slowly lose our God-given capacity for spiritual and emotional intimacy and instead become addicted to sensual pleasures in our search of counterfeit happiness. Over time, the seven deadly sins become our replacement for authentic joy. We worship created things because we have lost the capacity to enjoy intimacy with our Father and Creator.
Excerpt by Dr. Bob Schuchts, from his new book Real Suffering: Finding Hope & Healing in the Trials of Life (Charlotte, North Carolina: Saint Benedict Press, 2018), pp. 136-138.
DR. BOB SCHUCHTS is founder of the John Paul II Healing Center in Tallahassee, FL, and is a nationally renowned speaker, presenter, and writer. He is recently retired from his private practice as a licensed marriage and family therapist, now devoting his time to writing and healing conferences.