Down with Delusion

The excerpt from St. Ignatius Brianchaninov in the preceding article was taken from a longer article in an issue of Orthodox Life from 1980. Holy Trinity Publications has graciously provided a scan of the original, along with permission to publish an electronic text of it here at the Orthodox Leader.

I encourage all visitors to read this full article carefully (i.e., much slower than “web speed”). St. Ignatius makes many helpful points regarding how delusions first appear to the fallen mind, how they then develop, and how they are especially common among “beginners” on the spiritual path.

As he says, “The most dangerous and most incorrect method of prayer is when he who is praying fabricates, on the strength of his imagination, dreams or pictures, borrowing them ostensibly from the Sacred Scriptures, but in actuality from his own sinfulness and self-delusion.”

1 comment on this post.
  1. Karen:

    It is indeed difficult to discern delusion. It seems our hearts have multiplied layers of self-deception in them. I find no sooner has the Holy Spirit rooted out and exposed one level of deception in me than another emerges. A particular verse from today’s mid-Pentecost Gospel reading has become key in helping me to discern whether or not my understanding of myself, the Scripture or of the Tradition is in accordance with truth-or, indeed, if I am even capable of receiving truth. I am speaking of John 7:17 where Jesus says, “If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether is is from God or whether I speak on my own authority.” Specifically, I have found true discernment is given in response to a heart that has been purified to want to do God’s will. “God’s will” is that we love others in the same way as He in Jesus Christ has loved us. If my heart is purified such that I am deeply and sincerely wanting to love as God has humbly and sacrificially loved me, then I will begin to discern the truth. On the other hand, in my experience, if I am wanting the approval of human beings, to have a good reputation, to outwit another with my biblical literacy, pious life, worldly wisdom, or some other achievement, or even in a self-serving way just to avoid God’s punishment in hell, rather than to serve another in love out of love and gratitude to Christ, there is a wide open door for the deceiver! Egotism is a fatal impediment to discernment.