What is the devil?
In ACIM, there is no real devil. However, he does describe our BELIEF in the separation, or the denial of God, as "the devil". It's like putting a label on our authority problem. Since "the ego is part of your belief about yourself", and its a belief in something opposite to God and Christ, the BELIEF can be said to be "evil". It's a belief IN evil, or an attempt to be "anti-christ".
"An idol is a false impression, or a false belief; some form of anti-Christ which constitutes a gap BETWEEN the Christ and what you see."
"All forms of anti-Christ oppose the Christ. And fall before His Face like a dark veil which SEEMS to shut you off from Him, alone in darkness."
"This is the anti-Christ; the strange idea there is a power PAST omnipotence, a place BEYOND the infinite, a time transcending the eternal. Here the world of idols has been set by the idea this power and place and time are given form, and shape the world where the impossible has happened. Here the deathless come to die; the all-encompassing to suffer loss; the timeless to be made the slaves of time. Here does the changeless change; the peace of God, forever given to all living things, give way to chaos. And the Son of God, as perfect, sinless, and as loving as his Father, come to hate a little while; to suffer pain, and finally to die."
"For anti-Christ becomes more powerful than Christ to those who dream the world is real."
"And you ask help of Christ or anti-Christ, and which you choose WILL join with you, and tell you what to do." Someone whose mind believes in separation from God, or who denies God, or who wants to overthrow the Kingdom, or who tries to attack the unattackable immortality of God, is in effect trying to be evil. They are becoming "a devil", or have a devilish attitude. This attitude is destructive instead of creative, and it also holds within it all the perspectives and behaviors that we might describe as "evil" in the world.
"The mind can make the belief in Separation VERY real and VERY fearful. And this belief IS the devil. It is powerful, active, destructive, and clearly in opposition to God, because it literally denies His Fatherhood. Never underestimate the power of this denial. Look at your lives and see what the devil has made. But KNOW that this making will surely dissolve in the light of truth, because its foundation IS a lie."
So Jesus is saying that our belief in separation from God, in sin, in death, in illusions, in sickness, in bodies etc, which is really our mental illness ie insanity, is "the devil". Another way of saying that is our egotism is the devil. The ego isn't really a real entity either, any more than the devil is. If you are being egotistical, ie "the ego is the idea of selfishness", which includes beliefs in specialness and so on, then you are effectively TRYING TO be evil. This means you're trying to change yourself from christ into the anti-christ.
"Accept atonement with an open mind which cherishes no lingering belief that you have made a devil of God's Son." "Behold him now whom you had seen as merely flesh and bone, and recognize that Christ has come to you. Today's idea is your safe escape from anger and from fear. Be sure you use it instantly, should you be tempted to attack a brother and perceive in him the symbol of your fear. And you will see him suddenly transformed from enemy to Savior; from the devil into Christ."
In effect, if we deny God and reality, we attempt to turn ourselves into devils. We are trying to oppose the Kingdom, to oppose life, to oppose the truth. The word we'd properly use for that is "evil". But evil isn't REAL, in the big picture. It's a mistaken sense of what is real. It's really a state of insanity in which that which is true is swapped with that which is false. The attributes of nothingness are assigned to God, while life's attributes are assigned to death. Hell is thought to be heaven, and heaven is hell.
This also gives rise to what you might call satanism ie a kind of rebellious attitude against God, which wants nothing to do with God. A system of thought which is seemingly unholy and dark and destructive and vengeful etc. A way of believing that is distorted and sick, giving rise to inhumane and insane ways of relating to others. Ways which you might call evil, or unnatural.
But such minds which seem to be "hell bent" are simply mistaken minds that are mentally ill. They are out of touch with reality. And these are the minds of christs, sons of God, who temporarily believe they are not themselves. You can see here Jesus talking about the devil ... ie our belief in hell and separation and death, in terms somewhat similar to those laid out in christianity.
"The devil is a frightening concept ONLY because he is thought of as extremely powerful and extremely active. He is perceived as a force in combat with God, battling Him for possession of Souls. He deceives by lies, and builds kingdoms of his own, in which everything is in direct opposition to God. Yet, he ATTRACTS men rather than repels them, and they are perceived as willing to "sell" him their Souls in return for gifts they KNOW are of no real worth at all."
All of these aspects are in fact metaphysically sound and in keeping with ACIM's principles. Devilishness is an attempt to oppose God, to use the power of the mind to actively being in combat with God. This produces "the ego" mindset or belief system in which everything unreal and untrue attempts to TEMPT you to believe it is real and true. And thus temptation is part of the evil, just as the belief in sin is.
This "evil" tries to keep you in hell by tempting you to believe it is heaven, ie reality, and that you want it. And therefore it tries to offer you to gain the whole world and thus lose track of your soul. In being unaware of or not remembering who you really are, in insanity, you then "lose your soul". Of course, souls cannot really be lost.
This egotism is a lie, just as the very notion of evil or ego or devil is al ie. They are NOT real, or even possible. But you can BELIEVE things which are false and this believing IS "the devil at work". It is even said for example that if a person is "a sinner", ie is indulging in some kind of unholy belief or action, then this gives "the devil" permission to enter that person and manipulate them.
This is a rather ... storytelling take.... on a simple principle. ie if you BELIEVE sin is real, then you are "being a sinner", and this makes your mind seem unholy, which means you believe in and WANT destructive beliefs. And that means you see yourself as sinful, therefore deserving of punishment and suffering. And indeed this is an invitation to insanity, which could be easily blamed for a whole host of bizarre behaviors which, in less civilized times, would have been likely described as the activities of "demons" or "the devil."
Basically then the devil is your "ego beliefs". It's you being devilish, in your attempts to reject God. It's your way of rebelling by denying reality and moving into insanity. It is indeed a twisted, backwards, self destructive, self harming, suffering-inducing, attacking, seemingly unholy, tormented, dark, hellish nightmare of an experience. Because that's what minds experience when they are out of touch with God.
"Man is capable of this kind of creation, too, being in the image and likeness of his own Creator. Anything else is only his own nightmare, and does not exist. Only the Creations of Light are real."
"Your Father created you Wholly without sin, wholly without pain, and wholly without suffering of any kind. If you deny Him, you bring sin, pain, and suffering into your OWN mind, because of the power He gave it. Your mind is capable of creating worlds, but it can also DENY what it creates, because it is free."
So when you deny God, you are rejecting his fatherhood, and therefore rebelling against heaven, and are trying to convince yourself that an opposite to holiness is possible. That evil can exist, or that you can attack or kill, or that suffering and death can happen. These are beliefs in sin being real. That punishment is inevitable.
People who believe in such seemingly evil things, are in effect "sinners". But not in the sense that they are REALLY sinners, because they are really just mistaken. Their mental illness is just confusion about who their father is and who they really are. Anyone in touch with the love of christ in them couldn't possibly believe any of this. Jesus does refer to sinners a little.
"The black-draped "sinners," the ego's mournful chorus, plodding so heavily AWAY from life, dragging their chains and marching in the slow procession that honors their grim master, lord of death."
"The magic of the world can SEEM to hide the pain of sin from sinners, and deceive with glitter and with guile. Yet each one knows the cost of sin is death. And so it IS. For sin is a REQUEST for death, a wish to make this world's foundation sure as love, dependable as Heaven, and as strong as God Himself."
"Love is the basis for a world perceived as wholly mad to sinners, who believe theirs is the way to sanity."
"To the world, justice and VENGEANCE are the same, for sinners see justice ONLY as their punishment, perhaps sustained by someone ELSE, but NOT escaped. The laws of sin DEMAND a victim."
"Love is NOT understandable to sinners. BECAUSE they think that justice is SPLIT OFF from love, and stands for something else. And thus is love perceived as weak and vengeance strong."
Being "a sinner" is just a temporary state of being mistaken. And mistakes can be corrected without punishment. This is why sin does not have to be punished, even though the ego/devil would say otherwise.
"We lay aside the arrogance which says that we are sinners, guilty and afraid, ashamed of what we are. And lift our hearts in true humility instead to Him Who has created us immaculate, like to Himself in power and in love."
"Forgiveness is the only thing that stands for truth in the illusions of the world. It sees their nothingness, and looks right through the thousand forms in which they may appear. It looks on lies but it is not deceived. It does not heed the self-accusing shrieks of sinners mad with guilt. It looks on them with quiet eyes, and merely says to them, "My brother, what you think is not the truth."
"No-one is "punished" for sins, and the Sons of God are not sinners."
We are not really sinners, but we BELIEVE we are. And that is our attempt to turn ourselves from Christ into the anti-christ or devil. It is an attempt to make an ego of ourselves, to try to replace the soul. And in this belief system we make a world of hell and attack it and destroy it in attempting to enact the wages of sin. Sins that we think we are guilty of that deserve nothing short of death. This is all a mistaken state of mind and nothing more. A simple
insanity that needs healing. And it also means that in the big picture, THERE IS NO EVIL. There is no ego, and there is no devil. There is no sin and there is no death.
"What has no effect does not exist, and to the Holy Spirit, the effects of error are TOTALLY non-existent. By steadily and consistently canceling out ALL its effects, EVERYWHERE AND IN ALL RESPECTS, He teaches that the ego does not exist, and PROVES IT."
What we call evil is nothing but the seeming LACK of love, or the seeming absence of light. It's just a distortion of mind. It isn't really dark any more than darkness can make light go away. It's just a lack of light. It's just confusion. Those who seem evil are not really evil, but they may seem that way. They are just mistaken. What they believe is not true. And they do believe they are sinners, which is a call for love and forgiveness.
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