187 We go through spiritual struggles only if we are being reborn. Spiritual struggle is psychological distress brought on by harmful spirits when we do good things and have true ideas. We experience the anguish of inner struggle when these harmful sp irits stir up the bad traits in us. Since we do not realize this is the source of these struggles, we have no idea where they come from.
188 We all have harmful spirits and good spirits with us. The harmful spirits are associated with our bad traits, and the good spirits are associated with our good traits. When the harmful spirits approach us, they bring out our bad traits, while the good spirits bring out our good traits. Then there is a conflict and a fight, which brings on anguish inside us, and this anguish is inner struggle.
So you can see that inner struggles are brought on by hell and are not from heaven. This is part of Christian belief, which says that God does not torment anyone.
189 People who do not do good things or have true ideas can also have inner anguish, but it is materialistic, not spiritual. You can tell the difference because materialistic anguish is about material things, while spiritual anguish is about heavenly things.
190 Our inner struggles are fought over whether our good traits will have control over our bad ones, or the other way around. The bad traits that want to get control of us are in our outer, material self, while the good ones are in our inner spiritual self. If our bad traits win, our material self will be in control of us. If the good ones win, our spiritual self will be in control.
191 We fight by using the true things in the faith that we get from the Bible. We should use these to fight against our bad traits and false ideas. If we fight from anything but these we will not win, since the Lord is not involved in anything else.
Since we have to fight through the true things in faith, we are not allowed to experience these fights until we have a concept of what is true and good, and have gained some spiritual life from it. So we do not have these struggles until we reach mat urity.
192 If we give in, we are worse off after the inner struggle than we were before, since our bad traits and false ideas have gotten power over our good traits and true ideas.
193 Since there is no kindness these days now that the old religion is coming to its end, faith is very uncommon. Because of this, hardly anyone is allowed to experience spiritual struggles. So we hardly even know what they are and what they are good for.
194 Inner struggles help our good traits and true ideas to get control over our bad traits and false ideas. They strengthen the truth in us and unite it with our good parts. At the same time, they get rid of our faults and the wrong ideas that come fr om them. They help open up our inner spiritual self, and put our material self under its control. They also help us to overcome our selfishness and materialism, and to control the cravings that come from them.
When we have done these things, we gain enlightenment and intuition about what is good and true and about what is false and harmful. So we become understanding and wise, and this grows in us every day.
195 The Lord is the only one who is doing the fighting for us in our inner struggles. If we do not believe that it is only the Lord who fights and wins for us, we are only experiencing superficial struggles, and they will not help us to accomplish all the things I mentioned.