St. Ignatius Brianchaninov. "On Prelest".
On Prelest (Part I)
Thy mind was deluded: it tasted the fruit forbidden by God. The fruit seemed to be beautiful with a curious, careless glance at it; the fruit seemed to be beautiful for the ignorance, inexperience, innocence; the malicious and sly counsel persuaded the eating of it; the eating of the fruit struck the one who ate with the death. The bitterness of the poisonous eatable still foaming at thy mouth; thy inside is tormented of acting of poison in it. Confusion, bewilderment, clouding, disbelief comprehend thy soul. Exhausted, frustrated by sin, you look back, being before directed to the kingdom of God ... (Luke VI, 62. Lam. 1.)
Disciple. Give an accurate and detailed concept of spiritual deception [prelest, delusion, illusion, spiritual delusion, spiritual deception – all these English words in the article mean the same]. What exactly is this condition?
Elder: Spiritual deception is the wounding of human nature by falsehood. Spiritual deception is the state of all men without exception, and it has been made possible by the fall of our original parents. All of us are subject to spiritual deception. Awareness of this fact is the greatest protection against it. Likewise, the greatest spiritual deception of all is to consider oneself free from it. We are all deceived, all deluded; we all find ourselves in a condition of falsehood; we all need to be liberated by the Truth. The Truth is our Lord Jesus Christ (Jn. 8:32-14:6). Let us assimilate that Truth by faith in it; let us cry out in prayer to this Truth, and it will draw us out of the abyss of demonic deception and self-delusion. Bitter is our state! It is that prison from which we beseech that our souls be led out, that we may confess the name of the Lord (Ps. 141:8). It is that gloomy land into which our life has been cast by the enemy that hates and pursues us. It is that carnal-mindedness (Rom. 8:6) and knowledge falsely so called (I Tim. 6:20) wherewith the entire world is infected, refusing to acknowledge its illness, insisting, rather, that it is in the bloom of health. It is that “flesh and blood” which “cannot inherit the Kingdom of God” (I Cor. 15:50). It is that eternal death which is healed and destroyed by the Lord Jesus, Who is “the Resurrection and the Life” (Jn. 11:25). Such is our state. And the perception thereof is a new reason to weep. With tears let us cry out to the Lord Jesus to bring us out of prison, to draw us forth from the depths of the earth, and to wrest us from the jaws of death! “For this cause did our Lord Jesus Christ descend to us,” says the venerable Symeon the New Theologian, “because he wanted to rescue us from captivity and from most wicked spiritual deception.”