Logismoi or Assaultive Thoughts

Understanding assaultive thoughts and how to deal with them is key to living a victorious life in Christ. The Greek word Logismoi, (pronounced, log-is-mee) are thoughts and thought/images that come to us to lead us away from Christ. The are distracting and are a result of the fall of mankind. There are many church fathers who teach us how to identify them and how to deal with them. St. John Climacus in his Ladder of Divine Ascent speak of various stages of how they afflict us and how we should deal with them. Kyriacos Markides, a sociologist from the University of Maine explores this understanding in his conversation with Fr. Maximos who is a monk from Mount Athos which is outlined in his book, “The Mountain of Silence.” The book is a must read for anyone who struggles with their thoughts and wants to be free.

Stages of Logismoi

Here are some excerpts from the Mountain of Silence by Kyriacos Markides in his conversation with Fr. Maximos (now Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol) on the stages of Logismoi:

How do we handle them?

The answer is surprising. We ignore them. That is what the Church fathers tell us to do. They explain that they are like flies and we are to bat them away. From a neurological perspective this makes perfect sense. We don’t want to think about the thought or even dialogue with it as it will grow even more. That brain cells that we neglect will eventually die. This should give any of us hope who has struggled with unwanted thoughts. When the logismoi, like the unwanted salesmen comes to the door, we are to shut the door and not to even dialogue with him. To invited him into our house or our heart constitute sin–sin of the heart. The first two stages are not sin. This should make it easier to ignore the first two stages, assault and dialogue.

Of course, praying the Jesus Prayer is a great replacement for a repetitive assaultive thoughts. St. Mark the Ascetic said that he gave credit for his prayer life to satan. Every time he was tempted by the devil, he prayed; thus, he prayed a lot. St. John Chrysostom talks about how a thief will not disturb a house where there is a party going on inside. So it is with the heart of the person who says the Jesus prayer continually. Logismoi, we are told, will always be with us in this life. Even the holiest of people still have to contend with them.

Logismoi and Mental Disorders

Some of us seem more prone to problems with thoughts and thinking than others. People who have obssessional, anxious and depressive thinking could be struggling with logismoi. The stinkin’ thinkin’ and resentments that is associated with addiction and alcoholism are probably logismoi. Worry and many anxiety disorders could be seen as logismoi. How many people may be on medicine to sedate themselves against the attack of the enemy. I am not against the use of medicine for certain situations. I am also not saying that all these disorders are caused by logismoi. I just want to point out that we may have be deceived into thinking that satan and his assaultive thoughts have no part of our lives. We live in an age where the spiritual world is downplayed and the biological and psychological is elevated. The enemy also tries to get us to believe that the thoughts are our own. Rather, we should see them as coming from the outside of us if we have been baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit in the Orthodox Christian Church. Prior to this, the thoughts more likely than not are generated from the inside of us. Satan loses power in the Holy Sacrament of Baptism. “As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Galatians 3:27)

Important Considerations

We tend to go about our lives thinking whatever thoughts come to us without considering this is warfare we are engaged in and the thoughts are the ammunition. We are asleep. We are walking through the battlefield and gunfire is whizzing past our heads, and we want to stop and have a closer look at the bullet. Unfortunately, this is how we get hurt. We look at the bullets when we take into our heart a resentment, hurt or angry thought about another person. We could choose to not “take into account a wrong suffered.” We would be following Christ, who didn’t not open his mouth when wrong things were said about him. We also take a closer look at the bullet, when we are taking a closer look at someone’s beauty and are lusting. We get a closer look at the bullet when we judge ourselves as hopeless cases so we quit running the race or we judge ourselves as virtuous and we quit the race because we are “ahead.”

We should ignore these bullets and keep our own on Christ, the Author and Perfecter of our faith. Why can we ignore the bullets? We can ignore them because of the work of Jesus Christ’s work on the cross. He came to destroy the works of the enemy. The cross is our weapon of peace. What we need to think about and ponder is his word, his commandments, his truth and to call upon his holy name in prayer. Thank God we don’t have to entertain, analyze, dissect, or interact with evil thoughts to overcome them. We can ignore them and focus on him. We can take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ by His grace.

Being in a state of awareness is another important asset in our fight. Perhaps, this is what the Church father talked when they talked about nepsis, this vigilance and alert state. We need to be like our computer security software that is constantly blocking and granting access for programs want to access our computer’s files. It also guards what goes out from our computers, like putting a guard over our mouths.

“If you keep your inner man full of wicked thoughts, even if you were on Golgotha, even if you were on the Mount of Olives, even if you stood on the memorial rock of the Resurrection, you will be as afar away from receiving Christ into yourself as one who has not even begun to confess Him.”  St. Gregory of Nyssa


Originally found on orthodoxcounselor.com