Temptation itself is nothing else than a wrestling or combat; for truth is assaulted by evil spirits and is defended by the angels who are with the man. The perception of this combat by the man is the temptation.
But no temptation can take place unless the man is in the good of truth, that is, in the love or affection of it.
For he who does not love his truth, or is not affected by it, cares nothing for it; but he who loves it is in anxiety lest it should suffer injury.
Nothing else produces the understanding life of man except that which he believes to be true, nor his will life except that which he has impressed upon himself as being good; and therefore when that is assaulted which he believes to be true, the life of his understanding is assaulted; and when that which he has impressed upon himself as being good is assaulted, the life of his will is assaulted; so that when a man is being tempted, his life is at stake.
That the first of combat is as to truth, or concerning truth, is because this is what he principally loves, and that which is of anyone’s love is that which is assaulted by evil spirits; but after the man loves good more than truth, which takes place when the order is being inverted, he is tempted as to good.
But what temptation is few know, because at this day few undergo any temptation, for no others can be tempted than those who are in the good of faith, that is, in charity toward the neighbor. If they who are not in this charity were to be tempted, they would succumb at once; and they who succumb come into the confirmation of evil and the persuasion of falsity; for the evil spirits with whom they are thus associated then conquer within them. This is the reason why at this day few are admitted into any spiritual temptation, but only into some natural anxieties, in order that they may thereby be withdrawn from the loves of self and of the world, into which they would otherwise rush without restraint.