Exerting onself spiritually: what does it mean?
This means working hard within oneself to make our thoughts, words and deeds pure. It means adjusting our actions to the Will of God and adhering to His Laws through our own conscious efforts. This presupposes that we know these Laws and what they demand of us. It is impossible to adhere to something that we do not know.
We should therefore be on the lookout for a teaching that shows us and explains all the Laws of God to us without resorting to blind faith. It must be a teaching that truly answers all the questions of human existence without leaving any gaps. Only in this way are we able to know what is demanded of us and are then able to consciously follow what is required.
It is therefore all a question of doing everything ourselves. We have to make the first move and show that we are truly earnest as far as our Salvation is concerned. If we do not make the first move in this regard then it is impossible to find the right way. Even if we find the right way we still have to continue to make the effort to adjust to what has been shown to us. We have to exert ourselves to make our thoughts, words and deeds pure. It is initially quite difficult but once we make a start and overcome the inertia then it becomes easier.
Achieving Salvation and returning to Paradise actually requires us to make a journey from here, the material part of Creation and actually walk upwards towards the Luminous Heights. The way thereto is through our good volition, our pure thoughts, words and deeds. Dark thoughts and evil deeds keep us bound in the material sphere whereas good thoughts and deeds show us the way and give us the strength to strive upwards to the Luminous Realms.
This is actually no different from an earthly journey. If we want to go from one point to the other we actually have to make all the effort to get to where we are going, otherwise we will never get there and if we have the right map (good volition and the right knowledge) then we will get there without too much confusion and delay. If, however, we make use of the wrong map (bad volition and the wrong knowledge) then we will lose our way and never get to our destination.
The Darkness (Lucifer) gave us the bad map and as such we had been stuck in the material world for thousands of years unable to return to our origin. We have become lost because we found no way to the use of the good volition. Now we have the opportunity to recover our good volition and use it as a good map to find the way again and trace our way back to the Luminous Heights which should have been the case had Lucifer not confused so many of us with his false values.
Once we find the right teaching then what is left is exerting ourselves to follow this teaching, retrieving what has been lost and finding our way back home. Our first duty therefore is to find the right conviction which comes from the experiences gained from the true Teaching. We should never assume that we have the true faith or teaching if that teaching has not answered all the questions that we have within ourselves. If there are still unanswered questions then the Laws of God cannot be assumed to have been properly explained by such a teaching. And since we can only ascend through adhering to the Laws of God any teaching that does not properly explain the Laws of God cannot be said to be capable of showing the way to the Luminous Heights.