"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." - Ephesians 6:12
Brothers and sisters, I beg your forgiveness in that I should have written this letter a long time ago. There is “nothing new under the sun”[i] as the teacher of wisdom tells us. Nevertheless, I have felt an urgency for some time, and it seems that now is the precise time to tell you. I do not seek to rouse in you a sense of fear or anxiety, but rather to contemplate these words and with prayer and fasting decide your role, not only in the future but the now.
The last couple of years have revealed to us that the world and those who are of it have are lovers of self, “covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof.”[ii] The powers of this world seek to destroy mankind and grind you and I to dust. They do not care about your hopes and dreams, nor your accomplishments and honors. These powers have been and will continue to be tormentors of mankind driving you to psychosis, enthusiastically observing you staggering on the verge of despondency and devastation.
You, like many, speak of liberty and sovereignty all while climbing the stairs to the altar of the despots, imploring them for your freedom. They can no more give you freedom than a stone can produce blood. You boast online and in closed circles about how you would destroy anything that stands in between you and your loved ones, yet you do not as much take up the most basic of weapons. Instead, you cower in collusion with these powers, dulling your guilt with pleasure and coddling your passions. This is not the way of one who seeks freedom. No self-respecting man or woman pleads with their captor for freedom, they take it and by force! So, I entreat you brothers and sisters in Christ, enough is enough, it is time to revolt!
There is an old phrase written by the Latin author Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus which says, “Therefore let him who desires peace prepare for war”[iii]. Therefore, fortify yourselves and prepare for war. St. Justin Popovich says, “A man in this world must solve a problem: to be with Christ or to be against Him. And every man decides this, whether he wants to or not. He will either be a lover of Christ or a fighter of Christ. There is no third option.”[iv] St. Sabastion Dabovich as if rousing troops with a war cry exalts us, “Rouse yourselves! The world which you worship only flatters you. The heaviness of your flesh should not keep you back from our Saviour—the God of spirits and of all flesh. If you continue to drowse, you will imperceptibly fall under the influence of the evil spirits, who are anxious for the company even of swine. Be careful that you become not possessed by a devil.”[v] Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ himself tells us, “…the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force”.[vi]
Christian! I am not advocating you take up arms against that which is perishing, I am beseeching you to attentively and with humility approach your own soul. Lay yourself bare upon the altar of confession before the Lord. Cry out to him and with tears cleanse yourself. You, with intention, approached the waters of fire and submitted yourself to the Lord Christ seeking to serve Him with your whole being. Do not forget the pledge which you of your own free will spake (thrice) to God in front of the priest, your sponsors, and all the heavenly hosts, “Do you renounce Satan, and all his works, and all his angels, and all his service and all his pride?”[vii], responding, “I do renounce him!”. You spit upon the devil and united yourself to Christ. Turning from your former self, you approached the fiery font which burns away the former man and when you had been raised from the dead began to walk in the newness of Life (the Lord).
St. Barsanuphius with wisdom exhorts us strugglers, “In the struggle of prayer, it is absolutely necessary to force oneself and compel oneself to pray.”[viii] St. Joseph the Hesychast says, “The only hope of salvation from the delusions and the heresies, the innovations and the traps of wicked people and of the devil is prayer, repentance, and humility.”[ix] And O Christian, how much delusion, heresy, innovation, and traps are laid out for us? Many of these come not from those outside of the Church, but from within. Well-intentioned men, who with their rational reasoning decided they understood the things of God better than our Holy Fathers and Mothers who have come before us; The conciliarity of the Saints and Holy Tradition. Flee from the world, brothers, and sisters. Embrace humility, repentance, and prayer.
Freedom comes from Christ and from no one or nowhere else. Through humility one may enter into a spiritual manner of living, speaking, and doing such things which are well-pleasing unto God and with true repentance and prayer becomes a stranger to this world. The Apostle Paul entreats us “therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”[x] And again the Apostle John encourages us to “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”[xi]
Beloved of God, “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”[xii] Look around you. Do you not see that the hour is at hand? The world is utterly opposed to Christ. As it was when He became incarnate, walked among men, was betrayed, and crucified, so it is today. Just as He descended into hell, destroyed death by death, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven, so too He descends into the depth of our being, destroying that which we allow Him to. What does it profit a man to open the door of his house to receive guests, but restrains them in the entrance, neither allowing them to enter fully or dine with him? After a while, they both depart, the guests to their homes and the host to his inner room having rejected his guests and the blessing of hospitality.
Therefore, take up the weapons of spiritual warfare and stand firm in your resolve to draw closer to our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ. Have you fallen? Get up! Dust yourself off and run to your icon corner, fall upon your face before God, and confess your sins. He is quick to hear and forgive! Are you struggling? Run to prayer, prostrations, and plead with our most holy Theotokos and ever-virgin Mary who is our protectress and intercessor! Are you lethargic? With great force, rouse yourself and come to your senses! Enough is enough! It is time to revolt! Against our own will! Against our passions! Against the world by turning completely and utterly to Christ +
[i] Ecclesiastes 1:9 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ecclesiastes%201%3A9&version=KJV
[iii] Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Si_vis_pacem,_para_bellum
[vii] Orthodox Baptism Service Text – http://www.stlukeorthodox.com/html/orthodoxy/liturgicaltexts/baptismandchrismation.cfm
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