My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
HOLY AND GREAT LENT: OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST
TEMPTED BY SATAN
"Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be
tempted by the devil…" (St. Matthew 4:1).
We believe that Satan is our archenemy and adversary who desires our total destruction. "Evil," in our ordinary usage of the word, is the name of two kinds of manifestations. We often understand by this word, anything in general that evokes misfortune and causes suffering. In a more precise and direct sense, evil is a name for negative manifestations of the moral order, which proceeds from the evil direction of the will and a violation of God’s law.
Evil is a deviation of living beings from the original state in which the Creator placed them. It is a condition opposed to God’s original creation. Therefore, it is NOT God Who is the cause of moral evil; rather, IT PROCEEDS FROM CREATURES THEMSELVES, FOR THEY HAVE DEVIATED FROM THE AGREEMENT OF THEIR WILL WITH THE WILL OF GOD. The ESSENCE OF EVIL consists IN THE VIOLATION OF GOD’S WILL, THE COMMANDMENT OF GOD, AND THE MORAL LAW WHICH IS WRITTEN IN THE HUMAN CONSCIENCE. This VIOLATION IS CALLED SIN.
"But from where did moral evil arise? God created THE WORLD PURE, PERFECT, and FREE FROM EVIL. EVIL entered the world as a consequence OF THE FALL, which occurred, according to the word of God, originally in the world of fleshless spirits, and then in the human race, and was reflected in the whole of living nature."
According to the testimony of the word of God, the origin of sin comes from the devil: "He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning" (1 John 3:8). The word "devil" MEANS "SLANDERER." Bringing together the evidence of Holy Scripture, we see that the devil is one of the rational spirits or angels WHO DEVIATED INTO THE PATH OF EVIL. Possessing, like all rational creatures, the freedom which was given him for becoming perfect in the good, he "abide not in the truth" and FELL FROM GOD. The Savior Jesus Christ said of him: "He was A MURDERER FROM THE BEGINNING and abode not in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh A LIE, HE SPEAKETH OF HIS OWN: FOR HE IS A LIAR AND THE FATHER OF IT" (St. John 8:44). He DREW THE OTHER ANGELS AFTER HIMSELF INTO THE FALL. In the epistles of the holy Apostle Jude and the Apostle Peter, we read of the angels "which kept not their first estate, BUT LEFT THEIR OWN HABITATION" (St. Jude, v. 6; compare with II Peter 2:4).
What was the cause of the fall in the Angelic world? From this same Divine Revelation, we can conclude THAT THE REASON WAS PRIDE: "ΤΗΕ ΒΕGINNING OF SIN IS PRIDE;" says the son of Sirach (Sir. 10:13). The holy Apostle Paul, WARNING the holy Apostle Timothy against making bishops of those who are newly converted, adds: "Lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil" (1 Timothy 3:6).
An incomparably more complete representation of the activity of Satan and his angels (demons) is contained in the New Testament Revelation. From it, we know that Satan and the evil spirits (demons) ARE CONSTANTLY ATTRACTING PEOPLE TO EVIL. Satan DARED TO TEMPT THE LORD JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF IN THE DESERT. The evil spirits (demons) rush into the souls and even into the bodies of men; of this, there is the testimony of many events in the Gospel and the teachings of the Savior. Concerning the habitation of evil spirits in men, we know from the numerous healings by the Savior of the DEMON-POSSESSED. EVIL SPIRITS SPY, AS IT WERE, ON THE CARELESSNESS OF MAN SO AS TO ATTRACT HIM TO EVIL.
Why was man’s fall into sin possible? The Creator imparted to man THREE GREAT GIFTS AT HIS CREATION: FREEDOM, REASON, AND LOVE. These gifts are INDISPENSABLE FOR THE SPIRITUAL GROWTH AND BLESSEDNESS OF MAN. However, where there is freedom THERE IS THE POSSIBILITY OF WAVERING IN ONE’S CHOICE; THUS, TEMPTATION IS POSSIBLE. The temptation for "REASON" IS TO GROW PROUD IN MIND instead of acknowledging the wisdom and goodness of God, TO SEEK THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL OUTSIDE OF GOD, and TO DESIRE ONESELF TO BE A "god." The temptation for the FEELING OF LOVE IS: IN PLACE OF LOVE FOR GOD AND ONE’S NEIGHBOR, TO LOVE ONESELF AND EVERYTHING THAT SATISFIES THE LOWER DESIRES AND GIVES TEMPORARY ENJOYMENT ("INSTANT GRATIFICATION"). The possibility of temptation and fall STOOD BEFORE MANKIND, AND THE FIRST MAN DID NOT STAND FIRM AGAINST IT.
Saint John of Kronsdt’s reflection on this subject. He writes" "Why did God allow the fall of man, his beloved creation and the crown of all the earthly creatures? To this question, the reply is thus: If man is not to be allowed to fall, then he cannot be created in the image and likeness of God, he cannot be granted FREE WILL, which IS AN INSEPARABLE FEATURE OF THE IMAGE OF GOD; but he would have to be subject to the law of necessity, like the soulless creation–the sky, the sun, stars, the circle of the earth, and all the elements–or like the irrational animals. But then there would have been no king over the creatures of the earth, no rational hymn-singer of God’s Goodness, Wisdom, Creative Amightiness, and Providence. Then man would have had no way to show his faithfulness and devotion to the Creator, his self-sacrificing love. Then there would have been no expoits in battle, no merits, and no incorruptible crowns for victory; there would have been no eternal blessedness, which is the reward for faithfulness and devotion to God, and no eternal repose after the labors and struggles of our earthly pilgrimage." (Source: Orthodox Dogmatic Theology by Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky)
We must imitate Our Lord’s attitude and actions to drive the evil one away and to reject his machinations, deceptions, temptations, and snares. The battle against evil is constant and we must never let our guard down, but remain always vigilant and alert. If we are spiritually aware and have discernment, we can avoid becoming evil’s victim. All must believe that the devil and his demons are never discouraged and will continue to pursue us and use our weaknesses against us. He uses the passions to entice us and to encourage us to fall into sin. The devil is "the ruler of this world" (Saint John 12:31; 16:11), "the god of this age" (2 Corinthians 4:4), because the whole world is in his power (1 John 5:19).
The evil one will continue to test our faith, our convictions, our loyalty to God and commitment to righteousness. The temptations increase and not decrease as our faith in Christ becomes stronger. The more we struggle to live our Christian faith, the greater the asaults from the Devil. He is an obstractionist and does everything in his evil power to distract us, to undermine our efforts, to plant seeds of doubt, and to slander God to us. Evil plants logismous (wicked thoughts) in our mids to convince us that God has no love for us nor any concern of the problems, illnesses, challenges and obstacles that we face in our lives. All of this is done to drive a wedge between us and our Creator. Therefore, "Be sober and BE VIGILANT, BECAUSE YOUR ADVERSARY THE DEVIL WALKS ABOUT LIKE A ROARING LION, SEEKING WHOM HE MAY DEVOUR. RESIST HIM, STEADFAST IN THE FAITH, KNOWING THAT THE SAME SUFFERINGS ARE EXPERIENCED BY THE BROTHERHOOD IN THE WORLD" (1 Peter 5:8-9).
Our evil enemy offers attractive visions to our eyes and music to our ears and our other senses, setting forth whatever might tempt us to sin. He arouses our tongues to gossip and to speak evil about others (slander), and to urge our hands to injure them. When he is unable to tempt us, he invents and fabricates a threat of persecution so that fear may cause us to betray the faith and our beloved Lord. Remember that the evil one and his demons do need to sleep, eat, or rest. We are in a great disadvantage, because they are invisible spirits…and although they can see us, we cannot see them.
+ In the Name of the Father and of the Son and
of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Our Father, Who are in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name;
Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is
in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And
forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who
trespess against us. And LEAD US NOT INTO
TEMPTATION; BUT DELIVER US FROM THE EVIL ONE.
For Thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory,
of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now
and forever and from all ages to all ages. Amen.
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
+ + +
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George