The Struggle for Virtue

St. Tarasius the Archbishop of Constantinople

St. Tarasius the Archbishop of Constantinople

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

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THE STRUGGLE FOR VIRTUE
By Archbishop Averky (Tausheve)

Self-Asserting Pride and Christian Humility

"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this, you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming; and is now already in the world" (1 John 4:1-3).

If such a warning by the beloved disciple of Christ, the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian, was necessary in apostolic times, then it is all the more timely now. For it is unlikely that at any time in human history have so many false prophets captivated people with the specter of good as now, in our times. If we approach this spirit with the standard indicated by the holy Apostle, then it can be shown that they "Do not confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh," even if certain of them do not display open hostility to our Lord and Savior.

So what was the essence of the sin of Adam and Eve?

It was that they questioned the All-Good God the Creator and put more faith in the devil, the enemy of God, than in God, thereby breaking God's Commandment and wishing to become gods themselves knowing good and evil. (See Genesis 3:17)

Therefore, the essence of our primogenitor's sin was that they did not want to obey God, but rather desired to become gods themselves. The devil, in seducing them, communicated to them the cause of his own fall. The spirit of self-asserting human pride, and with it protest against the All-Good will of God, has ever since become rooted in people's souls and has become The cause of mankind's infection with sin and sinful corruption. We can find its footprints throughout the entire history of mankind.

It was precisely this spirit of self-asserting human pride that was the cause of the first war: The fratricide performed by Cain, who was envious of his brother Abel. This awful sin of fratricide led mankind to such a hopeless situation of complete depravity that the Lord had to as radical a means of suppressing the spread of sin as the universal flood. Yet sinful corruption made itself known again in Noah's descendants who survived the flood. His son Ham, whose name became a byword, became a striking example of disrespect to parents and of rejection of parental authority--the source of which was rooted, of course, in that same condescendingly, contemptuously, scornfully, and sarcastically towards other people, even if they are older and worthy of the respect due to their position.

It was this same human pride that induced people, for the sake of "making a name for themselves," to begin construction of the Tower of Babel, which prompted God to counteract against human pride by confusing the tongues, after which people dispersed over all the earth and formed various nations, among whom there has been constant warfare ever since. As such, pride has engendered division among people, making them alien and hostile towards one another.

Dispersed all over the world, people became divided into different tribes and nations; all the while, at the foundation of this division lay that very same self-asserting human pride in the form of so-called national pride. This has given birth to embittered enmity between different nations and the countless wars with which human history is filled, giving the impression, if one opens any modern textbook of history, that the entire history of the human race is essentially a history of war: one war succeeds another--and that is all there is to it. It makes perfect sense that mankind, having lost its unity and having been divided into many nations warring against one another, would have therewith lost faith in the one God, and knowledge of the oneness of the Divinity. Every nation came to have its own national gods that corresponded to its spirit and tastes. Every nation reflected its own national character in its religion, creating gods "in its own image." Such is the origin of paganism, that perverted religion created as the result of that same spirit of self-asserting human pride. This oblivion to the One True God and worship of false gods created by man's imagination "in his own image," this idolization of his passions and vices, became the occasion for a profound moral fall, into vices, became the occasion for a profound fall, into the abyss of which the ancient world descended ever more deeply before the coming of Christ.

The holy Apostle Paul speaks eloquently of this in his Epistle (Letter) to the Romans: "And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind to do these things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evilmindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful"  (Romans 1:28-31).

When evil had reached its highest strain on earth, when mankind through its limitless fall had reached a complete moral impasse, then the "great mystery of Godliness" was accomplished: God sent His Only-Begotten Son to earth to save the perishing human world. How did the Son of God, having come to earth, heal fallen mankind? Naturally, with the very medicine that was capable of healing man's primary disease. Mankind, as we have seen, was sick with pride--so the Lord healed it with humility. His preaching, but above all through His own example--the example of His earthly life, beginning with His very birth. (Source: The Struggle for Virtue By Archbishop Averky (Taushev)

(To be continued)

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"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!" -- Saint John Chrysostomos

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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George