Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk
I recognize that the struggle against this enemy is difficult; but it’s necessary. Lots of people wage wars and defeat other people, but are yet prisoners and slaves to their passions. There’s no more glorious victory than that over ourselves. And there’s no victory without a struggle.
My brother, let’s engage in this struggle and, with the help of Christ, gain victory, earning from him the crown of virtue so that we may triumph eternally in his kingdom.
Let’s now set out a few thoughts that give help and support in the struggle.
- Listen to the word of God and try to understand it. That’s where sin and virtue are revealed to us, so that we may avoid the former and pursue the latter. ‘All Scripture is God-inspired and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work’ (2 Tim. 3, 16-17). The word of God is the ‘sword of the Spirit’ (Eph. 6, 17), by which the enemy of the soul is slain.
- God is everywhere. Wherever we are, he’s beside us. Anything we do is done before him.
- So how can we sin and trample on his holy will before his very eyes?
- You quail and are afraid to act with impropriety before the king and the lowliest representative of earthly power. How much more should you feel the same before God. Don’t forget that every sin is impiety and transgression against him.
- Remember your end, which is death, Christ’s judgment, Hades, and the kingdom of heaven. That will keep you away from sin. Sirach says: ‘In all your words, remember your last days and …you will not sin’ (Wis. of Sir. 7, 36).
- Stay away from situations that you know will lead you off into sin, such as, for instance, banquets, revels, and inappropriate conversations. ‘Bad company ruins good morals’ (1 Cor. 15, 33).
- Bear in mind and in your memory that it’s possible for someone to die at the moment of sin and then that person will be lost eternally. Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, pursued the Israelites, wishing to return them to slavery. And while engaged in the unlawful task, he died (Ex. 14, 27-28). Absalom, the son of David, sought to kill his holy father and died in the attempt (2 Sam. 18, 14).
- In other words, God’s righteous judgement strikes sinners, so that we may fear it and not sin.
- Consider that Christ was tortured and died for your sins. ‘But he was wounded on account of our sins and bruised because of our iniquities’ (Is. 53, 5). And will you, a Christian, do that for which Christ drank of the bitter cup of the Passion and will you crucify the Son of God again? (Heb. 6, 6).
- Let’s not look at what other people are doing, but what the words of God enjoins us to do. In that way, we’ll not be affected by the temptations of the world. ‘Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble’ (Ps. 118, 165). Love God’s law and the temptations of society won’t harm you.
- Our efforts and struggles against sin aren’t effective without God’s assistance. So what’s required is a combination of struggle and prayer, so that the Lord can help us in this serious matter. God helps the assiduous, strengthens the fighters and crowns the victors.
My brother. You see the enemies of our soul who wish to destroy us not temporarily but eternally. And you also see God’s help in our battle against them. So let’s take a stand- ‘Let us stand aright’- and let’s arm ourselves with the power of Jesus Christ, the Almighty. Let’s never allow them to overcome us. In this way, we’ll receive the crown of victory from the Lord.
Lord Jesus, victor over death and Hades, help us. Without you we can do nothing; with you, everything.
The end and glory to God.