Victory and delight

7/20 June OS 2017: Tuesday of the Third Week of Pentecost; St. Theodotus of Ancyra, Martyr; Holy Virgin Martyrs Kyriaki, Valeria, and Maria; Holy Hieromartyrs Marcellus and Marcellinus, Popes of Rome

In today’s reading from the Apostolos (Romans 7:14-82:), St. Paul poetically describes our spiritual struggle with great accuracy and vividness.

Brethren: we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

For what I hate, that do I.” All of us who love the Lord Jesus and do not want to offend Him experience this, and it can discourage us tremendously. We hate sin, do not want to sin. We see how we disappoint the Lord, those we love, and ourselves. For those of us who are baptized Orthodox Christians, this is really painful, because we think, “I have all this grace available to me through the Holy Mysteries of the Church, and I still have these sinful thoughts, say these bad things, do far less than I am supposed to for my salvation…” Indeed there is a war going on inside of us, a constant tug-of-war between the “inward man” who delights in the law of God and that “other law,” the diabolic “logic” of sin and death, that seems so “logical” when the devil has my ear. How rightly did the Holy Fathers say that our life is warfare to the last breath!

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” This is our victory in the warfare, to be in Christ Jesus and to walk after the Spirit (i.e., live according to the Spirit). Our victory is totally from God and not from ourselves. He requires from us that we

  1. Not rely on ourselves: Every day say, “O Lord, I am so proud and self-reliant I cannot even see how proud and self-reliant I am. Help me to see the depth of my pride, and grant me humility, so that I can rely totally on Thee.
  2. Delight in His law in our inward selves. We will receive the joy of our salvation when our minds are attentive, meditating on divine truths. It is not enough to learn the Law of God (i.e., His Truth, His holy words); we must also delight in the law of God. This comes about when we read and pray with great struggles for attention; it also comes about completely unexpectedly, as a gift of sudden insight welling up with a great joy in the heart. Let us entreat the Lord to give us the “joy of salvation,” especially in our dark and confusing times.
  3. Stay the course.

O Lord our delight and our victory in the battle, glory be to Thee!

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