Is sin leading you to despair? Restore your hope with God.

December 30, 2018

One of the most powerful tricks the devil uses against us is when he attempts to make us fall into despair. To make us believe that there is no hope for our salvation—that we are so weak that we will not be able to escape perdition. When we fall into this trap, we feel stuck in this fake quick sand and we are unable to move forward. It is such a dangerous snare because people who choose to listen to him give up on their spiritual struggle, give up on their repentance and deeply indulge in sin. This thought usually comes to us after committing a huge sin and just when we are in a state of utter disbelief about what just happened, the devil jumps in with ideas that God will never forgive us…it is too big of a sin for God to overlook. That is what he wants us to believe. This thought can also come after gradually falling into sin as we saw in the first video of this series on spiritual warfare. When sin is now rooted in us, he makes us believe that we will never be able to return to our former selves. In addition, in either of these cases, he tends to exaggerate the easiness of the sin, meaning how widely available it is and therefore makes us think that we will never be able to overcome it. Some other times, he exaggerates our own weakness and corruption as if God is not present to support us in our struggles. To this, St. John Chrysostom would respond: “For if God had made us in order to punish us, you might well have despaired, and questioned the possibility of your own salvation; but if He created us for no reason than His own good will, and with a view to our enjoying everlasting blessings, and if He does and contrives everything for this end, from the first day until the present time, what is there which can ever cause you to doubt?” In other words, since the One Trinitarian God created us with the purpose of enjoying Him and He does want our salvation, there is no reason to doubt that God will accept our repentance. As He said in Luke 12: “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” But for this to happen, it requires our will. It requires us to be willing to work with God, to return, to repent. Again, St. John Chrysostom says: “Therefore I entreat you … recover your senses and rouse yourself up, and shake off this Satanic fit, doing it gently and gradually if it be not possible to effect it all at once. For to me indeed the easier course seems to be to wrench yourself once for all out of all the cords which hold you down, and transfer yourself to the school of repentance. But if this seems to you a difficult thing, that you should be willing to enter on the path which leads to better things, simply enter upon it, and lay hold on eternal life.” He says, there are 2 ways to go about our repentance from sin or about defeating despair. His preferred method is to rise up at once. Get up, get focused, get it done. But if it seems too difficult for us, then let us take it one step at a time, but let us enter the path of repentance, let us start now and we will be restored with time. We often forget that the person that fell hard has a tremendous power within him just waiting to be unleashed. When Christ was at the house of Simon the Pharisee, a sinner woman stepped in and began to wash Christ’s feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. When Simon was displeased and wondering within himself “how can this Man be a prophet and not know what manner of woman this is who is touching Him.” Christ responded: “‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. … Then He said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’” In other words, Christ is telling Simon, everything you lacked in doing, she has done for me. You can learn a few things from her. St. John Chrysostom again grants us so much hope, look what he says: “For this reason also the devil, knowing that they who have committed great evils, when they have begun to repent, do this with much zeal, inasmuch as they are conscious of their offenses, [the devil] fears and trembles lest they should make a beginning of the work [of repentance]; for after they have made it they are no longer capable of being checked, and, kindling like fire under the influence of repentance, they render their souls purer than pure gold, being impelled by their conscience, and the memory of their former sins, as by some strong gale, towards the haven of virtue. And this is the point in which they have an advantage over those who have never fallen, that they exercise more vehement energy; if only, as I said, they can lay hold of the beginning.” How hopeful! And how true! There are numerous examples of sinners that were restored above their original state: St. Moses the Strong, St. Mary the Copt, the Samaritan woman who became St. Photini, Zacchaeus the tax collector who became the first bishop of Caesarea as mentioned in the Apostolic Constitution, Levi the tax collector who became St. Matthew, one of the twelve apostles. There is no limit to our repentance! Let us therefore say with St. Paul: “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…” Remember, know your faith, live your faith and teach your faith and glory be to God forever, amen.

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