• Arise, shine!

    For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people; But the Lord will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you.

  • The teaching of the Early Church

    The early church is the answer to the questions and the solution to the problems of the end time church.

We are called "to become into the likeness of His son", to be Christ-like
The Kingdom of God and the Challenges of the End Times
Knitting east and west
A call for reconciliation
The union between Christ and the Church, His Bride, is a great mystery

The Divine Calendar

Seasons
of Salvation

Receive the grace and blessings from the wells of Salvation.

View

Bible reading

1 year
Bible Reading plan

Our daily guideline for reading the Bible.

View

Latest Teachings

The Spiritual Life 4: How to overcome the devil?

Foundations of the Spiritual Life (4)

How to overcome the devil?

Readings

  • James 4: 7, 8

‘Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.’

  • Revelation 12: 10, 11

‘Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.  And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.’

Overcoming the devil requires three essential things:

  • The power of redemption
  • The word of God
  • The spiritual weapons

Other things mentioned in the bible regarding overcoming the devil can be included under these 3 main headings.

The bible entreats us to resist the devil and tells us that when we resist him, he will flee from us.

How then can we resist the devil?

It is through the above mentioned three main things.

As a basic principle, when the bible tells us a truth, this means that it is practically applicable. Therefore, if the bible tells us to resist the devil, this means it is within the ability of every person to do so and it also means that the devil will truly flee from us.

God regulates and organises the relationships in His Kingdom. God is the Highest King of the visible kingdoms of the earth and of the unseen kingdoms, among which is the kingdom of darkness. God is the Ruler of the Kingdom of light (of His children); He is Ruler over the Kingdom of darkness (of the devil); and He is also Ruler over the human kingdoms of the earth. In Revelation 1: 5, we read that Jesus Christ is ‘the ruler over the kings of the earth’.

Because God is righteous and just, even the devil, who opposes God, submits to the precepts and judgements of God. There are no gaps or flaws in these judgements; and so, the devil cannot contradict them or hold charge against them. However, the devil takes advantage of these precepts and tries to exploit them against the children of God. As humans, we are often ignorant of God’s laws and statutes and we do not understand them. As a result, the devil succeeds in deceiving us.

One of these divine laws and precepts is that God does not allow anyone to be tempted beyond what they are able (1Corinthians 10: 13).

Who is the tempter?

‘God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed’ (James 1: 13, 14).

The devil is behind the temptations. One of the names of the devil is: ‘the tempter’.  Apostle Paul writes: ‘lest by some means the tempter had tempted you, and our labour might be in vain’ (1Thessalonians 3: 5).

When the bible tells us that we will not be tempted beyond what we are able, this means that no one will face a power of darkness that is more powerful than him/her. Since the tempter is the devil, this verse simple indicates that God will not allow anyone to face a power of the kingdom of darkness beyond what he/she are able. In other words, God will not allow one to face a temptation beyond his ability.

What is the temptation?

It can be certain circumstances that one goes through.

Who is behind these circumstances?

The powers of darkness are behind this.

However, there is a biblical principle that none of us will face a power or a rank of the kingdom of darkness beyond his ability to resist.

God will not allow one of his children whose spiritual level/stature is one meter to face an evil power that is three meters tall. The bible talks about the giants on earth (Genesis 6) and about Goliath who was over 3 meters tall. This means that there are certain powerful ranks in the kingdom of darkness, if described in our material language, they will be the giants of earth. Behind those giants who faced the people of God in the Old Testament at various eras were high ranks of the powers of darkness.

Of course, the devil wants to destroy. However, God has laws and rules.

Who should be watchful that these laws would be implemented?

On earth, His Church is responsible for that; while in heaven, the angels and saints are responsible for that. Sometimes, we do not carry out our responsibilities, but the angels always do.

Therefore, if one of God’s children is about to be faced by a strong power of darkness bigger/greater than him, the angels will immediately face this strong power and push it away telling it that it has no right to face that person as there are rules. The rule that regulates this matter is that no one will be tempted beyond his ability; and so, this strong power has no right to face this small child of God. Therefore, the angels would push it away.

If our spiritual insight was open, we would have been able to see that there were many temptations that never reached us because the angels and saints faced them and finished the battle before reaching us.

All these matters submit to the laws of the Kingdom of God and the righteousness of God, the King. He is righteous in all His ways and merciful in all His works (Psalm 145: 17). He continues to be fair to us and to the devil until the Day of Judgment when everyone, both humans and the devils, will be judged according to God’s faithfulness and righteousness and according to His laws.

Since I will never face a power bigger than me, this means I have the ability to overcome.

I should keep these principles in my mind; namely:

  • I will never face an evil power bigger than me.
  • If an evil power confronts or attacks me, I have the ability to overcome it.
  • Therefore, if for some reason I am overcome by a power that faces me, this indicates a certain shortcoming on my part. This can be lack of knowledge and understanding of the divine principles, or the strategies of the devil, the spiritual weapons and the resources granted to me; or, it can be lack of faithfulness where I know all this but I am not vigilant and watchful.
To sum up the 3 main principles:
  • The first principle
No power bigger than me will ever confront me.
  • The second principle

I am able to face the power that confronts me and overcome it by using the resources granted to me because God said that if we resist the devil, he will flee from us.

Therefore, if I resist him, he will surely flee; I will surely overcome; there are no two options here.

  • The third principle

If I fail to overcome, this is due to one of two things: either I do not know; or, I know but I do not do what I know; either lack of knowledge or lack of faithfulness; either I do not know or I know but I do not obey or follow what I know.

After discussing the three main principles, let us discuss the three main resources that help us overcome the devil:

  • The power of redemption
  • The word of God
  • The spiritual weapons

1. The Power of Redemption

This refers to all the things that Jesus has done for our redemption because all what Jesus has done for our sake is essentially for the purpose of freeing us and releasing us from the devil himself or from his corruptive work in the human personality.

When Satan deceived Adam and caused him to fall, this resulted in slavery (Satan enslaved man) and corruption (which entered the human nature). Therefore, in redemption Jesus did the reverse of what happened in the fall. The Cross granted us weapons to overcome the devil and the ability to deal with the inner corruption, through sanctification.

The blood of Jesus is a resource against the devil. The bible clearly states: ‘And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony’ (Revelation 12: 11).

The problem is that we are either ignorant of our resources or we see only one resource and focus on it alone and forget about the rest of the resources. In fact, each resource has its valuable place and role in our life. The more we know our resources in their broadness, the more we are capable of overcoming all kinds of temptations and trials.

The blood of Jesus is one of the weapons of redemption.

The Cross is another resource, as written in Colossians 2: 15: ‘Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it (the Cross).

Therefore, the blood of Jesus and the Cross grant us victory; they both terrify the powers of darkness.

The fathers of the Church used to pray holding a cross and they often crossed themselves. By the Cross they resisted the enemy and overcame him. The Cross is the sign of victory.

Everything revealed in the bible has two aspects: the faith aspect and the mystical aspect because man is a spirit found in a body. We need to see all the resources granted to us and at the same time see them in a holistic way with their faith aspect and mystical aspect, the inner and the outer aspects, the spiritual and the material.

Referring to the blood of Jesus, the faith aspect is related to what the bible says about the blood of Jesus. The more I understand, pray and exercise faith, the more I receive power. I should then continue through the mystical aspect, the body and blood of Jesus which I receive in the Holy Communion. This is important because Jesus Himself established this mystery.

The same applies to the Cross. The more I understand the work of the Cross mentioned in the bible and I pray with it, the more I receive power. Also, when I hold a cross and cross myself as the fathers did, I receive power.

This is because I am not only a spirit, but a spirit found in a body. I do not only communicate with the unseen spiritual world, but I also communicate with the visible material world that surrounds me. I do not deal with the powers of darkness in the form of spirits only, but I also deal with the powers of darkness as spirits that operate through human beings, the evil people. Therefore, we cannot focus on an aspect and ignore the other. The richness of our Church lies in her ability to see a complete wholesome picture, not addressing one aspect and leaving the other, but rather seeing fully, a complete and whole picture.

Therefore, exactly as I need to understand the work of the blood of Jesus and pray with what I understand, I should also draw near the altar with faith to receive the holy mysteries and let my lips be moistened with the blood of Jesus, as John Chrysostom said, so that the devil cannot draw near my lips. Similarly, when I read the work of the Cross in the bible and pray with that, I receive power. Also, when I hold a cross in my hands as I pray and cross myself numerously as I pray, I will be opening the way for the mystical aspect. The Cross with its work mentioned in the bible speaks to my spirit and the cross which I hold in my hand speaks to my body, my hands and eyes. The more I do so, the more my faith is enriched. My faith then strengthens the seen aspect; and both of them complete my understanding and resources.

The Resurrection of Christ is another resource in overcoming the devil.

In the Cross was the defeat of the devil and in the resurrection the victory was proclaimed.

The Church celebrates the resurrection throughout the duration of the holy fifties (the fifty days from Easter until the Pentecost) where there is a procession of resurrection in the church and the liturgical worship is in the joyful tune; so that these outer matters may speak to the visible aspect in us and ignite our faith. Faith matters would then increase and grow more; and then one’s whole being would be filled with the power of resurrection ‘that I may know him and the power of his resurrection’ (Philippians 3: 10).

The more the power of resurrection fills my inner being, the more the devil will look –even from afar –and understand that this power of resurrection (which Apostle Paul speaks about) is actually in me and would therefore reconsider and rethink before trying to come near me.

When we try to understand and perceive the resources that are granted to us to resist the enemy, we should see them in their broadness and not only focus on one of them. We should also see them in a holistic way, that is, seeing both the faith aspect and the mystical aspect, the aspect revealed in the word of God and the mystical aspect lived and practised in the church. As a result, we can live with our whole being, as spirits in a body.

Redemption is offered to our whole being. There is even redemption for the body which will reach its fullness when we put on the glorious bodies. However, there are some early manifestations of this now. The fathers of the Church were able to see things in their full picture and were able to experience a foretaste of the manifestation of redemption in their bodies. Therefore, they experienced lightness in their bodies; being carried in the spirit from place to place; their faces and fingers lit during prayers; and some had haloes appearing on their heads. This is an early manifestation of the redemption of the body while they were still in the flesh.

The Ascension of Christ is another resource in overcoming the devil. When Christ ascended, He seated us with Him, above all principality and power and might and dominion (Ephesians 1: 21). By this we can overcome the devil; we can simply proclaim that he is under our feet.

However, when I tell the devil that he is under my feet, I cannot be saying it as mere words that bear no power or as phrases empty of their true meaning and divine truth. I have to understand the meaning of having the devil under my feet. If I just say words that I do not understand, the devil will see that these are words that only my lips are uttering while my inner being comprehends nothing of its meaning and power. He will thus mock me and overcome me. Sometimes we repeat these phrases but reap no result; we do not overcome because we do not understand them; our lips just repeat them.

Yet if I want to face the devil and tell him that he is under my feet, I should understand what happened in the Ascension. I can then face the devil with the this resource of Ascension, knowing that when Christ ascended, He lifted me up with Him and seated me with Him. Because Christ is seated above all the ranks of the powers of darkness, my place in Him is above all these ranks (all principality and power and might and dominion –Ephesians 1: 21); and so, they are under me.

After Christ ascended, He sent to us the Promise of the Father on the day of Pentecost.

The Holy Spirit is another resource to face the devil and overcome him.    I can proclaim: ‘the wind of the Lord drives you’.

In Isaiah 59: 19, it is written: ‘When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him’; in another translation, it reads: ‘the wind of the Lord drives’ (ESV) or the breath of the Lord drives him.

Therefore, many of the church fathers, both in the ancient and modern history, who were gifted in casting out demons, used the ‘breath’; they would breathe/blow into someone who is demon possessed and the demon would be driven away. They used ‘the breath’ and ‘the Cross’ in casting out demons. These are true resources because this is the breath of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.

One of the ways of the enemy is to come in like a flood. Earlier we have said that he can come in a disguised way or he can attack directly. When he comes in like a flood, this would be his method of attacking us.

There are different spiritual resources that we can use to overcome the enemy, depending on the way he comes to us. When he comes as a flood, my weapon to overcome him would be the Spirit of God. Sometimes the enemy comes with intensive evil and overwhelming thoughts telling me; ‘there is no hope; you are defeated; do not even try’.  This is an attack; he is coming in like a flood. I should then tell him: ‘the breath of the Lord will drive you away’.

Because we do not fully understand the resources available for us and we did not learn how to face the devil with them, many of the resources became phrases void of power and many of the confrontations became battling with no victory –though we should have been victorious.

To sum up, the power of redemption includes: the blood of Jesus, the Cross, Resurrection, Ascension, and the power of the Holy Spirit.

2. The Word of God

The word of God is another resource that we can use to overcome the devil. It is written that the sword of the Spirit is the word of God (Ephesians 6: 17).

When Satan tempted Jesus (Matthew 4 & Luke 4), Jesus used the word of God to overcome him.

Jesus could have used other spiritual resources. Even though Jesus had not shed His blood on the Cross at the time of this temptation, the blood of the sacrifices was already used in the Old Testament as a shadow and symbol of the blood of Jesus. Also, in the divine economy, the blood of Jesus has been shed before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13: 8). However, in this temptation, Jesus replied Satan using the word of God. On other occasions when Jesus was casting out demons, He just said a word; He used His power which is based on the power of redemption. He is the Redeemer of humanity and so He ordered the demons to come out using a word. In Matthew 8: 16, it is written that Jesus ‘cast out the spirits with a word’. In this case, He was using the power of redemption.

The devil often comes to us with deceitful thoughts, using the word of God in a wrong way. For example, he would say, ‘isn’t it written: render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s? Be a balanced person. Give this to Caesar and this as well and that as well.’ He keeps suggesting to me to give this and that to Caesar until my whole life becomes Caesar’s and may be only 1% remains for the Lord. This is an example of how we can be deceived by the thoughts of the devil when he uses the word of God in a wrong way, causing us to apply the verses in a way that suits our fallen and fleshly interests.

The word of God is one of the greatest  resources by which we can resist the enemy and he would flee from us. Therefore, the more we read the word of God, memorise it, and use it in our prayers, the more it will become a powerful tool in our mouth against the devil.

When the devil comes with his deceitful thoughts to our mind[1], the word of God protects us, giving us light and understanding –beside being in itself a direct weapon.

The more I learn and memorise the word of God, the more will I find the verses coming spontaneously to my mind, whenever the devil attacks me. As I repeat the verses, I will find that the temptation that was distressing my mind and filling me with frustration and darkness is disappearing. I will find that light comes to my mind, peace fills my soul, the wounds are healed, the confusion is dispelled and is replaced with clarity; my whole being will be filled with peace and light.

The book of Psalms is one of the most important books of Scripture that the fathers of the Church focused on and used as a tool in resisting the devil[2].

The Psalms have a special work and are effective because they are prayers that the Holy Spirit gave to the Psalmist: David, Asaph, Korah and others. He gave them these prayers during difficult situations. These difficult circumstances are essentially the confrontations between man and the powers of darkness. Therefore, the Psalms are the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to the tempted humanity. Thus, they are a direct tool against the devil.

In other words, the Psalms are prayers sung by Psalmists who were going through difficulties and tribulations. The devil is behind these difficulties and tribulations. When the Holy Spirit gives the person a Psalm at that time, this means that He gives him a spiritual tool to use against the devil, the powers of darkness.

3. The Spiritual weapons

We are all familiar with the passage in Ephesians 6:10 – 18 that lists the spiritual weapons.

Yet, this is not the only passage or the only list of spiritual weapons. There are other references in various books of the Scripture that mention specific spiritual weapons of special importance.

The general spiritual weapons mentioned in Ephesians 6 are: the girdle of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the preparation of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit, and praying always in the Spirit.

These are not the only spiritual weapons available. There are also other rich and effective weapons of great value mentioned in other books of Scripture like Isaiah and other books. We will not go into the details of this here because this is just a brief overview.

To sum up:

There are 3 main principles and 3 main resources to overcome the devil.

The 3 main principles are:

  1. Behind the visible temptation there is an unseen tempter. According to the rules of the Kingdom of God, God never allows an evil power greater than me to confront me.
  2. Therefore, I am capable of triumphing in any confrontation; and that is why the bible tells us to resist the enemy and he will flee from us.
  3. I can be defeated in one of two cases: either I do not know (lack of knowledge) or I know but I do not do (lack of faithfulness).
 

The 3 main resources are:

1. The Power of Redemption

This includes various resources/tools. We often focus on one and forget the others. If we know these resources richly and broadly, we will overcome easily.

These tools are:

  • The blood of Jesus: ‘they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb’ (Revelation 12: 11).
  • The Cross: ‘Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it’ (Colossians 2: 15).
  • The Resurrection: it is the proclamation of the victory.
  • The Ascension: When Christ ascended, He lifted us up with Him and seated us in Him above all ranks; and so, the devil is under our feet.
  • The Holy Spirit: the breath of the Lord drives away the enemy when he comes like a flood.

These resources of redemption have a faith aspect and a mystical aspect because the person is not only a spirit, but a spirit in a body. Therefore, we have the celebrations of the Church that highlight the mystical aspect. This includes: the feast of the cross, the holy fifties, the feast of Ascension, and the Pentecost. We also hold a cross while praying. All these things address the visible aspect in order to nourish the faith derived from the word of God; so that my faith may be built and established.

Faith is a spiritual energy. It is built up and is used up, then built up again and used up again and so on. Every time I face the enemy, I face him with this power of faith. In the battle, I lose some of this faith and I need to build it up again. When I understand what the word of God says about all these aspects of redemption, my faith is built up. When I take part in the mystical aspect of the Church services, faith is ignited. Faith continues to be built and ignited and then it is used in the battles and is then rebuilt. So not only will it be built, but also ignited which means that it is ready to be used. It is not only used and runs out, but it gets rebuilt.

2. The Power of the Word of God

The book of Psalms has a special place as a powerful tool against the enemy because it was given by the Holy Spirit to people who were going through temptations and confrontations with the devil.

3. The Power of the Spiritual weapons

The most important list of spiritual weapons is mentioned in Ephesians 6. Yet, there are other weapons mentioned in other books of Scripture including the book of Isaiah[3].

[1] Deceit usually attacks the mind. The mind is one of the most common battle fields of the enemy and deceit is one of the most common methods used by the devil (2 Corinthians 2: 11).

[2] 1 Samuel 16: 23

[3] Isaiah 59: 17

The Spiritual Life 3-5: the Correct Vision_myself

The Correct Vision

B. Correct vision of myself

In this series, we are highlighting three main foundations of the spiritual life; namely: counting the cost; the direction of the heart and having an undivided heart; and having a correct vision of God, of oneself, and of the enemy.

The correct vision of God includes that He is a Trinity. Inasmuch as my vision of God is correct, I will be transformed into His image. We also spoke about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and the infilling of the Spirit which is a continuous process, having manifold channels.

Today, we come to the point about the correct vision of myself.

In order to have a correct vision of myself, I should be able to see my needs as well as my resources; at the same time, I should be able to see my privileges as well as my responsibilities, i.e., using my potentials and talents.

Four main points in order to have a correct vision of oneself:

  • The needs
  • The enabling resources
  • The privileges
  • The responsibilities (using my talents and potentials)

Inasmuch as one has good understanding and correct vision of these four main things, he will have a wholesome and mature personality which is able, through the Holy Spirit, to discover the will of God and fulfill it.

The major problem faced by anyone walking and living in Christ is that one often lives an interrupted and unwholesome spiritual life which leads to spiritual struggles and conflicts after a while. These struggles can cause one’s spiritual life to come to a halt or to stumble and regress.

The reason behind this is that the personality is marred and weak, causing the person to be unable to understand and discover the will of God for his life and obey it. In some cases, the person is able to discover part of God’s will but he may fail to obey it; and hence, feel frustrated. In other cases, the person is unable to discover any part of this divine will; and hence, staggers not knowing which direction to take. This is the result of having an immature and distorted personality which is incapable of seeing the needs, the resources, the privileges, and the responsibilities.

When the soul or the personality grows, matures and is able to perceive correctly, it becomes a wholesome soul/personality, as Apostle Paul says in 1Thessalonians 5: 23: ‘Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ’. One of the meanings of ‘sanctification’, in the New Testament, is to be healthy and wholesome. ‘Sanctify you’, here, means to correct you and make you wholesome in spirit, soul, and body. The spirit needs correction; the soul needs correction; and the body needs correction.

The soul is an important part of the person; it is his personality. When the soul is not correct and is unwholesome, one’s personality will be barren, unfruitful, distorted, and weak.

This practically manifests in one’s lives in being easily distracted, not able to concentrate or focus, having a lot of fears, not knowing what is right and what is wrong. One is also often confused and perplexed, feeling unable and frustrated, and having extreme fluctuations of being enthusiastic to something at a certain time and losing enthusiasm to the very same thing at other times.

These things happen because the soul or the personality needs a process of sanctification and correction. The Holy Spirit does this process. However, an important principle here is that we cannot just do nothing and wait for God to work in us. But, inasmuch as we willingly desire the sanctification, the Holy Spirit accompanies us; inasmuch as we do the required preparation, grace is granted to us. There is always synergism between these two factors: our will and role and the work of the Holy Spirit.

However, if I give in to laziness and complacency, not doing my wilful part, the Holy Spirit will desire to work in me but will be hindered.

The more I stretch out my hand to God, the more the divine Hand is stretched out for me, works with me, and leads me. I may not know the way; but, if I stretch out my hand, the divine Hand will be stretched over me, leading, guiding, and directing me as I walk; telling me to turn right or left or stop for a while and so on. This truth is highlighted in Isaiah 30: 21: ‘Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left’. It is as if someone is speaking to me, guiding me and telling me: ‘this is the way; be careful, you took a wrong turn; there is danger ahead of you; the safe way is that one’.

Inasmuch as I open the rooms of my soul and my heart, grace will come and be poured out, purifying the inner rooms of my soul and correcting the damaged areas[1]. If a window is needed, grace fits a window for me. If a door is needed, grace fits a door and adds bolts to it so that the ideas, sin or the devil do not keep coming in and out destroying me. If there are no doors and these wrong thoughts or sins keep coming in and out, one ends up in ruins, corruption, destruction, and a broken distorted personality. We may appear differently before people; but, if we are honest with ourselves we will see that deep within there is something different from what people see. We may appear as having a strong or pleasant personality while in actual fact we are destroyed. We may be laughing from outside yet weeping from within. We may be nice to someone while deep within we have opposite feelings.

You may here ask: ‘does this mean we should tell people in their faces how we feel about them if we do not like them?’

When the soul is corrected and sanctified, it will have honesty with sincere love. I will be able to be frank with people without hurting them because the truth which I say is accompanied with love. However, if my personality is distorted and not corrected and I try to say the truth to someone, it will come out like sharp hurting arrows. We should neither be fake and untruthful nor be sharp and injurious. If we say things in an outwardly nice way while we feel differently, the listener will receive what is really in our soul.

When the Holy Spirit corrects my soul, pouring in it love and truth, I will be able to talk to others with purity, clarity, transparency and truth. The soul will be pure and transparent and I will not say what I do not mean or contrary to how I feel. If I have something to tell to someone, he will not be hurt but will be happy because I offered him truth mingled with love; it is healing, illuminating, and comfortable.

Before the correction and sanctification of the soul, when I desired to be frank and truthful, this was mingled with soulish inclinations and motivations that were hurting to others. In other instances, it was as if I lived a double personality, saying contrary to what is inside me or acting in certain situations contrary to my real personality. This is due to the inner struggles and the distorted soul or personality which the Holy Spirit have not yet worked in it the words written in 1Thessalonians 5: 23: ‘Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be reserves blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ’. It is important and crucial to allow the Holy Spirit to sanctify the soul.

The sanctification of the body is an advanced stage. We read examples of it in the life of the saints. The Holy Spirit sanctified their bodies to the extent that some of them shone; some were elevated above the ground; some were carried in the spirit from place to place; some ate once a week; and some fasted 40 days on water only. They fasted and ate little without falling ill; on the contrary, they conquered illnesses. On the other hand, when we eat, food may sometimes upset our stomach and we may fall ill. This is because the body is not yet sanctified.

When the Holy Spirit finishes His work in the soul, He starts to sanctify the body and even illnesses cannot conquer the body[2]. The natural needs like food and sleep become no longer necessary or essential. The natural features change; illness and decay disappear.  St Macarius, the Great, used to sleep for 2 hours a day leaning on a wall and this was sufficient rest for him.

These are truly advanced levels but it is the work of the Holy Spirit in whoever understands and wants. These graces are not only for some and not for others. They are meant for every person desiring to obey Christ to the end and give his heart to Christ without division.

In order to cooperate with the Holy Spirit, I need to understand and then obey. If I do not understand, I will not know what to do. It is written: ‘My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge’ (Hosea 4: 6). It is also written: ‘And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding(Jeremiah 3: 15). After I understand, it will be my choice to obey. I may wish to obey but I may not know what to do; or, I may know what to do but I do not wish to obey. Therefore, both the understanding and the obedience are necessary.

We can sum up the main points we discussed as follows:

  • The soul is marred by the corruption of the fallen nature; there are manifestations of this inner distortion.

When the soul is distorted, I behave as if I have a double personality and as if my soul has no doors. Any sin can go in and corrupt or destroy; any thoughts from the devil can come in and do as they please. As a result, I may sometimes get angry or have unclean thoughts and feel unable to control my soul. I am unable to say no to sin and to the devil, unable to prevent them from entering my inner house.

In Matthew 12: 43 – 45, Jesus speaks about the soul likening it to a house. If the devil enters this house and finds it empty, he brings with him other devils and they dwell in that house of the soul. If he finds this house, the soul, adorned, occupied by the Holy Spirit and filled with grace, he cannot come near it.

Each one needs to be honest with himself and ask oneself if his house has doors. Some will find that their house has no doors and so anything can freely go in and out: sin, evil thoughts, and the devil.

Some will realise that their house has no windows. This means that it has no specific direction and is carried by the wind. As a result, they may have partialism in the relationships. One day, they are enthusiastic to a certain view point and the next day to another. One day, they are involved with a certain group of people and the next day with another. This is because the windows of the house of this person are open and so the wind comes in carrying him to a certain direction. The next day the wind comes from another direction and carries the person in the opposite direction. Therefore, in Ephesians 4: 14, Apostle Paul writes about the child in the spirit saying: ‘that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine’.

If we have windows[3] which we shut, the winds of the enemy that come to the land of our soul will not be able to get through and carry us about. In other words, if we have windows, we will not be swayed to and fro by a certain doctrine or by an idea from a friend making us side with this friend and then an opposite idea from another friend makes us side with the second one and be hostile to the first. What kind of heart would this be, a heart that has partiality and sectarianism, siding with people at times and rejecting them and siding with others after that[4]!

This would be a house with no windows or with open windows where the cunning enemy[5], the devil, sends in corrupt and poisoned winds from various directions. They direct the winds to the area of relationships at times making one side with some and reject others and then reject the ones he had earlier sided with. They can then direct the winds to the area of ideologies; so, one gets enthusiastic to a certain idea and then rejects it to be enthusiastic to a different one. One can get enthusiastic about spiritual matters and feel that they are of great importance and then swings in the opposite direction viewing them as extreme attitudes and so he focuses on matters in the world like outer appearance or status. This means that this person has no defined direction. He is not able to discern the precious from the vile and is not able to discern the important priorities. This person is not able to see that the spiritual matters are not part of life but they are the lead of one’s life because Jesus is the only One who leads the soul to green pastures and still waters (Psalm 23: 2). This person is not able to set his priorities right and know that things cannot all be done at the same time[6] and that there are things that are important at a particular time and other things will come later; God created the world in six days; one cannot do everything at one time.

This is the effect of the fall on the soul when the windows of this inner house are missing or one of its walls has fallen. This makes one feel as though his personality has no specific features and as if he has no defined direction; hence, people and circumstances often define him.

One may face certain circumstances that define and shape his personality in a certain way. After a while, he feels that he does not like this form and he want to change it; and so his personality takes a different form and shape. People close to him would probably notice that he keeps turning from one form to another.

However, when we come to Him, who alone can sanctify us, He shows us the divine shape or form that we were created upon. Each one of us has been created on an eternal divine image. God alone can correct my current image which is distorted, restoring it to the correct eternal image that I was created on. This is the true meaning of the correction and sanctification of the soul.

  • There is a real need for sanctification and there are manifestations and examples of this sanctification

We discussed examples of the manifestation of the sanctification of the body in the life of the early fathers. Similarly, there are also examples and manifestations of the sanctification of the soul.

  • The sanctified soul becomes filled with peace and her conflicts disappear. This is an important sign of sanctification.

Clarity comes to the mind. Instead of the confusion and the mixing up, thinking of many things at the same time and wanting to do everything at the same time, light comes to my mind, making my steps clear and helping me discern the priorities and the things I need to focus on at a particular time. I will know when to do what; what to focus on at that moment and what to postpone for later so that I do not entangle myself with too many things at the same time and fail to do any of them.

However, this prioritisation cannot be done only intellectually[7] because I can think of a certain order today and few days later I may change my mind about the order of my priorities. It is like making a schedule and changing it on and on until I finally decide I will have no schedule. As a result, I will be moving aimlessly and at random.

When the Holy Spirit sanctifies and corrects the soul, I will experience illumination coming to my mind and peace overwhelming my soul. The light that comes to my mind helps me define my priorities. Previously, many matters came to my mind at the same time; but, after the sanctification, I learned to push them aside and wait for the right time of each matter. Every matter has its appropriate time. One should set his priorities and not allow less important things to encroach and confuse these priorities. Certain things need to wait to be done in their right time and order. Initially, I can write down these priorities until they are established within me and I no longer get confused.

  • Another sign of sanctification and correction of the soul is that the emotions will be cleansed and freed.

Before this correction and sanctification, one would have like a sticky layer on the emotions causing one to either be attracted to people or repel from them, living according to the human passions; and so, the passions dominate his life.

There is a difference between passions and lusts/desires as highlighted in Galatians 5: 24: ‘And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires’.

The passions are the attractions and repulsions. If the emotions are not cleansed and sanctified, one’s life would be a very tiring combination of attractions and repulsions; and both deprive one of his peace.

When the soul is sanctified, one’s dealings with others will be wholesome and characterised by freedom. When he deals with people on a close level, there will be love and comfort; and when he deals from afar, there will be peace and acceptance.

The bible speaks about ‘the glorious liberty of the children of God’ (Romans 8: 21). This means that when this liberty is complete, it is full of glory. If I try to describe the kind of freedom that the Holy Spirit works in the emotions and in the soul, it will be very difficult to describe because the glory cannot be described, it can only be seen, beheld, lived, and tasted.

The bible also speaks about the glorious joy[8]. We have a lot of sadness, but there is a kind of joy that is full of glory.

The true and genuine work of the Holy Spirit in the soul and emotions leads to freedom, freeing one from the attractions and repulsions and from the conflicts and struggles.

Before the sanctification, one can easily feel tense and uncomfortable if he senses that someone does not consider his feelings, does not accept him, or takes advantage of him. The attractions become slavery and the tension and repulsion make one lose his peace. Thus, one becomes like a dummy, losing his humanity and personality.

If we desire to live a wholesome life in Christ, this process of correction and sanctification should take place in our soul. If this does not happen, our life will be full of struggles and conflicts; it will be superficial, weak and frail. We are the ones who will suffer as a result of this. We will not know what to do; we will be unsuccessful in our life and not able to live a life in Christ.

  • Another sign of sanctification is getting rid of the paralysis and being able to obey the commandment with pleasure.

We often do not like the idea of obeying the commandment because of our experiences of failure. We know that we should love our enemies and turn the other cheek and so on; yet we feel that these commandments are difficult to follow and we consider them advanced levels.

However, when the Holy Spirit sanctifies and corrects the soul, He grants us ability; we receive a certain enabling in our will. The Holy Spirit puts a girdle of power on our waist, a belt on the waist to strengthen us.

We have natural inclination to laziness and being lax and we often suffer from a constant feeling of tiredness. This is not physical tiredness because the physical tiredness can be resolved by few hours of sleep, but it is rather a deep inner tiredness in one’s soul; this cannot be resolved by sleep or leisure.

When the Holy Spirit comes to correct our souls in His amazing way, He girds our waist with truth[9], straightening and strengthening our lax and floppy waist. We often fluctuate between self-pity to caring-less. This is because the waist of our soul is loose; it flings forward pitying oneself and flings backwards caring less.  When the Holy Spirit works in us and corrects us, He puts on our waist a belt/girdle[10] of power. As a result, we feel that our waist is strengthened and straightened and does not bend forward or backward.

Consequently, if someone says a hurting word and I feel my soul starting to swing forward pitying itself, I find myself girded and able to put this situation behind my back and not get hurt, knowing that I have higher sublime and divine purposes and that my dignity cannot be scratched by a word because God bestows on my great honour. When I find myself inclined to laziness, the girdle on my waist strengthens me to get up and do my role, knowing that when I take one step, He takes ten; and when I do a little bit, He multiplies it.

There is great sweetness in God’s blessings that come to us as divine gifts which transform us deep within and change our outward circumstances. They restore a person to be a true human and not a dummy.

Now we move on to seeing my needs, resources, privileges and responsibilities.

  • Needs

The soul needs to be free, healed and sanctified.

Freedom and healing are the passive aspects while sanctification is the active process.

Some experiences in the past, or maybe recent ones, may have caused wounds or injuries in the soul. These injurious experiences may be words that some people have said or certain circumstances and suffering that I have been through.

Recurring sins which continue for a period of time may also give a chance to the devil to dominate certain areas in the soul; and hence, these areas become paralysed. This has its impact on the soul and requires a process of sanctification.

In addition to this, there are needs that should be met during childhood and as one grows up. These needs may not have been fulfilled. For example, a child needs to feel safe and secure, to be loved, appreciated, and accepted. If the parents were unable to practically satisfy these needs, this child grows up with a soul that is needy and discontented. This soul would; therefore, need healing, freedom, and fulfillment.

These are the passive areas in relation to the needs of the soul. Yet, there is another important aspect.

Not only does the soul need to be healed of her wounds, freed from her bonds and her needs fulfilled and satisfied; but the soul should also be transformed into the image of Christ.

The human nature with its habits and characteristics should change in accordance to the biblical picture. For example, sleeping or eating habits, or any other unsuitable things that we get used to and that become habits in our life, should change into correct Kingdom habits. One should measure his life against the standards of the Kingdom of God outlined in the bible.  This is because we no longer belong to the earthly family that brought us up according to certain habits neither do we belong to our friends who may have encouraged us into certain habits; but, we belong to the Kingdom of God. Therefore, we should adjust to new habits and manners that comply with the Kingdom image.

The bible presents to us a clear example of how to live on earth in accordance to the Kingdom standard through the Person of Christ who was incarnated in a human form, taking our flesh and living with this flesh on earth in a certain manner.

Jesus was meek and lowly in heart[11]. Therefore, I should not say that I am used to getting angry if someone upsets me. If this is the case, I should change this habit by praying, repenting, and moving step by step until the Holy Spirit sanctifies my soul, changing the habits that I acquired from my family, friends, and circumstances; and instilling in me new habits and new nature.

I need to look inside myself to find the negative hindering habits which I have acquired. I should then learn the new Kingdom customs that I need to be changed to. The image that I should put before me is the example of Christ, how He lived on earth. I should also look at examples of men and women of God, the saints, who followed in His footsteps and were able to apply the example of Christ to their life. I should keep these examples before me; the bible refers to them as the great cloud of witnesses that surround us (Hebrews 12: 1). We need to look intently at this cloud to observe the various examples. As we do so, the Holy Spirit who is working in us this necessary transformation will portray in our minds the correct image which we should be transformed to.

The more I listen and respond to the Holy Spirit, the more He quickens my heart and draws my attention to situations where I had acted in a certain way while I was supposed to act otherwise. The Holy Spirit acts like a mirror that shows me how I had acted and how I should have acted.

I need to learn to come before the Lord quietening myself and revising my actions. In these moments of reflection and revision, the Holy Spirit draws before me a picture, highlighting to me how I behaved in certain situations and as if saying: ‘do you think this is the picture of the children of God; is it a reflection of the Kingdom of God?’ I would then realise that what I did was wrong. The Holy Spirit then tells me: ‘do not stop at the point of thinking that you were wrong or that you are bad because this does not glorify God; focus on the other picture of the Kingdom which you need to acquire’.

The Holy Spirit then portrays in my mind and my heart the correct behaviour in a certain situation so that I may know it, remind myself of it, ask for it in my prayers, and train myself to act according to it.

Through this process, I will be transformed from one image to another, from glory to glory, from one level to another, and from one step to another; I will acquire grace after grace[12], power after power[13], until Christ is formed in me, as Apostle Paul says in Galatians 4: 19.

It is a process of inner shaping and transformation where the weak areas of the soul get strengthened; the distorted areas are corrected; the corrupted proud areas become humble; and the areas that have the form of this world are changed[14].

The soul is the vessel where grace is poured. Therefore, the more this vessel is wholesome, not marred, restricted, wounded, or crushed, the more it will be filled with grace; it will broaden and will be able to perceive the full will of God.

My soul is also a mirror of myself. If half of this mirror is broken or blurred, I will only perceive a small part of the will of God; what I can see will be half of what is granted to me. God has prepared for me much more than that but I will be unable to see it because half of my mirror is blurred, damaged or broken; and so, I can only see through the other undamaged half. Therefore, the sanctification of the soul is an important process.

  • Enabling Resources

After perceiving my needs, I should also perceive my enabling resources.

We have understood that the soul needs to be freed, healed, satisfied, transformed and reshaped.

There are, in fact, four major needs:

  • Satisfaction of the needs that were not fulfilled or met in one’s childhood;
  • Freedom from the bonds and dominion of the devil;
  • Healing from the wounds and injuries caused by people or circumstances;
  • Reshaping of the habits and conduct.

How can this be achieved?

It is through the enabling resources, which are granted to me.

My resources are: The Bible and The Church.

  • The Bible

I should read the bible and pray with what I read.  The book of Psalms is a prayer book. The epistles of Paul explain what Christ has done for us; they also explain the meaning of taking off the old and putting on the new man.

I should start to read the bible with understanding and desire to apply it. For example, I understand that the epistle to the Philippians is about joy; what are the practical steps to acquire this joy? The epistle to the Thessalonians talks about the Second coming of Christ; how can I correctly await His coming? It also talks about faith, hope and love; how can this be manifested in me? The epistle to the Ephesians is about the Church, the body of Christ; what is my understanding of the Church? Colossians is about Christ, the Head; do I truly see Christ as the Head of His Church? One gospel talks about the Kingdom of God; another gospel talks about the incarnated Christ. The book of Acts shows us how the Church lived in power.

As I read the bible, I start to understand and perceive the correct pictures, correct notions, and the correct steps that would drive my life towards spiritual growth and transformation into the image of Christ.

  • The Church

The other resource given to me is the Church, which is the practical application.  The bible is like the lectures, the Church life and worship is like the practical workshops.

The writings of the early fathers show us how they understood the word of God and how they applied it in their lives. These are the practical steps found in the Church.

If I fail to link the two together; namely, the bible and the application of it, I will not be able to move forward.

I can read the bible and understand some parts and do not understand others. I can read the biography of a saint and get so touched by it but then I forget about it thinking that it is quite impossible for me to be changed into a similar image. The biography of a saint is not a story to be touched by and that’s it. In Hebrews 13: 7, we read: ‘Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith’ (ESV). This means that I should desire to imitate them, to look at their life as an example that I desire to move towards, not just to be touched by it and then forget it. When I am touched by the life of a saint or a man of God, I should not stop at this level but I should think how to imitate him. The bible helps me find the steps. This saint lived these verses of the bible; they are the steps written in his biography; he lived these biblical passages; he is the practical application of this epistle; he is the practical steps of these verses. I then start to link both.

For example, during our university course, if we only attend the lectures without the practical workshops or experiments in the laboratory, we may fail to understand many topics; and vice versa. We may understand some theoretical information but fail to apply them. Similarly, it is important to link the bible and the Church life. The bible shows us the principles and the signs to follow in the path while the Church shows us practical examples of people who lived according to these principles and reached their goal.

The liturgical life of the Church is a channel of grace. The sacraments of the Church are channels of grace; each sacrament transfers to us a certain grace and help. The prayers of the Church, the praises, the liturgies, the Psalms, the ministers who are examples in it, the doctrines, and the faith that is passed on, are all various channels.

The Church life is the channel of grace that helps me receive the transforming power; and the examples of the saints who truly lived in accordance to the word of God.

To sum up, I have needs; yet, I have resources.  My needs are: to be healed, to be free, to be fulfilled, and to be reshaped. My resources are: the bible and the Church life. The principles and steps are in the bible. The application, the practical examples, and the channels of grace are in the Church.

  • Privileges

God does not only ask us to do things like following Him and being vigilant on our sanctification; but, He has also granted us great privileges.

He took what is ours and gave us what is His. This is the meaning of incarnation. When Jesus became Man, He did things that became ours; He gave them to us; what He did in the flesh became ours.

Therefore, if I am in Christ, and Christ has ascended to the heavens, this means I have also ascended in Him. It is written: ‘raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus’ (Ephesians 2: 6). My place is not on earth; my place is in Christ. The enemies are under my feet. But, I first need to see correctly and have a correct vision. I need to see that I am in Christ.

Also, I need to view the body as holy and sanctified, not as lusts that tempt me. When Christ took our flesh, He sanctified the body; this holiness became ours. I need to have a correct vision and not view the flesh with fear or as a temptation; but rather accept it and understand that it has been sanctified. This is the work of Christ who took on our flesh and became man. When He took the human flesh, He knew no sin; and so, the flesh became sanctified. This is another privilege that has been granted to us in Christ; but, we need to have the correct vision.

If I fail to see the privileges and believe them, they will not take place in my life. But, if I see them, understand them, and faith is stirred in me, I will witness the results of these privileges in my life. If I understand the meaning of made us sit together in the heavenly places and my faith is stirred. I will be able to say:

I am in Christ and the devils are under my feet[15].

I am in Christ and the world in beneath me; I am above the world and it cannot overcome me[16].

I am in Christ; and the Father loves me; I am His.

I am in Christ and Christ is in me[17]; and the heavenly Father is my Father exactly as He is the Father of the Son[18].

These privileges are the blessings of redemption, as the bible calls them: ‘has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ’ (Ephesians 1: 3).

These manifold blessings reach us through Christ’s redemptive work: His incarnation (including His birth, baptism in the Jordan, the temptation in the wilderness), His Crucifixion, His Resurrection, His Ascension, and the sending forth of the Holy Spirit.

The whole redemptive plan of Christ has blessings that are granted to us. Incarnation granted us these blessings. The Cross conquered sin, death, and the devil. Resurrection lifted us up.

To illustrate: if there is a serpent and I am afraid of it. My older brother kills it and tells me that it is now dead. Yet, I am still afraid to even look at it while it is dead. My brother would then hold my hand and tell me to tread on it while he holds my hand. Similarly, on the Cross, Christ put to death sin and death; by death He trampled on death. Then, in the Resurrection, He told me that it is not enough to put to death all these things, but He will lift me above them. It is written: ‘If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God’ (Colossians 3: 1).

The Ascension is the rest. He ascended and made me sit with Him. It is not enough to be resurrected, but also to dwell in the rest[19], to be filled with peace instead of the many fears I have.  Our fallen human nature is full of fear: we are afraid of ourselves (our lusts and inner troubles), our parents (some love us and some do not), our friends (some are faithful others backbite), the devil, the future, and everything. We are even afraid of the spiritual life because we fail to walk as we should; and so, we get frustrated and sometimes despair.

In the Ascension, Christ sat in the heavenly places and made us sit with Him. Christ knew that one of man’s problems is fear which continually chases us and surrounds us. Therefore, He did not leave us in this fear. He finished the work of redemption and He knew that we will not be able to enjoy His complete work unless we are seated up with Him.

There we will be filled with comfort, rest, and trust in the fulfilling and tender Fatherhood that surrounds us and embraces us, in the divine love that compels us (2Corinthians 5: 14), in the rich grace that comes after us, and in our weakness His power is made perfect because His grace is sufficient for us (2Corinthians 12: 9).

He surrounds us with heavenly help of the angels whom He sends to serve us. It is written that they are ‘ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation’ (Hebrews 1: 14). We also have the saints who are the cloud of witnesses that overshadows us (Hebrews 12: 1). Also, the Holy Spirit dwells in us. We have the Church, the sacraments and other channels of grace.

He granted us much. We need to listen, understand, receive and live according to the privileges granted to us..

To sum up, the privileges are the blessings of redemption that have been granted to us through Christ who became man. He was incarnated, crucified, risen, ascended and sat in the heavenly places, and sent to us the Holy Spirit.

  • Responsibilities (my potentials and talents put into action)

If we have been given such great privileges that make us free and lifted up in Him, we should realise that we have responsibilities.

We have responsibilities towards the church and the world we live in.

I should be a living active member in the Church, faithfully using the talents that God has granted me. I should use them for my spiritual growth and for the spiritual growth of my brothers and sisters. I should use them so that my church may carry out her message fully.

Each person is granted certain talents and gifts[20]. The more I recognise them and use them, the more there will be spiritual energy which will be added to my church. As a result, my church would be full with manifold spiritual gifts and energies which are used to fulfil the needs of others.

There are gifts and talents which I can use in my church, for the sake of my church. But, there are also other gifts and talents which I can use in the world, for the sake of the world. The circle of the world can be my colleagues or neighbours or any other circles that I may come across in the world. What I do in my church is different from what I do in the world.

In my church, people love Jesus, worship Him and serve Him. We are similar but not exactly the same. We are similar in our faith, but we are not given the same talents. Therefore, if my brother is cast down, I may be able to encourage him. Another day, I may be cast down or suffering from any kind of weakness and my brother encourages me. A third brother can help me and help my brother in a different matter that neither me nor that brother can help each other with. This is the meaning of edifying one another, as we read in 1Thessalonians 5: 11: ‘comfort each other and edify one another’. We should ‘stir up love and good works…exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching’ (Hebrews 10: 24, 25). We should remind one other of the nearness of His Second Coming so that we may watch and be awake.

With people outside the church, we will have a different message. We will tell them about the One who loves them and died for their sake to save them. We will tell them that one may be spiritual lost, like the Prodigal son, but can be found. We should be for them as light and salt[21]; lighting the steps so that they may find the way and adding salt to life so that it can get rid of its corruption and loss of purpose. Instead of being with no life and no purpose, they may walk in the way, the truth, and the life[22].

These are my responsibilities.

Finally, having a correct vision of myself means to be able to see my needs, resources, privileges and responsibilities.

[1] Paul speaks about “building” the inner life (1 Corinthians 3: 9, 10).

[2] St. Macarius, the Alexandrian, lived about 100 years without having any illness despite his vigorous ascetic life.

[3] The windows are the thoughts and senses.

[4] Galatians 1: 10

[5] 2 Corinthians 2: 11

[6] Ecclesiastes 3: 1

[7] Proverbs 3: 5, 6

[8] 1Peter 1: 8b

[9] Ephesians 6: 14

[10] Luke 12: 35

[11] Matthew 11: 29

[12] John 1: 16

[13] Psalm 84: 7

[14] Romans 12: 2

[15] Ephesians 1: 20 – 23

[16] John 16: 33

[17] John 17: 21

[18] 1 John 3: 1, 2

[19] Hebrews 4: 9 – 11

[20] Ephesians 2: 10

[21] Matthew 5: 13, 14

[22] John 14: 6

The Spiritual Life3-4:the CorrectVision_HolySpirit

The Correct Vision: Correct vision of God

IV. The Person of the Holy Spirit

‘This Jesus God raised up, of which we all are witnesses. Therefore, having been exalted to the right hand of God and having received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father, he has poured out this that you see and hear’ (Acts 2: 32, 33).

This was on the day of Pentecost.

The Holy Spirit is the great and amazing gift that the Father has granted us.

We can easily form an image in our mind of God, the Father because we usually link this to our understanding of the earthly father.

We also easily form an image of the Son because we read about Jesus a lot in the gospels and there are many icons and pictures of Him.

However, it may not be easy for us to form an image of the Person of the Holy Spirit. We often think of Him as a power or a Spirit that is unseen.

It is true that He is a power; yet, He is also a Person. Each hypostasis in the Trinity is a Person who has a distinct role; at the same time, they are in each other and they are in unity as One God.

Therefore, the Holy Spirit is a Person of the Trinity. He has been granted to us as a gift from the Father in order to walk with us. He is called the ‘Paraclete’ which means that He walks by my side and He defends me against the adversary. He also dwells in me. Therefore He is in me and beside me. He wants to hold my hand and walk with me because I do not know the way well and also because I will face enemies on my journey.

The Spiritual Life 3-3: the Correct Vision_the Son

The Correct Vision: Correct vision of God

III. The Person of the Son

Jesus, as one of the Persons of the Trinity, is both a mystery and a revelation.

He is the mystery of the Father[1]; He is in the bosom of the Father[2] and is united with Him.

Yet, the Son came out of this bosom to reveal to us the Father and help us understand who the Father is.

This mystery is eternally with the Father and has been revealed in the fullness of time[3] so that we may know who the Father is; He was incarnated and became our salvation and redemption. Therefore, He is the mystery who revealed the Father and who also revealed our salvation and redemption[4].

To talk about the Person of Christ, we need to go through the books of the Scripture, the word of God. As we know, Jesus is the Word of God, the “Logos”. Therefore, the Bible is Christ in the pages of the Scripture; and at the same times, these pages tell us about a mystery, the mystery of the incarnated Christ.

In other words, Jesus was revealed in the Bible; and the bible comprises lines and pages about an incarnated Person, Christ. Therefore, in order to speak about Christ, we need to go through the books of Scripture.

In the books of Moses, Christ is the word of God who completed the act of Creation[5]. God created the world through His word. He said: ‘Let there be…and there was’. Therefore, the word coming out of the mouth of the Father is the mystery of Christ, the Word. He is in the bosom of the Father and is united with Him, and when the Father speaks, every word that proceeds from His mouth is Life and power because these words are Christ Himself, going out to humanity and directed towards it.

Christ is a mystery and a revelation.

The first revelation is that He is the Word proceeding from the mouth of God creating the world. God created us through the hand of Christ; we are the work of Christ’s hand. God is the Creator and the Word is the act of creation by which we have been created.

In the book of Proverbs we read:

‘Then I was beside Him as a master craftsman; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him, Rejoicing in His inhabited world, and my delight was with the sons of men’ (Proverbs 8: 30, 31).

Here Christ is speaking in the incarnated form as the Wisdom (Wisdom Incarnate). So, Christ is the Wisdom[6]. There is no separation between the Word of God and the Wisdom of God because every time God speaks, Wisdom comes out of His mouth, filling the mind with amazement and power, and performing acts.  

Thus, Christ is the Word of God and He is also the Wisdom of God.

Christ is also the power of God[7] who performed all God’s will and plans. God’s plan on earth was made possible by the Second Person of the Trinity through His Redemptive work. He is the power of God who performed and completed God’s plan and will on earth.

Christ who is the Word, Wisdom and Power of God made Creation, made the plans for it, and came to save it.

If anyone wants to discover God’s plan for his life, the only key to enter into this will or plan is through Christ, the Word and Wisdom of God.

Christ has all the divine plans because He is the divine Wisdom and the divine Word. He is the One who made human beings and prepared for them their plans: ‘For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them’ (Ephesians 2: 10).

In the book of Psalms, we read about Christ the Saviour and Redeemer, even before this manifestation in the New Testament. In the Old Testament, we read about the Messiah, the Redeemer and Saviour. He was a Saviour not only of sins and spiritual weaknesses but He also saves and delivers from difficult circumstances, problems, and tribulations[8]. He is the One who delivers and releases us from all the evil plans of the devil. He redeems us by taking our condemned place and giving us His righteous place. He delivers us from any problems we face. This is how they viewed Him in the Old Testament.

He is the Messiah that all the generations awaited and to whom they sung their Psalms and praises. The first one who spoke about the Messiah was Hannah, Samuel’s mother, in her praise[9]. It is remarkable that in her praise Virgin Mary took parts of Hannah’s praise. Hannah was the first one to speak about the Messiah; then, Virgin Mary, the Mother of the Messiah took parts of Hannah’s praise and added them to her praise[10].

The Messiah they awaited and praised saves and delivers from all problems. In fact, the spiritual problems and sins result in the problems and difficult circumstances that we face in the world. The devil and our fallen nature are the reason behind both kinds of problems. Inasmuch as we receive from the work of redemption in our inner life, our outside circumstances get resolved –no matter how difficult our surrounding may be. A certain spiritual sphere or realm where there are angels and divine presence would surround us. Therefore, even if we face difficult circumstances, it will not be easy for them to invade us or enter in. Because of this, the people were able to see that the Messiah saves both from inside and from outside. He sets them both right as there is coloration between the two.

The prophets also spoke about Christ in various ways; each prophet saw Him in a way different from the other.

Zechariah saw Him in a very gentle and tender way as wine and grain: ‘Grain will make the young men thrive, and new wine the young women’ (Zechariah 9: 17).

There is a deep divine truth in these words. Adam was created to be the power of God that performs and carries out God’s plans on earth. Eve was created to be the delight of God on earth and absorb Adam’s hardships and renew his energy and power. Yet, when sin entered, Adam became a god who wants to dominate and Eve became a stumbling block on earth.

Therefore, Zechariah is here saying that the redeemer will restore creation to its first beauty and glory; He will offer Himself as grain that nourishes the new Adam, the inner redeemed man; and so this new Adam would eat Christ and nourish on Him because He is the grain that will make this new inner man grow and will strengthen him to be able to carry out God’s plan on earth. Christ is also the wine that Eve will drink and be filled with joy and delight and so would become the delight of earth, lifting up its hardships[11].

Micah saw Christ as the Ruler, whose goings forth are from of old:

‘But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting’ (Micah 5: 2).

He plans everything and has an economy for everything; no one is greater than Him. There is no wisdom above His wisdom; He has an economy for the life of each person which is like a tune, a symphony. As a result, man’s life becomes a symphony on earth.

Not only did Micah see Him as the Ruler, who has an economy and plan for a person’s life, but He is also the Ruler of the nations; He is the King of all the kings of the earth. Through Him, the rulers can receive wisdom to help them govern their nations.

Jacob saw Him as ‘Shiloh’ which means ‘the One who has all our matters in His hands’:

The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff between his feet, until Shiloh comes. And to him shall be the obedience of nations’ (Genesis 49: 10).

Our matters are in His hands not in the hands of those at work or our managers or superiors. Our matters are only in the hands of Jesus Christ who is our Head.

Haggai saw Him as ‘the Desire of All Nations’[12]. Any time He is mentioned, He is desired. The more we draw close to Him, we desire Him more and love Him more.

Solomon saw Him as the Bridegroom for whom the bride is being prepared.

Solomon described Him using the most wonderful descriptions saying:

 ‘My beloved is white and ruddy, Chief among ten thousand’ (Song of Solomon 5: 10).

‘While the king is at his table, my spikenard sends forth its fragrance’ (Song of Solomon 1: 12).

He is the Bridegroom who pours out love to His bride (whether each individual or the Church), a love which is not of this world. It is a love that purifies the emotions from all fake love, granting the true love that satisfies.

He is the One who made us and so He knows that our emotions can only be filled and satisfied with love which is of a certain kind. He Himself is Love; He is the incarnated Love. He is the One who pours love in our hearts, a love that purifies us from the love of the world. It is a bridal love of a special kind that satisfies our emotions.

The Father offers us a special kind of fatherly love that satisfies our deep inner needs from birth, including the need to belong, be looked after and receive tenderness. Jesus offers bridal love that satisfies our emotions, feelings, and affections. These emotions need to be filled with love; otherwise, it will beg for love from various sources. The more she begs love, she gets hurt and exposed. The love of Jesus is bridal, rich and satisfying.

This brings us to the New Testament. First, we see how the four evangelists saw Christ. They saw Him in different ways. They saw Him as a lion, as an eagle, as a King, and as a man.

He was seen as a King with great reverence.

He was seen as the Lion who has all power and authority and so can conquer the devil. Though the devil ‘walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour’ (1Peter 5: 8), the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5: 5) has all the power and the authority to defeat the devil.

He was also seen as a man who is tender and full of sweetness and compassion, caring for all His creation. He cared for the children. He also cared for the women at a time when women were not respected or well treated (before the coming of Christ). When the gospels mention the miracles of Christ, we see that half of them were done for men and half were done for women. We see the same thing in the parables that Jesus mentioned where half of them included men and the other half included women. We often do not notice this, but this is important because Jesus meant to restore to women their dignity and honour and highlight that there is no difference between male and female in honour. Paul highlighted this later in his epistle where he wrote: ‘there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus’ (Galatians 3: 28).

In Genesis 1: 27 we read: ‘So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them’. God has fatherhood and motherhood and so when He wanted to reflect Himself in human beings, He created the two forms: male and female; yet, both are equal and the same.

When Christ came to earth to show us who God is (for Christ is the image of God –as Paul wrote in Hebrews and Colossians), He showed us that God has created us in His image and that the man and the woman are both equal. Therefore, He performed miracles with men and women and with children both boys and girls. He healed the epileptic son (Matthew 17:14-18) and the daughter of the Canaanite woman (Matthew 15:16-28). In His parables, He spoke about men and woman. He likened the Kingdom of God to yeast that a woman took and hid in three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened (Luke 13: 21). He came to the whole of creation.

The evangelists saw Christ as the Priest who offers sacrifices. Apostle Paul also said that He is in the heavenly places interceding on our behalf and offering unseen sacrifices on our behalf (Hebrews 7:25; 8: 1 – 3).

Apostle John saw Him as the hovering eagle, the incarnated divinity[13]. He is very high in His divinity, and at the same time he is very close to man in His incarnation.

When we read the gospel of John, we clearly see the divinity of Christ, that He is God. At the same time, if we read any part of this gospel, we can put ourselves in the place of Christ and say the same words or pray the same prayers. For example, Jesus said: ‘For this reason I was born, and for this reason I have come into the world’ (John 18: 37). Any one of us can say this prayer after discovering his/her purpose in life. Jesus also said: ‘I have finished the work which You have given Me to do’ (John 17: 4). Each one of us should know the work which has been given to him/her and continue to do it until he completes it and enters into his rest.

We can say the same words that Jesus said and apply them to our lives because Apostle John presented Christ as the incarnated divinity and the Son who is sent forth at the same time. The Son made each one of us become a son of the heavenly Father; and that is why we can pray the same prayers of Christ and follow in His footsteps. Therefore, in the opening chapter of the gospel of John, we read: ‘But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God’ (John 1: 12).

Apostle John wanted to highlight that His gospel reveals that Christ is God; yet, He is the incarnated divinity, the God-Man. He is God, the Son, who came to show us how a son of God should live. He made each one of us a child of God; so, we can follow in His footsteps, pray His same prayers, and take our place in the heavenly Father like the Son.

The book of Acts speaks about the Church. At the beginning of this book we read: ‘for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved’ (Acts 4: 12).

When we come to the book of Acts, we suddenly realise that Christ has become a message which we proclaim and preach ‘Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus’ (Colossians 1: 28). In Romans 1: 5, Apostle Paul writes: ‘Through Him we have received grace and apostleship’.

Christ has become a message that should be proclaimed. He is a message of redemption, salvation, life, mercy, truth, and the way, for He is the way the truth and the life (John 14: 6). He is a message that we should be proud of.

The epistles speak about the Church. Reading the epistles, we start to understand what Moses had said about the tabernacle. The tabernacle is actually Christ in shadows and symbols. Jesus is the manna, the Ark of the Covenant, the table for the Showbread, the bronze altar with all the mysteries of His redemption, the gold altar of incense with all the mysteries of His prayers and intercessions. In the New Testament, after these shadows and symbols were revealed, Christ became the Head of the Church[14] and the constant food that nourishes the Church.

The epistles talk about the Church of Christ. He is her Head and the author and finisher of her faith (Hebrews 12: 2); He goes before the Church in her sojourning in the world until she completes her role and mission on earth. Then, when He comes again, He will be her proclaimed and revealed Bridegroom and she will be His glorified Bride. This will be the marriage supper of the Lamb[15].

Jesus will be the proclaimed King on earth and the full power of His redemption and glory will be revealed. He will present us to the Father as His bride who is united with Him, of His flesh and of His bones, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5: 27, 30); holy like Him because He is holy.

At this point, God becomes all in all and the story ends as it had started, exactly as God was revealed as all in all. His Trinity was revealed to us; His plans were revealed; but when the enemy interfered through the fall, Redemption was then manifested. God’s plans and purposes will be carried out and completed and the Kingdom of God will be proclaimed. In this Kingdom, the bride, who is united with the Bridegroom, is revealed and presented to the Father so that God may be all in all, as Apostle Paul explains in 1Corintians 15: 28 –Christ being united to His Church and presenting her to the Father is different from Christ being united to the Father because He is One with the Father and equal with Him in essence.

This was a brief overview about Christ in the books of the Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation.

When we understand Christ as such and seek Him, we will find Him. He will not be found if I am not ready to receive Him as the mystery of life. In Colossians 2: 2, we read that He is the mystery of the Father. He is the mystery of life that fills the heart and revives us. The whole life becomes His because He bought us with His blood. Life would become meaningful when we follow Him and enter into fellowship with Him. He is the Head and the author and finisher of our salvation.

The Person & the Work of Christ:

Finally, I want to highlight that in reading the New Testament, we need to pay attention to two things: the Person of Christ and the work of Christ.

The New Testament presents the Person and Character of Christ in various ways; so that we may follow in His footsteps, He becomes our example and the living image into which we should be transformed: ‘to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren’ (Romans 8: 29).

In the meantime, the New Testament tells us about His work, the work of His redemption because the more this work of redemption enters to our inner man, the more it enables us to be transformed into this image and to follow Him.

The gospels speak about the Person of Christ while the epistles talk about the work of Christ.

The gospels portray to us the Person, the Character of the Son, from various angles; so that, we may absorb this image inside us. He is the reason of our life and our redemption. We are a fallen humanity and our only hope is in Christ, the hope of Glory (Colossians 1: 27). Through him we know our heavenly Father and experience the company of the Holy Spirit. He is the beginning and the end: ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End’ (Revelation 1: 8).

Christ alone gives us life and makes us the children of God, our Father. He grants that the Holy Spirit would be our companion and Comforter who dwells in us.

Therefore, the four gospels present to us Christ from various angles, outline His footsteps and show us how He lived His days on earth. We should read this, meditate on it, absorb it, eat it and drink it, talk of it when we lie down and when we rise up (Deuteronomy 6: 7). Then, the Holy Spirit would gradually open our minds and understanding to the Person of Christ. The more the eyes of our minds are opened to His Person, the more we can be transformed and understand everything.

Jesus is the key and door to understanding the Father and enjoying His fellowship. Similarly, we can only enjoy the fellowship of the Holy Spirit through Christ who has redeemed us. The manifestation of the redemptive work of Christ in us allows the coming of the Holy Spirit to us and His dwelling in us. In the Old Testament, we see that the oil was poured after shedding the blood of the sacrifices. Therefore, after the Crucifixion and Christ saying ‘it is finished’, the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost. We can only have the right to the fellowship with the Holy Spirit through Christ and the work of His redemption. We can only have the right to the fellowship with the Father through Christ and the adoption granted to us by Him. Therefore, Christ is the door; He is the beginning and the end; He is all in all.

We need to read the gospels in a different way. We should not think of them as stories that we have read so many times and that we already know where there is nothing new, just miracles and parables. In fact they are not as such; they convey to us a living divine and human example who has entered into our fallen world to light it and to give life to the dead. In the gospels we see a divine incarnated Person walking in our world. He emptied Himself and took our human form; and so, we can look at Him and see how we can be when we are freed from the fall, knowing that He is the One who gives us this ability. We need to see how His day went, how any work He did looked like, and what His conduct was like. He is the Person whom we desire to gaze upon and meditate on as we read the chapters; and go on our knees asking Him to pour in our lives the mystery of His life so that we can live on earth in the same way He lived because we are children of God; Christ is the One who granted us this gift. We should do on earth as the Son did so that the Father may be pleased with us and so that we may proclaim His will that it would be on earth as it is in heaven. This is how we should read the four gospels.

Each time we read, we need to pray asking Him to help us see Him in order to walk as He walked[16] because we are called for this and He desires to grant us the ability. In Christ, we see how the complete humanity walks on earth fulfilling the will of the Father. We can then do the same. Our humanity will not be perfect like His, but, it will be redeemed through His redemption. We will then be able to do as He did, not out of our own ability as He did, but through the strengthening of His grace and the work of His Spirit in us.

The book of Acts tells us how the Church was established and how she lived, so that we can live in the same way. The Church was established in Act 2, then in the chapters that follow, we see how the Church moved, ministered, was persecuted, suffered, overcame Satan, and spread light and life on earth.

The epistles tell us about the work of Christ, His redemption.

The gospels reflect the life of Christ, His Person, and the epistles speak about His redemptive work.

In between them is the book of Acts which is about the Church that is established by the redemption. She then proclaims this redemption. The Church is responsible to tell people that they are not born to eat and drink but to do the will of God. The Church is Christ on earth. She is His body. She should do what He likes to do. The Church should tell the humanity which is living in darkness, sin and death: ‘arise, shine; there is life and light’. This is the message of the Church. She should carry out this message not by mottos nor by fighting; but by a holy life full of humility and ready to sacrifice to the point of death for the sake of others. ‘And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death’ (Revelation 12: 11).

If we desire that the mystery of Christ would reach the people, we have no other way apart from the way He walked; as He died, we should be ready to die. We can die through pain, love, humility, humbleness, and even blood shed if necessary. In this way, we would be the Church of Christ that can change the face of the earth.

In the epistles, we read about the work of redemption and how the Church can live as described above through the work of redemption. Redemption changes each person; and then brings these people together, unites them and makes them a true body united with the Head. This would be ‘a perfect man’ (Ephesians 4: 13). This perfect man can walk on earth as if he is Christ on earth.

Our problem is that we are a Church that is not united with our Head. We should be members who are united together in order to be a body because the body is what can be united with the Head. In order for us to be united members, each member should be experiencing the work of redemption. The Holy Spirit would then be able to connect these members together. The Holy Spirit connects the redeemed members, making them a body ready to be united with the Head. Life would then flow abundantly. ‘It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments’ (Psalm 133: 2). These garments extend to the world to proclaim to it the message of Christ.

Therefore, when we read the epistles we need to look for the work of Christ, the work of the Cross, the work of the blood of Jesus, the work of the resurrection of Christ, the work of the ascension of Christ, the work of the Holy Spirit that He poured in us, the work of redemption; and we need to see how to benefit from this great divine work.

We read the gospels focusing on the Person of Christ desiring to see Him. Similarly, when we read the epistles we focus on what He has done for us and how to benefit from it in order to be redeemed humans, redeemed members in the body that the Holy Spirit can unite together forming a living body that is connected to the Head.

This perfect man, the Church, would be Christ on earth fulfilling all what Christ desires; and exactly as He has done in the body of His flesh, He can do through us. He came to redeem us and His Church should be the One to proclaim this redemption so that redemption may be manifested in every person everywhere; so that, the earth would be a Kingdom and the King would come. This would be the Kingdom of God in our midst: ‘Your Kingdom come’ (Matthew 6: 10).

[1] Colossians 2:2

[2] John.1:18

[3] Romans 16:25, 26

[4] Ephesians 1:7

[5] Colossians 1:16

[6] 1Corinthians 1:30

[7] 1Corinthians 1:24

[8] Psalm 103:4

[9] 1Samuel 2:10

[10] Luke 1:46 – 55

[11] John 6:55 – 58

[12] Haggai 2:7

[13] John 1:1 – 5

[14] Colossians 2:19

[15] Revelation 19:7

[16] 1John 2:6

Sister Organizations

Agape International / Shine UK
St. John the Baptist Orthodox Brotherhood
Holy Virgin Mary and St. Macarius Orthodox Sisterhood