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May 25, 2016 + "Condemned" to Be Immortal: Part 3

by St. Justin Popovich
(...continued from Part 2)

By conquering the sin within him through Christ, a man conquers death. If a single day passes and you have not yet conquered at least one of your sins, realize that you have become all the more mortal. If, however, you have overcome one, two, or three of your sins, you have become more greatly renewed in that newness that does not age: immortality and eternity. Let us never forget that, for one to believe in Christ, this means that he must struggle ceaselessly against sin, evil, and death.

A man demonstrates that he truly believes in the Resurrected Lord by his struggle against the passions and against sin; and if he so struggles, he must know that he struggles for immortality and for eternal life. If he does not struggle, then his faith is in vain. For, if a man's faith is not a struggle for immortality and eternity, then what is it? If by faith in Christ one does not attain to immortality and victory over death, then to what end our faith? If Christ is not resurrected, this means that sin and death have not been conquered. And if these two things have not been overcome, then why should anyone believe in Christ? He who, through faith in the Resurrection of Christ, struggles against his every sin, however, has profound reinforcement within himself of a sense that Christ is in fact resurrected, that He has in fact removed the sting of death, that He has in fact conquered death on all fronts of battle.

Sin deeply scars man, draws him near to death, and transforms him from something immortal to something mortal, from something incorruptible and unbounded into something corruptible and limited. The more sins a person has, the more mortal he becomes. And if a man does not feel himself immortal, it is obvious that he is wholly mired in sin, in short-sighted thought, and in dead feelings. Christianity is a call to a struggle to the last breath against death, until, that is, the final victory over death. Every sin is a falling-away, every passion a betrayal, every evil deed a defeat.

No one should ask why it is that the Christian succumbs to bodily death. This comes about because the death of the body is a kind of sowing. The mortal body is sown, St. Paul tells us (see I Corinthians 15:42ff), and is raised in power, becoming immortal. Like the seed that is sown, so too the body dissolves, that the Holy Spirit might give it life and perfect it. If the Lord had not resurrected in the body, what benefit would we have taken in this from Him? He would not have saved the whole man. Had He not resurrected the body, then why was He made flesh? Why did He take upon Himself a body, were it not to give to it of His Divinity?

If Christ did not resurrect, why should anyone then believe in Him? I confess sincerely that I would never have believed in Christ, had He not resurrected, had He not conquered death, our greatest enemy. But Christ was resurrected, and He gave to us immortality. Without this truth, our world is nothing but a chaotic display of odious stupidities. Only with His glorious Resurrection does our wondrous Lord and God free us from despair and senselessness. For without the Resurrection, there is nothing more senseless in the heavens or under the heavens than the present world; nor is there greater despair than this life without immortality. For this reason, in all the world there is no more misfortunate a being than a man who does not believe in the Resurrection of Christ and the resurrection of the dead (see Corinthians 15:19). "Better for that man if he had not been born" (St. Matthew 26:24).

Translated from the Greek by Archbishop Chrysostomos of Etna. From a series of theological essays, Anthropos kai Theanthropos (Athens, 1970). The Greek text is a translation of the Serbian original. Translation appeared in Orthodox Tradition, Vol. 4, No. 2 (1987), pp. 38-42. Accessed at http://orthodoxinfo.com/death/condemned.aspx.

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Midfeast of Pentecost

Troparion, Tone 8

In the middle of the Feast, O Savior, fill my thirsting soul with the waters of godliness, as You did cry to all: If anyone thirst let him come to me and drink! O Christ God, Fountain of our life, glory to You!

Kontakion, Tone 4

Christ God, the Creator and Master of all cried to all in the midst of the Feast of the law: Come and draw the water of immortality! We fall before You and faithfully cry: Grant us Your bounties, for You are the Fountain of our life!


Readings and Inspiration from the Diocese of Charleston Homepage

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