Sunday, October 19, 2014

Towards a spiritual understanding of civil war, strife, political unrest, and political opinions. Part 1

How does the current civil war in the area of the world known as Ukraine relate to Russian patriotism and anti-communism? How does it relate to the battle between good and evil, between God and Satan? This question is troubling many in the Russian Church Abroad.
The answer is not simple, and many have attempted to state it. Ultimately, the answer must be spiritual, not tainted by sin or earthly passion.

And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet
Matthew 24:6

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The battle between good and evil

1.There exists a struggle between good and evil. That is, between God and the evil one. This struggle began before the creation of man, with the fall of Lucifer. It continued by implicating man – first of all, Eve, Adam, and later, every one of their descendants.

2.All current and past political conflicts are very much part of this battle.

3.The devil is a bodiless being that has not died (although as a spirit, he is not by nature immortal). His nature is such that he has gained immense experience in how to deceive humans.
Due to demonic influence, our human reasoning is usually tainted by evil to some degree. This applies to all forms of conflict, and most especially, to war.

4. Most people are implicated in evil unconsciously. However, some people choose to serve evil consciously. Such are magicians, sorcerers, fortune-tellers, Satanists, masons, members of other secret societies that serve evil. It is important to understand that such secret societies with truly evil agendas have great power in the modern world (as they have had for hundreds of years). This power may be hidden to many simple people. Both spirits and men who serve evil usually strive to hide this service, so that their victims – those who wish to serve good (Christians) – would be deceived into serving evil.

5.Christians must always strive to be in God, with God, and for God – for good. But how do we know what is good?

6.The world is not simple. Spiritual reality is very much a part of the “real world”, to such an extent that evil spiritual deception clouds our understanding in most, if not all areas of life.

And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:
Luke 22:31

7. The Gospel and the Tradition of the Church can tell us what is good. For man, it is good to prepare his soul for Heaven, through good works (as defined in the Gospels) and repentance for evil deeds, thoughts, and feelings.

8. Alas, the individual Christian is subject to deception even in how he reads and understands Scripture! Evil never stops influencing us, never abandons its aim of separating us from God, and separating us from our brothers. As the saying goes: “The devil does not sleep”. This is how we know what side we are on:

In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.
1 John 3:10

Earthly government

9. Earthly movements (such as political movements) are never fully good – they are of this world, and this world lies in evil (1 John 5:19) This world is becoming more and more evil, as we near the end of time.

10. The closest an earthly government can be to fulfilling God’s will, is the case of an Orthodox Kingdom, with a pious Tsar or King crowned by the Church by the will of God. This is the teaching of the Orthodox Church. However, we have not had this organisation of government for a long time… The Byzantine and Russian Empires are well-known examples of Orthodox Kingdoms.

11. From history, we know that not even all crowned Tsars were “good”. The crowned Tsars are attacked very much by the evil one, and many of them succumbed to evil to some degree. The devil always conducts intense warfare against those in high places and in power

12. The Holy Church commanded Her children to pray for the Tsar, not only in the ektenias, but also in many troparions and canons, most notably the tropar to the Holy Cross:

Save, O Lord, They people, and bless Thine inheritance. Grant victory unto our pious Ruler, _____(name), over all adversaries. And by the power of Thy Cross, preserve Thou Thy commonwealth
Troparion to the Holy Cross

Unfortunately, after the February revolution of 1917, the Holy Synod agreed to change these texts, replacing the “Pious Ruler” with “Orthodox Christians. St John of Shanghai and San Francisco opposed this innovation, because the texts acquire a subtle difference in meaning, which again leads to people thinking differently regarding authority, about good and evil.

What inspires our political ideas?

13. Today, many Orthodox Christians are being deceived by the evil one into thinking that one or the other world power, or government, is ultimately on “the side of good” against evil. This stance is unfortunate for Christians. If Orthodox Tsars fell, then how much more vulnerable are modern atheist politicians to succumb to evil?

14. Many consider it important to write about their opinions. The enemy persuades people that they understand what is happening, that they have the “correct information” from the most “reputable sources”. Alas! The Christian does not realize that the evil one is playing with him, working him up over things of this world.

The nets for my mind are set out in various books calling themselves light, but containing teachings of darkness, written under the open or hidden influence of dark and evil world ruler…as the Apostle expresses it: “vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind” (Col 2:18)….
St Ignaty Brianchaninov, Vol1 1, Nets of the world ruler

15. Some Christians, of various convictions, would even force their political opinion on the Church. They demand statements from the Church in favour of one or the other side of conflict, of a government or ruler. In this case, the Christian has unconsciously made his political view an idol, which he wishes the Church would also serve.

Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.
1 John 5:21

16. Political and worldly opinions are not forbidden for a Christian – however, he is obligated to understand that the Law of God, love for every brother (regardless of this brother’s opinions), and obedience to the Church come before any political opinions.

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
John 3:19

17. The Evil One has always been at work to deceive the people of God. Even more so in the last times. Christians have always been of the opinion that it is the last times, and that a great struggle is occurring between God and Satan.

Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.
1 John 2:18

18. The Church teaches that the world most definitely will end – when, we know not and cannot know. However, the closer we come to the end of the world, the more evil the world will become, and the less will worldly movements have fellowship with God.

And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog, and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
Revelation 20:7-8

In the end times, Satan controls all nations – he is the one who guides all sides of any conflict. Taking sides becomes senseless.

The Christian’s struggle against political temptation

19. The Christian’s aim is to abide with God forever. Our exit from the world may be through death, or through the end of the world – in either case, we will have to personally answer for our deeds, as judged by the Gospel.

(Christ) gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
Galatians 1:4

20. Christ commands us to pray:

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil
Matthew 6:13

The Holy Church commands us to repeat this prayer numerous times every day. The Holy Church teaches this because She knows that temptation and the devil are very real forces influencing every person, every group of people, every parish, every city, nation, and country.

21. Therefore, every Christian must understand that he is subject to temptation. If a Christian believes his political view of the world is without sin, and that only others are deceived in their political views, this very fact is proof of his own deception.
Spiritual deception is a multifaceted and more complex than the simple form of misinformation, or dishonesty of biased journalists.

Pray that ye enter not into temptation.
Luke 22:40

22. If we fall prey to the evil one’s schemes, be it on the fleshly, psychological, social, or political level, we are in the process of falling away from God, even if we at first accepted Him and were baptised. Those who fall away from God, if they do not repent, will be condemned…Let us not be as these ones, who do not see temptation, and when they happen to fall into it, pridefully refuse to repent!

…..“And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.
Mark 4:17

23. Only at the Great Judgment will it be clear who remained faithful to God, and who did not. It is not for us, blind and deceived sinners, to define which ones of our brothers is a sinner and deceived.

So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just
Matthew 13:49

Part 1 of 3. To be continued

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