Galatians 5:22-26; 6:1-2 > But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Luke 6:17-23 > And He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases, as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed. And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all. Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples and said:
Blessed are you poor,
For yours is the kingdom of God
Blessed are you who hunger now,
For you shall be filled.
Blessed are you who weep now,
For you shall laugh.
Blessed are you when men hate you,
And when they exclude you,
And revile you, and cast out your
Name as evil.
For the Son of Man’s sake.
Rejoice in that day and leap for joy!
For indeed your reward is great in heaven,
For in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.
Today’s readings, Galatians 5:22 – 6:2 and Luke 6:17 – 23, are simply awesome in their power to illuminate our understanding concerning our struggle with the passions and our victorious transformation of them through a life in the Spirit; and how Jesus wants to heal us of our spiritual sicknesses, those very passions, addictions, and crippling infirmities, that imprison us. By walking in the Spirit we crucify the passions and evil desires, and they are transformed by the life of the Spirit into the fruit of the Spirit in all goodness and righteousness and truth (Ephesians 5:9). The healing ministry of Jesus* is a pictograph revealing to us a parallel between the sicknesses and physical maladies that Jesus healed, and the spiritual sicknesses, that is our passions in us, that are in need of healing. The sicknesses and demonic vexations that Jesus healed are metaphors for the healing of our passions, evil desires, and addictions. Have you ever noticed how we can be blind, in the dark because our spiritual eyes have cataracts or worse? Have you noticed how we can be deaf, our ears can’t hear the voice of God because of damaged eardrums from listening to the demonic frequencies of the world’s lies? Have you ever noticed how we want to do good, but our will is weak, crippled, like a withered hand? Have you ever noticed how we seem to be controlled by unseen forces? Have you ever noticed how we can be thrown into a fit of rage like someone with epilepsy? Have you ever noticed how we sense the wounds in our soul are bleeding, our life’s energy is seeping out of us? Have you ever felt paralyzed, unable to move because of bitterness or shame? Have you ever felt dead inside, lifeless, unfeeling, uncaring, unable to muster compassion; you are like a dead man walking? Jesus will heal you of all these spiritual diseases and conditions if you will cooperate with Him. As we become doers of Christ’s words we enter into communion with the Holy Trinity (John 14:15-26) resulting in our sanctification and deification. We are healed, that is, saved from our sins as we become partakers of God’s divine nature (2 Peter 1:2-4).
Four Truths To Live By
Truth #1) We must admit that we are spiritually sick with our many sins. Our sinful nature, that which we inherited from Adam (Romans 5:12, 19), and what Paul calls, “the old man” (Romans 6:6; Ephesians 4:23, 24; Colossians 3:9, 10), are spoken of here as our flesh, with its passions and lusts. “By the flesh, Paul does not mean the body. The flesh here is a general term for evil actions, the depraved will, the earthly mind, the slothful and careless soul…” (Orthodox Study Bible Pg. 1595) What are the passions and lusts? Some are listed for us in the three verses just before we read about the fruit of the Spirit, read Galatians 5:19-21. St Paul describes them this way, “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” (Romans 7:22) St Gregory of Nyssa describes the passions as qualities we inherit from our animal nature: “The animals came into the world before we did and we have inherited some of their qualities. This is the spring from which our emotions are derived. Those qualities which secure self-preservation in animals have been transferred into human life and become passions…Human nature…has a double likeness. In the drive of the passions it reproduces the signs of the animal creation, but in the soul it has the features of the divine beauty.”
Truth #2) We must know that Jesus desires for us to be healed of all our sins and infirmities, our passions and lusts, our sickness and brokenness. (Luke 4:16-19) In Acts 10:38 we read a description of Jesus’ healing ministry, “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” And it is written, “When evening was come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet Isaiah, saying: ‘He Himself took our infirmities, and bore our sicknesses.” (Matthew 8:16, 17) This, of course, is a quote from the great Messianic prophecy of Isaiah 53, where the Messiah is portrayed as the “suffering servant” who suffered and died for our sins. Notice here the language of Isaiah defines our sins as sicknesses for which Christ suffered and died that we may be healed (saved from our sins), “He bares our sins and suffers for us, yet we considered Him to be in pain, suffering, and ill-treatment. But He was wounded because of our lawlessness, and became sick because of our sins. The chastisement of our sins was upon Him, and by His bruise are we healed. All we like sheep have gone astray. Man has gone astray in his way, and the Lord delivered Him over for our sins.” (Isaiah 53:4-6 OSB) St Peter’s inspired commentary reads, “Who Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness – by whose stripes you were healed.” As we are healed by our cooperation with Jesus, that is, through our faith and obedience, we become dead to sins that once dominated us, and we are free to live for righteousness.
Truth #3) We must arm ourselves with all “the weapons of our warfare” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5), and through faith and obedience, cooperate with the divine grace that abides in all these God-given weapons, so that we may gain the victory in the unseen war. The Fathers of the Philokalia offer the following weapons with which to fight the passions: 1) Prayer, especially the Jesus Prayer; 2) The remembrance of the Name of Jesus; 3) The remembrance of the Lord’s Passion; 4) The remembrance of death. “He who has acquired the remembrance of death will never be able to sin.”; 5) The remembrance of the Last Judgment, especially eternal suffering; 6) Nepsis, watchfulness, vigilance; 7) By not feeding the passions, thus, starving them; 8) By waging war against them through ascesis; 9) By putting on the armor of God through the reading of God’s word and the writings of the Church Fathers; 10) Through the sacraments, especially Confession and the Eucharist. (Philokalia by Anthony Coniaris pg. 147) A beautiful thought from the “Philokalia”, “If you wish, you can be a slave to passions, and if you wish, you can remain free and not submit to their yoke; for God has created you with that power. A man who overcomes passions of the flesh is crowned with incorruptibility. If there were no passions there would be no virtues, and no crowns given by God to those who are worthy.” (Breaking the Chains of Addiction by Victor Mihailoff pg. 17) Synergy (working together with God), must become our path to victory over the flesh. It is through faith and obedience that we are empowered by divine grace to crucify the flesh with its passions and desires.
Truth #4) Christians who become spiritual, who have overcome the passions, are to restore the brothers and sisters who fall into trespasses. As we are healed, become spiritual (Galatians. 6:1), we are to become healing agents, restoring one another in the Faith. For it is written, “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed…Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” (James 5:16, 19) And thus “fulfills the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)
QUESTIONS TO PONDER
1) In light of these scriptures, which passions would be on your list for an honest and thorough confession? Consider the lists in Galatians 5:19-21 and Ephesians 4:29 – 5:4.
2) List as many of Jesus’ healings and miracles, recorded in the Gospels, as you can recall, and how each one would parallel a spiritual healing in your life.
3) Of the ten weapons recommended by the Church Fathers to defeat the passions, which ones do you practice daily? What can you do to incorporate the ten weapons into your daily thoughts?
4) When you attempt to help a fallen brother/sister, do you examine yourself first? (Matthew 7:1-5) What does a “spirit of gentleness” look like? (Ephesians 4:31, 32)
Verse-By-Verse Commentary On Galatians 5:22 – 6:2
Verses 22, 23 > The fruit of the Holy Spirit grows upon the tree of our life as we are rooted in the gospel teachings, and obey the commands of Jesus. These fruits, nine of which are listed here, are the very energies of the divine nature that we express against the works of the flesh (the passions and evil desires). As we live in the Spirit, and walk in the Spirit, we yield our lives to the Holy Spirit, through our obedience to the commands of Jesus, that same Spirit transforms our passions into the fruit of the Spirit. We begin to produce beautiful fruit that glorifies the Father in heaven (John 15:1-8). Verse 24 > Those who are Christ’s are actively crucifying the flesh, that is, the passions and evil desires. St John Chrysostom writes, “For the desires, although they are troublesome, rage in vain.” Verse 25 > We are to live by the Spirit, that is, by the laws of the Spirit, and the power that that those laws supply. (Romans 8:1-3) The life that the Spirit gives us is actualized as we “walk in the Spirit”, that is, become doers of the word, and obedient to Christ’s commands. Verse 26 > The temptation we often face in the Spiritual life is to “compare ourselves with one another”, thus leading some of us to become conceited (thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought – Romans 12:3), and others to become envious (coveting another’s gifts and calling). This is all vainglorious, and to be crucified. Let all of us who strive for the mastery in spiritual things (1 Corinthians 9:24-27 KJV) be temperate (self-controlled) in all things. Verse 1 > St Paul instructs the spiritual brethren on how they are to relate to those who are overtaken in any trespass, that is, carried away with a passion that has not yet been crucified. Paul says, “you which are spiritual “restore such a one”, He says not, “chastise” nor “judge,” but “set aright.” (St John Chrysostom Homilies) Chrysostom continues, “…be very gentle to those who have lost their footing…administer correction with mildness.” St Paul warns that those who are administering correction take heed to their own weaknesses lest they be tempted and end up in very same state as the weaker brother whom they are restoring. Verse 2 > Since we all have shortcomings, Paul “exhorts them not to scrutinize severely the offences of others, but even to bear their failings, that their own may in turn be borne by others.” (St John Chrysostom) In this way we fulfill the law of Christ!
Verse-By-Verse Commentary On Luke 6:17 – 23
Verse 17, 18 > Jesus is revealed as our healer. He healed diseases and delivered people from unclean spirits. Christ’s healing ministry is a picture of what He accomplished for us through His passion, that is, his suffering and crucifixion. The diseases and torments healed by Christ parallel the healing of our spiritual sicknesses and psychic torments (our passions and evil desires). “Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness – by whose stripes you were healed.” (1 Peter 2:24) It is when we are healed of our spiritual sicknesses, that is our sins, we are then able to live righteously. And “When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: ‘He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses’” (Matthew 8:16-18; Isaiah 53:4). Verse 19 > Through physical contact with Jesus the people were healed, because healing power went out from Him. To come in contact with Jesus was to come in contact with healing power (Acts 10:38). Remember the “woman (who) had a flow of blood twelve years, and suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. For she said, ‘If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.’ Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction. And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched My clothes’…And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction’.” (Mark 5:25-34) When we come into contact with Jesus, His power flows into us according to our faith. (Matthew 9:29) What are some ways we contact Jesus? First, through His Word; secondly, through prayer; and thirdly, through Holy Communion and the sacramental power of the Holy Spirit. Verse 20 > Jesus shifts His attention from the crowd unto His disciples and begins to unveil the blessedness of those who follow His commands (known elsewhere as the Beatitudes, Matthew 5:1-12). Blessed are the poor (in spirit). As we willingly become poor as Jesus did (2 Corinthians 8:9), assume the heart of the poor, becoming totally dependent upon God, we are given the spiritual riches of the kingdom of heaven (Ephesians 1:3; Colossians 1:12-14). Verse 21 > Blessed are you who hunger, you who fast the things of this world, who deny themselves earthly pleasures, you will be filled with God’s Spirit. Blessed are you who weep, who shed tears of repentance. “St Theodore the Studite invites us to “go in the Spirit to the Jordan…and let us receive the baptism with Him, I mean the baptism of tears.” “The fruits of the inner man begin with the shedding of tears,” wrote St Isaac of Syria. “The fire of sin is intense,” wrote St John Chrysostom, “but it is put out by a small amount of tears, for the tear puts out a furnace of faults, and cleanse our soul of sin.” (Philokalia pg.174, by Anthony Coniaris) Your mourning shall turn to joy in the kingdom. Verse 22, 23 > Blessed are you when you are hated, and reviled, and called evil for Christ’s sake. Rejoice at the onset of persecutions, even leap for joy, for you are counted worthy to suffer shame for His Name. (Acts 5:41)
Our Blindness Matthew 9:27-31; Matthew 20:29-34; Mark 8:22-26; John 9:1-38.
Our Deafness Mark 7:31-37
Our Dumbness Matthew 9:32-34
Our Deafness and Blindness Caused by Demons Mark 9:14-27
Our Paralysis Matthew 9:1-7; Luke 5:17-26; Mark 2:1-14
Our Palsy Matthew 8:5-13
Our Epilepsy Matthew 15:21-28
Our Dropsy Luke 14:1-6
Our Weak Limbs Matthew 12:9-14; Mark 3:1-6
Our Internal Bleeding Mark 5:25-34; Matthew 9:20-22
Our Fever Matthew 8:14,15
Our Demons Mark 1:23-28; Luke 4:31-37; Matthew 8:28-34; Luke 8:26-39
Our Leprosy Matthew 8:1-4; Mark 1:40-45; Luke 5:12-16; Luke 17:11-19
Our Disfigurement Luke 13:10-17
Our Deadness Matthew 9:18-26; Luke 7:11-17; John 11
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