(Eph. 5: 9–19)
“Finding out what is acceptable to the Lord” (Eph. 5:10) says the holy Apostle Paul in his epistle to the Ephesians. Of the Christians in Rome, he asks, “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Rom. 12:2-3).
Let us concentrate on these words: the good, acceptable and perfect will of God. We see around us many who have wandered away from the path of knowing the good, acceptable and perfect will of God and have become lost in the dark and endless labyrinths of evil, all in the belief that learning about evil and fighting against it will take them to the knowledge of good and, ultimately, to God. This is a futile business, an insane and exhausting race in the opposite direction to the Path.
If you have ever met any of these poor lost souls, they will have told you in great detail about the books they have acquired through special, secret channels and about the mysteries and conspiracies they have uncovered, etc. They usually give you a recommended list of books to read and films to watch, etc. Half an hour with this poor man and you wonder whether you should be breathing the air around you, drinking the water or even eating anything, because everything has been “poisoned” and desecrated by microchip technology. In fact, you may wonder whether it is safe to walk on the street, since “their” cameras are everywhere and “they” are following you all the time.
I admit that once I gave in to my curiosity and read one of these books. I read it through to the end without putting it down and I learned (if all this is true) who really stands behind the global industry of narcotics, who is struggling to take control over my freedom and my soul and whose aim it is to poison the souls of my children with rock music. While I was reading this book, and long after I had finished it, I lost my inner peace and what is worse, I was in grave danger of forever losing that tiny bit of faith in me, smaller even than a mustard seed. If the evil and deceptive Lucifer is so powerful, if he is progressively taking over the world through his servants and agents, then what is left for my Lord and Savior?
I found myself standing before a cunningly laid trap: the challenge to venture further into the depths and abysses of darkness, right into the kingdom of the Evil One. The book was full of footnotes and references to other sources which the author used to write his story.
I threw the book away and made a firm decision not to undertake the study of evil again. My life is too short and too valuable for me to waste it on evil or the Evil One. In moments of hesitation, no matter how brief, the words of our beloved Apostle helped me a great deal: find out what is the good, acceptable and perfect will of God.
If it helped me, it should also help you, dear friends, in times of doubt, hesitation and trouble. For dwelling on evil and the Evil One makes a person gradually become just that – evil. “Stay away from evil and do good” (Ps. 33:15). Our holy Bishop Nikolai says: “What does the Lord require of us, brethren? Just as the altars of our churches are always turned towards the east, so should our souls always be turned towards good. He wants us to leave evil behind, in the shadows, in the abyss of oblivion, in the darkness of the past, and to lean towards good from day to day, from year to year. He wants us to think about good, to long for good, to speak of good and to do good. The Lord wants builders, not destroyers. He who builds good, destroys evil. But he who makes the destruction of evil his occupation, quickly forgets to build good and becomes evil himself.”
The devil is indescribably cunning. Since the world began, he has been perfecting his cunningness and increasing it. The ways by which he lures people into his net are innumerable. Our forefathers Adam and Eve were the first to stumble into his trap of pride and knowledge of the unknown. The devil uses the same trap today to lure us into acquiring a secret knowledge of things which, purportedly, was not given to others. In other words, he wants to preoccupy our minds with himself. That is why Apostle Paul tells us not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to, but to think soberly “as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith” (Rom: 2:3).
The Lord does not want us to waste the time we have been given to work on our salvation, nor to waste our energy on all kinds of unprofitable things. Since we have already agreed to follow Him, we must not look back. “No one, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Lk. 9:62) are Christ’s very words. Likewise, Apostle Paul advises his young disciple Timothy to avoid foolish and ignorant disputes “knowing that they generate strife” (2 Tim. 2:23).
Each one of us is curious to know “what will happen tomorrow.” If the power of the Evil One is so increasing so rapidly, what will happen to us and to our children, and what terrible fate awaits the children of our children? Behind all these “foolish and ignorant disputes,” as the Apostle puts it, lies our lack of faith and our faintheartedness and, most of all, our pride which incites us to seek and provide answers to these questions alone, without the help of God, and to attempt to solve all the problems of this world single handedly – again without the help of God. “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him” (Ps. 37:7) says the wise prophet David. “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about it’s own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble”, (Mt. 6:34) says the Lord.
Our Lord has given us the answers to all the major question concerning heaven and earth and He has permitted us to know as much as is truly profitable for us. He has forewarned us of the terrible times that will come upon us and of the dreadful power He has permitted to the “rulers of the darkness of this age” (Eph. 6:12). Before the “times of refreshing” come, and before the second coming of Jesus Christ, “who has been preached to us before,” (Acts 3:19-20) there will be terrible persecutions, as is described in chapter 24 of the Gospel according to Matthew.
“I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil” (Rom. 16:19), says the holy Apostle Paul. Stay away from the turbid and dangerous river of evil, let it roar and run its course; let the Lord and His will be the subject of your thoughts, as well as your own salvation.” Always bear in mind the words of holy apostle Peter: “For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men – as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God” (1 Pet. 2:15-16).
“Have faith in God” (Mk. 11:22), and may the God of peace “make you complete in every good work to do his will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen” (Heb. 13:21).