Sermon of bishop Justin Polianskiy for the Week 27th after Pentecost (Eph 6,10:17)

Life is a struggle, a tireless, continuous and intense struggle.  Man has to strive with much effort to receive anything from this world, whether material or spiritual.  Much struggle is needed in order to have a plentiful subsidence and sustenance; even more struggle is needed to form one's soul for an everlasting and blissful life-to-be.  To achieve that, man needs to wrestle with his own passions and sins; has to spiritually wrestle with “the whole world” around him that “lieth in wickedness” [1 John 5]; as well as with the ultimate enemy and his indomitable anger.  Whosoever chooses not to wrestle, surrenders himself to the enemy only to perish, and those who chose to fight have no other option but to equip themselves with a reliable armament.  For this reason in today’s reading at the Liturgy, the Holy Apostle outfits the warrior of Christ with the full armour of God: “Put on”, he says, “the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph 6:11).

First of all, Apostle says: “Stand therefore having your loins girt about with truth” (Eph 6:14).  That is to say: learn and love the truth, and do everything with honesty.  Move away from all lies, deceit, and all kinds of delusions.  In all things, act according to truth and justice, and in this way attain righteousness, which will serve as the most reliable protection from enemy’s attacks. Therefore, Apostle says: “… having on the breastplate of righteousness” (Eph 6:14), which also means: while learning the truth and acting according to the law of truth and justice and thus living a virtuous life, affirm yourself upon a steadfast and unshakable foundation – on the Gospel doctrine, which is the most firm foundation.  It is the stone of our Belief, which also guides us to the correct path to true Peace and rest in God.  A person standing on this stone is invulnerable to the arrows of the enemy.

After this the Holy Apostle Paul commands to the warrior of Christ to shod his feet “with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (Eph 6:15).  It means: be meek, live with everyone in peace and harmony, do not offend anyone.  It is better to tolerate your enemy and not to harm him, and thus lessen his attacks.

 “Above all” take “the shield of faith”, the Apostle continues, “wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” [Ephesians 6:16].  That is to say: you have to be courageous and firm in Faith (1 Cor 16.13), in your devotion to God, in your hope in God and in the confession of the teaching offered to us by the Holy Church.  In this way, the power of Faith will preserve and shield us from the trickery of the enemy.

Then, “take the helmet of salvation” (Ephesians 6:17) — nourish the hope of salvation; for Jesus Christ suffered and died for all people, and wants all people “to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4); and this way your soul will be invulnerable from the snares of the vicious enemy when striving towards the goods of heaven.

Finally, take “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17).  Which means: read and listen to the word of God with reverent attention, keep it in your memory, and use it to repel any tempting thoughts of doubt and lack of faith, all tempting dreams, all evil desires and intentions.  Let the word of God be for you a guiding light in all of your private and public affairs, so that you can always see the path of truth, and always follow the path of salvation, avoiding any crossroads leading to destruction.

However remember, beloved, about your weakness, when trying with all your might to keep on the path of salvation.  Remember, you cannot do anything truly good without the help of God when left to yourself.  Therefore, humbly and reverently, always pray to the Lord God and diligently ask Him that He Himself, the All-good, — by the power of His Holy Spirit — will help you, guide and strengthen you on the path of salvation, protect you from the schemes of the enemies, bestow upon you His full spiritual armour, so that you may defeat the enemy, and, with your soul and body, always glorify His all-holy name — the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages.  Amen.


Year of original publication: 1897