"See that Ye Walk Circumspectly"
"See that Ye Walk Circumspectly"
by Archbishop Averky (Taushev)
In more modern language these words of the Apostles are translated "See that you behave carefully!…" This does not sound as strong or as expressive, but for some it might be easier to understand.
In the first century of our era St. Paul the Apostle wrote this to the inhabitants of Ephesus, the ancient capitol city of Asia Minor, who had been converted to faith in Christ. But of course this most important caution of the great "Apostle of the Gentiles," like all the Apostolic writings in general, also applies to us, to the Christians of all times and nations.
It is especially important for us "last Christians" living all over the whole world in the present twentieth century to remember this warning. At this time anyone who wishes to remain faithful to Christ the Saviour and be a true Christian is surrounded on all sides by an infinite multitude of all possible sorts of temptations and trials, ranging from the very crudest all the way to the most refined ones, which are at times hard to discern, but which are especially dangerous and destructive.
The whole history of mankind for the last 20 centuries since the day the Saviour of the World, our Lord Jesus Christ, appeared in the world is nothing but the devil's intense struggle, through people who have willingly or unwillingly submitted themselves to him, against true faith in Christ and the saving fruits of the Lord's Redemptive Sacrifice offered by Him for us on the Cross of Golgotha — a struggle to bring about the reign in the world of the enemy of Christ, the Antichrist, as soon as possible.
From this point of view all the events in the world history of mankind, all the twists of so-called "politics" become much clearer and more comprehensible. To be sure, much of it is cleverly concealed, "black" is called "white" and "white — black," but the Apostle warned us about that when he wrote that "Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light; therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness" (II Corinthians 11:14-15). We have constantly seen this throughout all of the past history of mankind and are especially frequently and clearly observing it today. However, if we are not spiritually blinded by these "ministers of Satan" and do not ourselves wittingly or unwittingly serve Satan, then by knowing this essential fact of the history of the world we can with relative ease make sense of what is currently happening and not be drawn into that terrible struggle "to the death" which is is being carried on in our times with special intensity and bitterness against our Lord and Saviour and all His faithful servants and sincere followers.
But woe to those who remain blind and do not see anything or who, blinded by serving their own sinful passions, are so distracted by them that they simply do not want to see anything!
But the "ministers of Satan," or, which is the same thing, the servants of the coming Antichrist, make use of this spiritual blindness of the majority of modern people and stubbornly and insistently do their work with genuinely satanic energy. With special efforts and with all available means, with the aid of all the resources under their control, they bind forcibly to themselves adepts who are wittingly or unwittingly, willingly, or unwillingly, cooperating with them in creating in the world circumstances and conditions appropriate for the very near appearance of the Antichrist as the ruler of the whole world and the master of all mankind.
How is this being done?
Here is how! Through schools, the press, and spoken propaganda they are spreading skepticism and atheism among people, in every way drawing them away from faith in Christ and from the true Church, even replacing, where this is necessary and useful for them, the true Church with just the appearance of it, i.e. a "pseudo-church." They are undermining all the supports of moral living, ridiculing and denying the concepts of conscience, of good and evil. They are systematically instilling and encouraging dissipation, especially among the younger generation; they are destroying the family by permitting easy divorces and legalizing abortions; they are declaring unnatural sexual tendencies, including even homosexuality, legal and permissible; they are spreading sorts of pornography. Under the pretext of "freedom" and "democracy" they are weakening firm governments everywhere where they are founded on the strong and healthy bases of faith and morality, undermining their authority by spreading all sorts of slander and insinuations. They are organizing direct or at least covert persecution of the faith and the Church, harassing and oppressing believers, who at times are subjected to very cruel persecution. They are encouraging the growth of crime by neither condemning nor punishing criminals. Finally, they are trying to undermine the foundations even of people's material welfare and prosperity by creating disruptions in the national economies, inflation and depression, in order to bring people to total despair and a condition of general anarchy, etc., etc.
But for what reason are they doing all this?
So that the people brought to hopeless despair will seize on the Antichrist when he appears as their saviour from all these ills and troubles, will worship him and entrust him with the fullness of power over all mankind as a dictator, an unchecked commander and master, with power to direct their life and death and their very souls.
In what way are the servants of Antichrist attaining their goals?
By taking into their own hands, into their complete and exclusive possession the chief shapers of modern human life and of that which is spreading its influence everywhere and is capable of holding people firmly — by seizing governmental power, capital, and the press in all countries.
And recently, when they have been forced to admit that faith in God and in Christ is still strong in people and cannot so simply be rooted out and destroyed, they have not unsuccessfully been taking control of the Church into their own hands, trying to become the complete and unchecked directors and controllers of people's religious and church lives and even applying ecclesiastical discipline to those who refuse to obey them so they can keep everyone in their power without opposition or rebellion.
We are observing in the modern world all the things set out so far.
This is why what is so clearly and obviously happening now gives us the undoubted and complete right to speak, write and preach about the approach of the time of the Antichrist's rule. Yet, to tell the truth, the Antichrist is already ruling in the modern world and is fighting cruelly against Christ and His true followers for his own influence and power over people.
But where is he, you ask.
We do not yet see him incarnate in a single, definite person, but he is already carrying on his satanic work by means of his many servants. And such people already began appearing in Apostolic times. Let us recall how Christ's beloved disciple, St. John the Theologian, wrote of this in his first epistle: "As ye have heard that Antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists…" (I John 2:18).
How is it possible unfailingly to discern these "antichrists" who represent themselves as the "forerunner" as it were of the Antichrist who is going to be incarnate at the end of the ages in a single, definite person?
St. John the Theologian gives us an indication of this too, cautioning all of us: "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the World" (I John 4:1-3). Of course one must remember that in the person of his "forerunner" there are those "many antichrists" of whom the Apostle spoke above in the second chapter of his epistle (verse 18).
Today we are seeing an extremely clear — much more so than ever before! — realization of all that of which the holy Apostle wrote in the first century! Since that time how many "antichrists" have appeared who "did not confess Jesus Christ come in the flesh" or confessed Him falsely, deceitfully, leading people into error and fighting in actuality against true faith in Christ — or denying it altogether, or distorting and corrupting it. But an especially large number of such "antichrists" have appeared in this truly wicked time when these "antichrists," open and hidden, have in fact completely or almost completely seized all civil and ecclesiastical power, all capital, and the whole press into their own hands while decisively eliminating, and sometimes even physically destroying, everyone who stood in their way, who hindered them in the realization of their intentions and desires.
And they are moving quite intently and decisively toward everything which they have not yet accomplished, not hesitating at any degree of cruelty, deceit, and violence, just as long as they reach their goal.
These "antichrists" and their supporters, aided by governmental power, capital, and the press, are subjecting to themselves and to their influence everyone who is spiritually blind or is enslaved by his own passions. Such people think only of the unhindered satisfaction of their own passions, close their eyes to Christ's pure, unadulterated truth, and do not want to read or hear the cautions and warnings of the word of God and of the holy, God-bearing men and instructors in the faith — they are no longer free spiritually, but one way or another have been enslaved by these "antichrists" whom they serve and please, employing for this purpose those earthly goods which they desire so much: power, honor, money, luxury, and dishonorable carnal pleasures and satisfactions, in which they find no boundaries or limits for themselves.
None of the people of this sort like to hear or read about the Antichrist; they laugh, curse, and spit at you when you remind them of him, for in their hearts they have already accepted the Antichrist as their guide and benefactor, even though some of them have even been priests and bishops of the Church. In the Apostle's words, "They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them" (I John 4:5).
Meanwhile all true Christians, and especially true ministers of the Church, are "not of the world," as the Lord Jesus Christ emphasized in His farewell talk with His disciples at the Las Supper. Here are His actual words which anyone who would be a true Christian must know and remember well: "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love its own: but because ye are not of the world, therefore the world hateth you" (St. John 15:18-19).
Thus the hatred of the world lying in evil is the chief indication that we are on the right course — that we are true followers of our Lord Jesus Christ. And vice versa: "The friendship of the world is enmity with God" (St. James 4:4).
This is why any effort on our part to befriend those "holding authority" at the present time when the "many antichrists" who are openly or secretly fighting against Christ and His true Church are so obviously in control, any effort slavishly to please them, flatter them, and do what they want, even to try for some degree of "legalization" from them is a betrayal of Christ our Saviour and enmity towards Him, even if those who act this way are wearing the dress of a clergymen.
In actuality, could anyone imagine Christ's Apostles, or even ordinary Christian believers, feasting at the same table with Annas and Caiaphas or Judas Iscariot after the crucifixion? But what do we frequently see now?
It was not in vain that the Holy Apostle Paul cautioned us in the person of the Ephesians: "See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:15-16), i.e. "Behave carefully, not as unwise men, but as wise, making good use of the time, for the days are evil."
It seems since the appearance of Christianity on earth there have never been more "evil days" than those we are now experiencing. "Now everything everywhere is penetrated and filled through and through with evil" — insincerity, deceit, craftiness, and betrayal, even from people whom, judging by the position they hold and the calling they bear, one would not expect it.
But here is something strange and sad! Many, very many people, even though they see and know all this, act like the "unwise" rather than like the "wise," destroying both themselves and others attracted by them to the depths of not just temporal and earthly, but eternal destruction.
We shall not fear the world's hatred towards us, being consoled always by the words of Christ mentioned above, but we shall rather fear lest we too might find ourselves on the way of evil and betrayal. For there is an infinite multitude of temptations to this in the modern world. How frequently, literally at every step, may one now encounter people who live only by evil and betrayal in order to obtain for themselves earthly prosperity, all sorts of earthly goods, and a life according to their own wills!
Do they think — these people — of what answer they will have to give at Christ's Dread Judgment Seat, especially if they are in the responsible posts of leaders of Church or governmental life? At least the very fact that they do not like to hear about it or remember it or that they speak of it with some kind of foul ridicule is a testimony to the last thing — to their lack of faith! But not even the most clever and evil "politics" and "diplomacy" will save them there!
But each of us ought to give some very deep and serious thought to everything that has been said in connection with the Holy Apostle Paul's caution, which is appropriate as can be to our time:
"See then that ye walk circumspectly."
Reprinted from The Just Shine Like The Stars,
West Coast Orthodox Supply, 1983