Orthodox Daily Devotional for October 28-November 3
**The Gospel and commentary below are about the Lord casting the demons in the herd of swine. Since we have ready this several times this year I have included the Epistle of Paul advising early Christians to follow the Church and not Jewish customs…
11 See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand! 12 As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. 13 For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. 14 But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by [b]whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. 16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.
17 From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
18 Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
“We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth, and of all things visible and invisible.” These opening words of the Nicene Creed, the central doctrinal statement of Christianity, affirm that the One True God is the source of everything that exists— both physical and spiritual, both animate and inanimate. The Holy Scriptures begin with a similarly striking assertion: “In the beginning God made heaven and earth.” St. Basil the Great declares: In the fear that human reasonings may make you wander from the truth, Moses has anticipated inquiry by engraving in our hearts, as a seal and a safeguard, the awesome name of God: ‘In the beginning God created.’ It is He— beneficent Nature, Goodness without measure, a worthy object of love for all beings endowed with reason, the beauty the most to be desired, the origin of all that exists . . .— it is He who ‘in the beginning created heaven and earth.’ The ever-existent Almighty God was not forced to create the universe. Rather, in His goodness and lovingkindness, He freely chose to do so. And the fact that the Lord created the universe out of nothing stands in clear contrast to the creation myths of the surrounding cultures in the ancient world. The central role of Jesus Christ, the Word of the Father, in the creation of all things is plainly stated in the first chapter of the apostle John’s gospel, where it is written, “In the beginning was the Word, . . . All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” And the specific role of the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Undivided Trinity, in the creation of the world is seen in Genesis 1: 2 (see also Ps 103: 30; 32: 6). Regarding questions about the scientific accuracy of the Genesis account of creation, and about various viewpoints concerning evolution, the Orthodox Church has not dogmatized any particular view. What is dogmatically proclaimed is that the One Triune God created everything that exists, and that man was created in a unique way and is alone made in the image and likeness of God (Gn 1: 26, 27).
The development of life was not by accident. Rather, Supreme Intelligence and Impenetrable Wisdom were at work in the creation and sustenance of all that exists. In discussing various scientific theories of his day, St. Basil the Great declared, “If there is anything in this [or any other] system which seems probable to you, keep your admiration for the source of such perfect order— the wisdom of God.” He also wrote, “We must still remain faithful to the principle of true religion and recognize that all that exists is sustained by the Creator’s power.” The repeated affirmation “and God saw that it was good” in Genesis 1 underscores the intrinsic, fundamental goodness of matter and the whole created order, even after the Fall. This understanding is the basis for a sacramental world-view— that the created order not only is good, but also can be a means for communion with God, by virtue of being created by the All-Good God. Moreover, the astounding beauty, intricate order, and sublime harmony of all aspects of Creation, as well as the tremendously vast expanse of the universe, are intended to draw mankind to an awareness of and appreciation for the Creator, and to the worship of Him— and Him alone (see Ps 18: 1– 4; Rom 1: 20). Go to the Index to Study Articles 2: 1– 3 God finished the making of heaven and earth for man’s sake. He rested from His creative activity on the seventh day to show His love and providential care for man, and to invite man to enjoy this Sabbath-rest. For as Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mk 2: 27). Man failed to keep this Sabbath-rest. But Jesus fulfilled it for man by resting in the tomb.
The Holy Trinity is revealed both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. In the Old Testament, the Trinity is revealed in subtle ways; in the New Testament, the Trinity is revealed fully and plainly, beginning at the Baptism of our Lord. The Holy Trinity is one God in three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. These Persons are distinct, but not separate, and are not three gods. They are One God because They are one in essence or nature. The Father is the unbegotten Fountainhead of Deity. The Son is eternally begotten of the Father (Jn 1: 18; 3: 16; 16: 28). The Holy Spirit is the Helper (Jn 14: 16) and Spirit of Truth (Jn 14: 17; 16: 13), Who proceeds from the Father (Jn 15: 26). The Holy Trinity Created the World Genesis 1: 1— God the Father created the heavens and the earth. The Creed says: “I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.” Genesis 1: 2— The Spirit of God is the Holy Spirit. He hovered over creation in creative power and equality with the Father. He co-created with the Father. Genesis 1: 3— As the Word of God, the Son made the light (Jn 1: 1– 3). With creative power and equality with the Father, He also co-created with the Father and the Spirit. Genesis 1: 26— The pronouns “Us” and “Our” reveal a plurality of divine Persons. These Persons are the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit operating in complete unity out of the one divine Nature.
The Holy Trinity Saves the World Isaiah 63: 16— The Father is our Redeemer. He not only created the world but redeems it as well. Psalm 2: 7, 8— The Father’s decree reveals the Son as inheriting the world. This inheritance is the people saved by the Son. Isaiah 6: 1– 3— The words “Holy, Holy, Holy” declare the three Persons who save us. The name “Lord” declares the one essence of the Three. Isaiah 44: 3— The Father pours out His Spirit on people like water on dry ground. The Holy Spirit quenches the thirst of the person who thirsts for salvation. Isaiah 48: 16, 17— The Son declares that the Father and the Spirit sent Him to redeem the world. Although the Son alone became a Man, all three Persons save mankind.
The New Testament Affirms the Holy Trinity in the Old Testament John 1: 1– 3— The Word is the Son of God, who was present with the Father at the beginning of creation. He was Co-worker with the Father in creating the world. John 8: 58— Jesus identifies Himself as having existed before Abraham. Before His coming in the flesh as Man, Jesus existed as the eternal Son of the Father, for He is begotten from the Father before all time and ages. He appeared to Moses in the burning bush and proclaimed Himself as “I Am” (Ex 3). Acts 2: 17— The Holy Spirit’s descent at Pentecost affirms His presence in the Old Testament (Joel 3: 1– 5). Hebrews 1: 8– 10— This Scripture affirms the Father is speaking to the Son in Psalms 44: 7 and 101: 26– 28, in which the Father acknowledges the Son as God and Creator of the world. For the Son was the Father’s Co-worker in creation.
In the Old Testament account of creation, God created mankind and established a place for him called Paradise. He also gave him a commandment regarding the tree of the knowledge of good and evil: “And the Lord God commanded Adam, saying, ‘You may eat food from every tree in the garden; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you may not eat; for in whatever day you eat from it, you shall die by death’” (Gn 2: 16, 17). In that Adam and Eve did not physically die the day they ate from the tree, the words “you shall die” indicate a spiritual death through separation from God. Ancestral sin is the disobedience of Adam to God’s command regarding the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam willingly disobeyed this commandment and diverted himself, or fell, from God’s path to perfection, thus separating himself from His Creator, the Source of life. What Are the Consequences of the Fall? 1. This Fall of Adam caused mankind to become subject to mortality. While this is often seen mainly as a punishment, or penalty, the emphasis concerning God’s judgments on Adam and Eve at the Fall is best understood in terms of His mercy. So, for example, concerning man’s mortality (Gn 3: 19), St. Gregory the Theologian states, “Yet here too He provides a benefit— namely death, which cuts off sin, so that evil may not be everlasting. Thus His punishment is changed into a mercy.” 2. We who are of Adam’s race are not guilty because of Adam’s sin, but because of our own sin. However, because all of mankind fell away from the grace of God through Adam’s disobedience, man now has a propensity, a disposition, an inclination towards sin, because just as death entered the world through sin, now sin enters through fear of death.
Mankind’s strong propensity to commit sin reveals that in the Fall, the image of God in man (Gn 1: 26, 27) is also fallen. However, the ancient Fathers emphasize that the divine image in man has not been totally corrupted or obliterated. Human nature remains inherently good after the Fall; mankind is not totally depraved. People are still capable of doing good, although bondage to death and the influences of the devil can dull their perception of what is good and lead them into all kinds of evil. 4. Adam’s Fall not only brought mortality and sin into the world, but also sweat, toil, hunger, thirst, weariness, sorrow, pain, suffering, sickness, tribulations, tragedy and tears. 5. Even after the Fall, the intellectual, desiring and incensive (forceful or driving) aspects of the soul are natural and therefore neutral. They can be used in a good way, or in a bad, harmful way. For instance, desire is very good when one directs it towards God. But when desire is out of control, one may use it in very inappropriate ways, such as becoming gluttonous or desiring another person’s spouse. The classic analogy is that these powers of the soul are like iron, which can be made into a plow to help grow food, or into a sword to be used to kill someone. Christ, by His Death and Resurrection, conquered the devil and death, freeing mankind from the fear of death (Heb 2: 14– 15) and making possible a more complete communion between God and man than was ever possible before. This communion allows people to become “partakers of the divine nature” (2Pt 1: 4), to transcend death and, ultimately, all the consequences of the Fall.