We mention in this context our first parents and grandparents Adam and Eve, the first human beings, the first sinners, the first to undergo punishment, and the first married couple forming the first family.
The type of the relationship between our mother Eve and our father Adam:
She is of the same nature, or rather "bone of his bones" and "flesh of his flesh" (Gen 2: 23) She is a helper comparable to him (Gen 2: 18) in nature, in mind, and in spirit. She is in God's image and likeness, responsible for her actions. He is the head, and she a helper, for God said, "He shall rule over you" (Gen 3: 16), and the Scripture says, "The head of woman is man" (1 Cor 11: 3; Eph 5: 22), and commands women to submit to their husbands in everything (Eph 5: 24).
Nehemiah built the walls of Jerusalem so that the people might no longer be a reproach. In his determination that knows no despair, he could turn darkness into light and grief into joy. Yet this was not all.
There were souls like Jerusalem, with walls broken down and gates burned with fire, souls trodden by enemies, and lost dignity. Having completed restoration of the city, Nehemiah then began restoration of those souls. He did not want for Jerusalem with the new walls to be like whitewashed tombs, while the inside full of dead men's bones (Mt 23: 27).
We know nothing about Nehemiah's past life except his enthusiasm to build the wall of Jerusalem. The lives of some people begin from the time of their attachment to God and to church. Their true lives are briefed in what they did for God, and the rest is only emptiness, not worth to be recorded.
Nehemia was a captive in Babylon,and held a position in the palace of King Artaxerxes. He was the king’s cupbearer (Neh 1: 11)
A person often forgets the sins he committed, but there may be certain unforgettable sins.
David the Prophet for instance asked the Lord in his prayer to forget his many sins, saying, "If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?" (Ps 130: 3) "Do not enter into judgment with Your servant, for in Your sight no one living is righteous." (Ps 143: 2) "Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions." (Ps 25: 7) Even concerning his errors, he says, "Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults." (Ps 19: 12)
The body is not a sin: First of all the body or the flesh is not a sin by itself, for many reasons:
1. Had the body been evil, God would not have created it, for after creating it, God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good (Gen 1: 31).
2. Had the body been evil, the Lord Christ would not have taken for Himself a human body, "The Word became flesh." (Jn 1: 14)
3. Had the body been evil, the Scripture would not have said, "Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you." (1 Cor 6: 19) "Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?" (1 Cor 6: 15)
Many people begin with spirituality, but do not continue, or begin with fervency then cool down, lapse, leave their first love, or become lukewarm. The Lord Christ therefore in the Parable of the Sower, presents to us the various types of people in whose land the seeds fell, and of whom some failed. One type is those who, having no root, withered away (Mt 13: 6).
In the beginning of the New Year people usually make wishes for the world, for their country or community, or for the church. It is a good thing and a duty, but what about your private and spiritual life in particular: what are your wishes in the New Year? Actually if the individuals are good, the whole society,the church and the country will be good.I would like to remind you of the Lord's promises in the Book of Ezekiel: "I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness … I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them."
A verse repeated twice in the Proverbs due to its important says, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death." (Prov 14: 12; 16: 25) It probably means that a person should not rely on his own view and understanding of matters, for he may be wrong or think a certain way good, while it is harmful. Therefore, "Lean not on your own understanding" (Prov 3: 5), nor lay your whole trust on your own thoughts and trends, nor fulfill all your desires, for though they may seem sound, they turn to your trouble.
It is not a fault or a sin to love oneself, if it is spiritual love. It is the first and greatest commandment, or the highest level of love for the others, as the Lord says:
"You shall the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind … the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Mt 22: 37- 39)
It is not a fault or a sin to love oneself, if it is spiritual love. It is the first and greatest commandment, or the highest level of love for the others, as the Lord says:"You shall the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind … the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Mt 22: 37- 39)
Concerning wrong love the Lord says, "He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it." (Mt 10: 39) To discern between the two types of love, we should know that by the ego war or self-worship, the focus is on oneself, to build one's career and attain higher levels, through wrong means, such as:
Some may have a good beginning with God, inflamed with love, but they do not continue. Love cools down. What is the reason?
One of the main reasons is leniency towards sin and towards the self.
That was the reason for the first man's fall. In his lenience, he allowed himself to sit to the serpent and to listen to its words contradicting the commandment. He submitted to the temptation, and in weakness fell. Eve was not firm towards the sinful thought offered by the serpent. She accepted it, discussed it, and submitted to it. The thought prevailed over her and led to many other sins, and she lost her simplicity and purity.
Danger of the ego:
The ego may lead a person to perdition, for the Lord Christ says, "He who finds his life will lose it." (Mt 10: 39) It is very dangerous indeed to focus on oneself and try to be greater and exalted, feeling righteous, great, and wise in one's own and the others' eyes (Job 32: 1; Acts 12: 21- 23; Prov 3: 7), all of which the Lord warned against.
Hindrances Not Preventives
Life of virtue and righteousness is not always easy, for there may be some hindrances on the way, facing even saints, as we know from their biographies. Why then does God permit such hindrances, what are their sources, causes, and benefits?
Causes and sources of hindrances:
1. Some are caused by the devil, for he walks about like a roaring lion, seeking a prey, and sowing tares everywhere, as he did to Eve our mother, giving her a destructive counsel. We ought to be on our guard, "for we are not ignorant of his devices" (2 Cor 2: 11). That is why St. Athansius in his struggle against the Arians said, 'Our first enemy is not Arianism, but the devil.'
You may find great comfort and pleasure in talking with someone and wish the talk would extend, while with someone else you may count the minutes and wish the meeting would end. One is pleasing, and the other is boring!
One may pass like a calm breeze of sweet aroma, while another is like a windy storm!
What is a pleasing soul like? What are its attributes? Why are some people pleasing, and some not?
“He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Mk 4: 9, 23)
Let us contemplate on the two phrases repeated in the messages the Lord sent to the seven churches in Asia: 'I know your works', and "He who has ears to hear, let him hear".
They are messages to everybody:
God sends His word to all people: the righteous and the wicked, those who love Him and those who left their first love! He sent a word even to the angel of the church in Sardis to whom He said, "You have a name that you are alive, but you are dead," (Rev 3: 1) and to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans to whom He said, "You are neither cold nor hot ... I will vomit you out of My mouth." (Rev 3: 15, 16)
Tests can be a proof of a person's virtue. Passing these tests determines one's personality and rank in the eternal life. Some people undergo tests only for a short period, like John the Baptist, whose ministry took only one year or a little more, but was very successful. He proved himself humble, self-denying, and brave. Therefore, that short period was enough, and God took him at the age of thirty-two.
Measured by the kind of one's interests
The Lord Christ said to Martha, "You are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Lk 10: 41) What about you, brother; what are your priorities? Your priorities determine your enthusiasm, your actions, and your will.
represents life of Virtue & Righteousness
The Scripture says, "No condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit." (Rom 8: 1) What then is the life in the Spirit? It is the spiritual life as a whole.
Living in the Spirit is based on two main things:
a. the victory of the human spirit in its struggles
Crown Rewards for the Life of Virtue & Righteousness
Life of virtue and righteousness is one of struggling against the self, the world and material things, and against Satan. Those who overcome will receive crowns in eternity. The Lord Christ, in His messages to the seven churches in Asia, says to the angel of the Church in Philadelphia, "Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown." (Rev 3: 11)
Virtues alone are not enough
Some would say they fast, pray, confess, read the Holy Scripture and spiritual books, minister, give charity, and partake of the Holy Communion, and practice many virtues, however, their spiritual life is at a standstill with no growth at all. They do not know the reason.
Such virtues perhaps are defective
Solomon the Wise says, "He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city." (Prov 16: 32) Who then is the person who rules his spirit, that is, who has self-control?
Self-control has various aspects, such as control over tongue, over thoughts, over senses, over stomach, over desires and lusts, over nerves, and over all acts of a person.