"But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth."

Pleasure is not the purpose of life! Perfection is the purpose of life!

 

1 Timothy 5:6

Read on the 27th Monday after Pentecost.

 

 

"But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth". This dogmatic[1] statement by the Apostle Paul accurately describes the life of millions in our society today, who believe the lies of society.

 

Pleasure is not the purpose of life! Perfection is the purpose of life!

 

We live in an age where the worth of something is determined solely by whether or not it is pleasurable.

 

This is the major argument for sexual immorality. People do not say exactly "if it feels good, do it", but they cloak their justifications in emotional and materialistic arguments, and even warp their theology to fit their lifestyle choices.

 

We are not animals. We are made in the image and after the likeness of God[2]. If a person really understands what this means, he knows intuitively what is right and what is wrong, and his criterion is not pleasure, but rather whether or not his heart is at peace with the will of God.

 

We are made to exercise our free will in such a way that it becomes perfected, so that we can have our will in union with God's.

 

Anything not according to God's nature causes the soul to be dead, even while it liveth.

 

The world does not understand this. Most Christians do not understand this.

 

Orthodox ascetical theology has an important term which a Christian must intuitively understand - the remembrance of death. This is the ability to know which things make the soul dead, even while it liveth.  This is a learned skill, that only the Holy Spirit can teach to a willing pupil.

 

The only way to understand why we should follow the commandments of God and not listen to the lies of the world regarding them is to live according to them. The Lord said "My sheep follow me because they know my voice"[3]. There is a cacophony of false voices; how do we hear the Lord's voice"? It is by being in proximity to Him, listening, and obeying.

 

Our society only treats the physical needs, and in this they do a poor job. It is full of theological and moral heresies, and it kills souls. Such heresies are such things as the promoting and subsidizing of abortion, which kills souls, even while they live, and the promotion of and proselytization in favor of immoral sexual acts, which kill the soul even while it liveth. There are many other heresies - the promotion of entertainment, slothfulness, materialism, greed, narcissism, and many more.

 

Do not be deceived. You were born for perfection and union with God.

 

Do not let the world bully you. Know why you should live virtuously and know how to live in such a way, by frequent fasting, prayer and the reading of the Gospels and Psalms. Do not let false priories and every wind and change of doctrine affect you.

 

Remember that there is a next life, and this current life is not for pleasure. It is for perfection. If you live in this way, you will have pleasure, that is true joy from the Holy spirit abiding in your heart - in this world and the next.

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2013     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

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[1] DOGMA is something that is always true. Most people recognize statements about the nature of God as dogma (God is a Trinity of persons, uncreated, the creator of all things, Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man, etc), but there are many moral dogmas. All of these dogmas are derivative - they are derived and extrapolated from the nature of God. They never change. This statement by the apostle Paul is such a dogma. Doing things contrary to the nature of God, if there is no repentance, will always cause the death of the soul.

 

[2] Genesis 1:26  "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth."

 

I think this is the best answer, although certainly not an assurance of a short conversation, when someone asks "How is Orthodoxy different than ....?" the Orthodox base all their theology, practice and prayer on this statement. For us, salvation is the ultimate realization of the true meaning of this statement.

 

[3] John 10:4-5  And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.  (5)  And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.