ORTHODOXY – PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS
THE LAW CHRISTIANS MUST OBEY
Whoever has faith in Christ has made a good beginning which needs to be brought to fruition. Faith in Christ without works, as James the Apostle says, is dead. The works are accomplished by hearkening to and carrying out all that the Son commands, for He speaks what His Father wills, thus we all need to listen and obey. Christ speaks as follows: “You have heard that it was said to them of old time, you shall not kill; and whoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment, and whoever shall say to his brother Raca, shall be in danger of the council; but whoever shall say you fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.”
The law of Moses subjected murderers to the penalties of justice. Christ’s legislation differs by forbidding the lesser behavior that leads to murder, such as anger, insult and blasphemy forbidding and penalizing these things preventing the crime of murder. To be guilty of these lesser things must be shown as being related to the potential crime, for example, all types of anger do not lead to murder. Also whoever called his brother raca ( similar to “worthless” or “good for nothing”) makes him liable before the council,” and possible condemnation.
The Gospel Laws established by Christ are for those who believe in Him and strive to keep His commandments as members of His Church. All Orthodox Christians are brothers and sisters of Christ and what they do to each other is done to Christ who said: “Amen, Amen, I say unto you as you have done to the least of these my brethren you have done it to me” (Mat.25:40). Therefore a Christian unreasonably angry with another is also unreasonably angry with Christ. He who calls his brother a fool, knowing him to be the brother of Christ, evidently calls Christ a fool. And he who calls Christ a fool blasphemes against the Holy Spirit. For whoever is a fool is a fool because of his folly, and folly indicates a spirit of foolishness and senselessness. That means he has called the spirit in Christ a spirit of folly. Christ was maligned by the Pharisees and said: “whoever speaks a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit., it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world nor in the world to come” (Mat. 12:32).
“Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled with your brother and then come and offer your gift. When you know your brother has been wronged go to him and be reconciled then offer your gift.” Not just remembering our own ill feelings toward a brother, but also those of him towards us, requires us to seek reconciliation with him.
Concerning adultery Christ says: “You have heard that it was said by them of old time, you shall not commit adultery: but I say unto you, whoever looks on a woman with desire has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” The new law of Christ prohibits even the desire which itself is wicked, and deems it to be adultery. By preventing the desire the act will not be committed.
“If your right eye scandalize you, pluck it out and cast it from you, for it is better that one of your members should perish and not your whole body be cast into hell.” To pluck out the eye means to turn it away and you have done what is commanded. “And if you right hand should scandalize you, cut it off, and cast it from you, for it is profitable that one of your members should perish and not your whole body be cast into hell.” If mere touching arouses in your heart unreasonable desire, do not touch that which scandalizes you, and as He said looking at a woman with desire in the heart is already adultery.
“It has been said, whoever shall put his wife away let him give a writing of divorcement. But I say unto you, whoever shall divorce his wife except for fornication causes her to commit adultery. God made them male and female. What God has joined together, has become one flesh. Moses, because of the hardheartedness of the Jews, allowed them to divorce their wives with a writing of divorcement, and not just kill them to marry another.. Christians however, are not hardhearted like the Jews and are restricted to divorce only in the case of adultery.
“It was said by them of old time, you shall not foreswear yourself, but shall perform unto the Lord your oaths. But I say unto you: swear not at all, neither by heaven for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth for it is the footstool of His feet . . . Swear not at all, but let your communication be yes, yes and no, no; for whatever is more than these comes from the evil one". The old law prohibited perjury, or breaking of one’s solemn promise, or telling a lie when an oath has been taken, and it was allowed at that time because of the wickedness of men. Christians must speak sincerely and from their consciousness and avoid all lies which belong to the evil one.
“You have heard that it has been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I say unto you, That you do not resist evil; but whoever shall strike you on one cheek; turn the other to him as well. And whoever will take away your coat let him take your cloak also. And whoever will compel you to go a mile, go two with him. Give to him who asks of you and from him that would borrow of you, do not turn away.”
It is obvious that these commandments of Christ are meant for those who believe in Him and love Him, and desire to follow his peaceful, holy and meek way of life. The new man being born of water and Spirit is freed from the wicked desires of the old man. Christ commands that we do not resist evil or seek revenge as does the old man. Christianity changes the nature of the new man and he gradually becomes like Christ, “for as many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”