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The Spiritual Man, book by H. H. Pope Shenouda III

53- Lives: above the level of what is seen

 

Things that are not seen

Seen matters are temporary while the unseen are eternal.

The material, the world and the flesh are among the seen and perishable matters. Live in the world but do not make the world live in you. What are the unseen things so we direct our attention to them?

St Paul the Apostle said: While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal (2 Cor 4: 18).

THINGS THAT ARE NOT SEEN

What are then the unseen things? Eternity is one of them!

The one who thinks about his eternity is always thinking about the unseen, because he does not see this eternity with his own eyes. And because this eternity, as St Paul the Apostle said: What eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man (1 Cor 2: 9).

There is also no doubt that the one who looks for his eternity will not care about the present, but will renounce it and will not hold on to it.

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In eternity, we look at God with the spirit.

The Holy Bible said about God: No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him (Jn 1:18).

To enjoy God does not come within the range of the senses, therefore it is eternal. It is an inexpressible joy, wonderful and no one can take it away from us...

Would that we get busy with God, who dwells in our midst, the One knocking on our doors, who said to us: I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Mt 28:20)... And also said: Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of them (Mt 18: 20).

He is then in our midst, and although we dont see Him but we can feel His presence. And in eternity we will see Him face to face, as the Apostle said (1 Cor 13:12).

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We will see Him and see His angels and the spirits of His saints whom we do not see now.

The angels of the Lord encamp all around those who fear Him and they fill the church. And they are all: Ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation. (Heb 1:14) And in spite of that, we do not see them with the material eyes but we will see them in eternity, as well as the spirits of the saints.

As for now, we look at them all with the spirit and see them through faith. We feel ashamed if we commit a sin in their presence.

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St-Takla.org Image: Arabic Coptic art of St. John the Evangelist and the Disciple. صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: فن عربي قبطي يصور القديس ماريوحنا الإنجيلي أو القديس يوحنا الحبيب الرسول.

St-Takla.org Image: Arabic Coptic art of St. John the Evangelist and the Disciple.

صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: فن عربي قبطي يصور القديس ماريوحنا الإنجيلي أو القديس يوحنا الحبيب الرسول.

The spirit is one of the unseen things. As for the body, it is one of the seen...

Therefore the spiritual man who loves God, does not live to look after the flesh and its needs, but to look after the spirit which is unseen. He takes care of her spiritual food, her eternal destiny and all that links her to God, the unseen, and makes her attached to Him...

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The one who looks at the unseen cares about the morals, the faith and the good.

Because faith is: The substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Heb 11: 1).

And the spiritual man who lives in faith, lives always looking at the unseen because the seen matters relate to sight and not to faith. And the Apostle said: For we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor 5: 7).

By the spirit we live in the morals that are not seen, the peace which we feel but do not see, the good which we follow but do not see.... and so on with all the unseen virtues.

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In all our affairs, we look at Gods unseen strength, which works with us.

 

 

We do not look at our visible weakness... to the problems we face... But we look at Gods help, like the Prophet Elisha when he prayed for his disciple Gehazi: Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them (2 Kings 6:16,17) .The most important thing with us is Gods help. By faith, we see it working in the universe. With this strength, we rejoice and sing with the Apostle: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil 4: 13)...

What are these things that are seen and the spiritual man should not look at them?

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Things That Are Seen

The material is one of the seen things, therefore it is temporary, does not stay forever. If we do not leave it, it will definitely leave us. Therefore the Lord said to the rich fool, concerning his possessions and barns: You fool!... Whose will those things be which you have provided?! (Lk 12:20) .

Therefore, happy is he who has treasures in heaven, with unseen things.... His treasures turn from seen to unseen... turn into spirituals...

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The universe is also one of the seen things, the temporary things.

Therefore the Lord said that heaven and earth will pass away. And St John of the Revelation said: And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea (Rev 21: 1).

They are all things that will pass away because they are of the seen. Therefore the church repeats for our hearing, in each Mass, the Apostles saying:

Do not love the world or the things in the world... And the world is passing away, and the lust of it (1 Jn 2: 15,17).

That is why we find that our fathers the saints started their spiritual life by death to the world.

They spent their life on earth as strangers and pilgrims, with no permanent homeland. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. (Heb 11:13,16). They do not look at what is seen.

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Perhaps some will ask: What should I practically do? How can I leave the world and the material while I live in them? The Apostle answers this question by saying: And those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away (1 Cor 7:31).

Then live in the world but do not let the world live in you.

You may possess the material, but do not let the material possess you.

The world belongs to the outside and does not enter into your heart, your thoughts and your feelings to use the material in it. And inwardly you are free from its control and its love.

Do not mourn the loss of anything worldly because it does not accompany you on the last day, as we have discussed this issue before here on st-takla.org in other sections. Therefore do not long to possess anything of the world, as the Lord said:

For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul (Mt 16:26).

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And the phrase not looking means not caring and not being occupied with anything of the material and the world, because the thought is already occupied with something that is spiritual, something that is unseen. And as the Apostle said: I want you to be without care (1 Cor 7:32).

The one who does not care about anything seen, no doubt lives happily and free from lust and from fear...

St Augustine said about that: I sat on top of the world when I felt in myself that I desire nothing and fear nothing .

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The one who has been elevated above the level of the material is a strong fortress that would not be destroyed. He is above the world and also above the flesh.

The material body is also of the temporary things that will pass away because it is controlled by the senses. And the time will come when we will be set free from it. When we take it off and put on a new body that is spiritual, luminous and uncorrupted. That is the glorified body of the resurrection...

As for this body, it will be eaten by worms and turn into dust. And when it is raised, it will be raised as a spiritual body, free from the control of the material with all its needs and its weaknesses.

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You are in the image of God and according to His likeness; and God is Spirit. Live then in the spirit.

The spirit is from the unseen things. And in the life of the spirit, you are free from the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. You take hold of things that will remain with you in eternity. As for the seen things, do not pay them any attention or make them cause you grief...

The Lord Jesus Christ was on the mount, with the Father, occupied with unseen things. How was His temptation by Satan in its three forms, united in one aim?

The temptation was an effort to distract Him from what is not seen to the world of the seen...

Satan attracted Him to the stone that could turn into bread to feed the body...; to the scenery that would attract the senses and to the kingdoms of the world and their glory.

As for the Lord, He held fast to the unseen things..., with the spirit that feeds on every word that comes from the mouth of God... Therefore He rejected all these materials and they did not affect Him.

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The temptation that our first parents experienced was from the seen things...

The fruit on the tree that was before them: Was good for food..Was pleasant to the eyes (Gen 3:6).Sodom looked like that in the eyes of Lot. It was well watered everywhere: Like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt (Gen 13:10).

Consider the story of Joseph and the wife of Potiphar. She was looking at the seen things; the beauty of the flesh and its lust. As for Joseph, he was looking at the Lord: How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? (Gen 39:9). He never looked at the seen things, the temporary... Therefore he was saved and the woman fell...

In the same way Solomon fell:

The tragedy of his fall was caused by his saying: Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them (Eccles 2:10).

Therefore he said: I built myself houses and planted myself vineyards. I made myself gardens and orchards.. I also gathered for myself silver and gold... I acquired male and female singers, the delights of the sons of men... (Eccles 2:4-10).

And what was the result? It made his heart turn from the Lord (1 Kings 11).

 

Finally, he discovered that all these seen things are:

Vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun (Eccles 2:22).

But he discovered this truth late, after it affected his spirit and made him fall in that which wise men would not fall in!!

Riches spoiled Solomon, made him fall in many lusts and turned his heart to women. The riches also made the young man keep away from Jesus and : ...he departed very sorrowfully...

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But some wealthy people kept their love for God because they did not love the riches. They were not occupied by collecting and storing possessions. But they sold all and gave the poor, like St, Anthony the Great and St Milania. And also like what Job the Righteous used to do.

The problem then is not in the possession itself but in looking at it, relying on it and in becoming proud because of it.

All that is about the seen things.

The monks, the ascetics and the hermits lived by looking at the unseen.

They looked at the seen things and found them temporary and passing away, not worth their attention. So they were elevated above that level and above any desire for such things. They died for the world and for what is seen, looking at the unseen, due to their great love for the King, Jesus Christ.

In the same way lived our fathers, who considered themselves strangers on the earth.

They waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God (Heb 11:13,10). Their looks were concentrated on the eternity that was promised by God. They did not see it by the eye, not having received the promises, but they saw it from afar and believed in it. And so David the Prophet used to say: I am a stranger with you, A sojourner, as all my fathers were (Ps 39:12)... The same with Moses the Prophet who was a prince in the palace of the king. But when he came of age, he did not look at this seen greatness, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater than the treasures in Egypt... (Heb 11:26).

The same thing applies to the martyrs and confessors.

They approached death, without looking at the world and all that is in it. They rejected the temptations presented to them because their eyes were fixed on the unseen, the eternal life that is not seen and on what eyes has not seen... (1 Cor 2:9)... What do we say then about those who do not pay the tithes because they look only at the seen, without seeking the blessing of what is unseen.

The Lord Jesus Christ was a model of looking at the unseen.

In the miracle of the five loaves and two fish, Jesus did not look at the bread that is seen, but he looked up to heaven and blessed it. And in His talk with the Samaritan woman, the Lord did not care about this water that is seen, but He concentrated on the living water that is unseen... The same thing with worshipping, not in the seen Jerusalem, or on that mountain, but in the spirit and truth, which are unseen... And about the kingdom , He did not care about the earthly kingdom that is seen, but about the spiritual kingdom.

Looking at the unseen saves the world from the materialistic beliefs, pornography and immorality, and from existentialism which cares only about the existence in this earthly world.


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