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

17- Sources of strength

 

There is no doubt that God Himself is the source of spiritual strength.

Therefore the Psalmist says: I will love you, O Lord, my strength (Ps 18:1). And says: The Lord is my strength and song (Ps 118:14). And also says: God is our refuge and strength (Ps 46:1). And as St Paul the Apostle said about strength in the service: If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified (1 Pet 4:11). And David chants about Gods strength that works in him and says: It is God who arms me with strength, He teaches my hands to make war (Ps 18:32,34)

Therefore any strength which is not from God is vain strength and will end up vanishing.

Like Pharaohs strength, for example, or the devils strength.. and the strength of Ahab who killed Naboth the Jezreelite .. and the strength of the counsel of Ahithophel! And like the strength of Goliath.. and all those who were strong through their slyness or their pride.

St-Takla.org Image: Arabic Bible verse: Lord, I believe; help my weak faith صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: أُومِنُ يَا سَيِّدُ، فَأَعِنْ عَدَمَ إِيمَانِي

St-Takla.org Image: Arabic Bible verse: Lord, I believe; help my weak faith

صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: أُومِنُ يَا سَيِّدُ، فَأَعِنْ عَدَمَ إِيمَانِي

As for the spiritual man, his strength is from God who works in him. St Paul the Apostle says about that: To this end I also labour, striving according to his working which works in me mightily (Col 1:29). According to the power that works in us (Eph 3:20). It is the strength of the Holy Spirit.

As far as the strength is from God, we ask for it through prayer, and we receive it through faith and Gods grace.

The spiritual man stands weak before the Lord, asking strength from Him and prays saying: Lord, give me Your strength, Without You I can do nothing (Jn 15:5). And with prayer, God grants him strength, like Samsons last prayer and how God responded to him (Judg 16:28,30).

Faith gives man strength because all things are possible to him who believes. (Mk 9:23).

Even if he became weak at one time, faith will make his strength return to him. Didnt the Lord say: If you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, Move from here to there, and it will move (Mt 17:20). And if the spiritual man felt that his faith is getting weak, he cries to the Lord saying: Lord, I believe; help my unbelief! (Mk 9:24). And so we find that faith and prayer work together, to bring strength to man. And with prayer, God struggles with man and never leaves him till he receives strength from Him. He prays with faith that strength will come to him...

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And the spiritual man receives strength through the Holy Spirit which works in him.

And so the one who works with the Holy Spirit must be strong, as we have discussed this issue before here on st-takla.org in other sections. Therefore if you find yourself weak at any time, examine your fellowship with the Holy Spirit. The reason for Samsons loss of strength is that the Spirit of God departed from him (Judg 16:20). Hold fast to the best of your ability, to the work of the Spirit in you. Prepare yourself through purity and holiness, till your temple becomes worthy of Gods Spirit to dwell in you , and so you continue being strong.

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Man keeps his spiritual strength by keeping Gods word firm in him.

As far as Gods commandment is placed before you and you love Gods word and hide it in your heart and repeat it with your mouth, youll find that Gods word will give you strength and give you shame from sin, because: The word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword (Heb 4:12). How beautiful is the saying of St John the Apostle to the youth: I have written to you, young men, because you are strong and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one (1 Jn 2:14).

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Man also receives strength from God through humbleness.

Because: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (Jas 4:6 ). The proud thinks that he is going to prevail with his human strength, so he depends on his own strength and fails. As for the humble, because he feels his weakness, he depends on Gods strength and God grants him this strength: That the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us (2 Cor 4:7).

Consider how the devils said to St Macarius the Great: It is only with your humility that you defeated us. And how St Anthony said: I saw the devils snares spread on the whole ground. So I said, Lord, who will be saved? And He said: The humble will be saved from them...

The humble who stand before God as weak, are those about whom the divine inspiration said: God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty (1 Cor 1:27). That no flesh should glory in his presence...

The humble does not fear, because God is with him. But when does man truly fear? He fears when his heart becomes haughty and thinks that he is strong and that he has been raised up to heaven and sat on the Lords throne and the devil became under his feet!!

Look at the saying of the great St Paul the Apostle: For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor 12:10).

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The spiritual man becomes strong with the purity of the heart.

Because the pure heart is an impregnable fortress, and out of it spring the issues of life (Prov 4:23). And the pure heart is the one that rises above the lusts of the world. How beautiful is St Augustines saying about that: I sat on top of the world when I felt that I lust for nothing and fear nothing... Truly, a devoted heart is a strong heart, no desire will overcome it and nothing will make it fear.

With this devotion and absence of fear came the strength of the martyrs and the strength of the monks.

The martyrs experienced all types of temptations, threats and torments but they withstood all that with an amazing strength because there was no lust in their heart to respond to temptations, no fear to be disturbed by threats and also no fear of death. They kept their strength before all the kings, rulers and judges. They were stronger than those who persecuted them.

Likewise the monks because they freed themselves from lusts, they were able to overcome the world. They were strong in enduring their solitude, living in mountains and wilderness, even living in tombs. They were also strong in the diabolic wars. And they were strong in their spiritual effect on others. Princes became monks because they were stronger than the lust of monarchy. The devils tried to frighten St Anthony with all horrific scenes, but he was stronger than them. He was able to overcome them by his humility and faith. St Macarius also did not fear when he slept in a tomb, his head on a skull and the devils talked to him. But his heart was strong with faith and did not fear...

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There are also people who are strong by nature.

God meant them to be born like that, with a strong heart, a strong mind and a strong personality. For example, Samson, John the Baptist, Elijah and David.

We move to another point which is the elements of strength:


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