On the Third Sunday in Lent
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, it they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. Hebrews 6: 4 – 6
These words are a terrible judgement for those who fall away from Christianity, and begin to crucify again the Savior. Paul says: “It is impossible that they would be renewed again unto repentance”. This means those people who have been in the state of grace. They can no more make repentance because they become so hardened that they begin to blaspheme Christianity and the Savior. They have to do this against their conscience, as the evil spirit has got so great a power over them that he makes them blaspheme and crucify the Son of God against their conscience.
Namely, when a stone-blind person becomes angry with the Christians, he does this of ignorance, as Peter testifies in the Acts, when he rebuked Jews for the murder of Christ: “Through ignorance ye did it” (Acts 3:17). They did not have any better conscience or better mind. When they cried “crucify”, they imagined that they did right. Even a sorrowless man who has never become awakened believes that he does right when he blasphemes Christianity, as he has not yet received the enlightenment from the Holy Spirit that it is a great and terrible sin to blaspheme Christianity.
When a hardened person who not only has become once awakened but even come into grace, and then has become hardened, when such a person begins to crucify anew the Savior and blaspheme Christianity, then he commits a willful sin against his conscience. He has become a partaker of the Holy Spirit. He has tasted the good word. Thus, he knows that Christianity is right but nevertheless the Devil makes him fight against and blaspheme Christianity.
This is now the terrible sin which is called sin against the Holy Spirit, but a stone-blind man cannot sin against the Holy Spirit. Such a person does not know anything about the Holy Spirit. He has not yet become a partaker of the effects of the Holy Spirit. When such a person blasphemes Christianity, he does this according to the blind and wrong conscience which he has, because he does not have any better knowledge.
On the other hand, when a person who has once become enlightened, and has experienced grace, falls away and becomes hardened, then he sins against the Holy Spirit, if he begins to blaspheme Christianity. And we hear from the very mouth of the Savior that sin against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, neither in this nor in the world to come.
Therefore, here belong the aforementioned words of Paul which are written in Hebrews 6: 4 – 9. We are perfectly convinced of that the condition of grace which is described here is a full hardened state. Such hardened ones have also shown their true shape among the Christians. They are such hardened ones who were once graced.
There are also such hardened men whose conscience was once awakened, but not to that extent that they would have become graced. Such people can also become hardened when they fall back to sorrowlessness, and begin to crucify the Savior anew and blaspheme Christianity. Such people act against their conscience, and at the same time they sin against the Holy Spirit.
They had indeed got the true enlightenment from the Holy Spirit. However, they have not acted according to the conscience and understanding when they call their previous experiences effects of the evil spirit, although they know very well that it was the Holy Spirit that had begun the good work in them.
Even a sorrowless man may become hardened, and in this condition he sins against the Holy Spirit when he speaks and acts against his conscience, even though the conscience denies. An example were the Pharisees who claimed against their conscience that the Savior casts out devils with the power of Beelzebub. Although their conscience had never become awakened, they had still the witness in their conscience that the Savior does this with the power of God.
However, they had spiritual hatred in the heart against the Savior. This devil of hatred makes them blaspheme the effects of the Holy Spirit, against their conscience. This was a natural hardened state. Whether the people who become hardened are graced, awakened or sorrowless, this becomes anyway sin against the Holy Spirit. It bursts out against their conscience into such terrible words and deeds that what is an effect of the Holy Spirit, will be explained as an effect of the evil spirit.
Then a person is already hardened when he speaks against his conscience because of hatred or envy. Even such a man is not far from getting hardened who commits something against his conscience because of greed or earthly profit, like Judas Iscariot. However, Peter was not hardened when he because of fear denied against his conscience that he does not know Jesus. Neither was David hardened when he fell away from the state of grace through a willful sin. Namely, his conscience was sleeping then, and this sleeping conscience made sin allowed.
We can see from one of his psalms of penitence how heavy the penitence was that came over him after this fall. A Christian does not need to take example of David in committing sin but David´s penitence is indeed a fitting example for all penitent ones. If a person had become awakened by the law, and has stood a while under the law, and then rots in the net of the Holy Spirit, so that he goes back to sorrowlessness.
The person is not yet hardened, if he becomes awakened again. The latter awakening becomes only heavier for him, and the more difficult doubts will he have, because he has forsaken the first foregoing grace. Our precious Savior shows how unfortunate the person is from whose heart the evil spirit has gone out. If a person receives him again, then the last state of that man is worse than the first.
Pray the Stronger War Hero, ye few souls, from whose hearts the evil spirit has gone out by the power of the Great War Hero that He would always stand as door-keeper at the door of your heart, lest the Devil who has before lived in your hearts could come back. “Watch lest ye enter into temptation”.
Woe how unfortunate you are now and in eternity if the enemy who once became driven out from your hearts could another time come to abide there. Then your last state would become worse than the first. Thou strong War Hero, stay as door-keeper, who have cleansed the hearts of the believers with your own precious blood. Thou Great Shepherd of Israel, stay as door-keeper, lest the enemy could no more come to his previous house. Hear, thou strong Hero, the sigh of all the sorrowful, penitent and down-pressed ones. Our Father, etc.
Gospel: Luke 11.14
Our Savior shows in today´s gospel how unfortunate the man becomes in whose heart the Devil may begin to abide anew even though he has once got out. The Savior says that “the last state of that man is worse than the first”.
Accordingly, we shall by God´s grace consider at this holy moment the unfortunate and miserable state of a Christian who has fallen away. May the gracious Lord Jesus preserve those souls from falling away from grace, who have once come to that state. May He strengthen the weak and trembling ones so the enemy could not sift them.
As a warning to all awakened and graced ones the Lord has allowed some to go back to sorrowlessness, and even become hardened, as for example Judas who betrayed Jesus of greed. We say that God has allowed this, so that some disciples would become terrified, fear and pity the unfortunate soul who once was enlightened and called to that heavy ministry, although we do not know whether his conscience was ever truly awakened, as he could fall so soon away from his calling and begin to serve the Devil.
Could Judas say that the other disciples had spoilt his Christianity with merciless condemning and forsaking? It is indeed true that they began to examine amongst themselves who of them would be so shameless and unthankful that he would begin to merchandise in that way because of greed of money. Satan has certainly already spoilt his Christianity before this examination. Because Satan had already spoilt his Christianity, he could indeed become angry even with the Savior because of the dipped sop.
Peter was indeed eager to examine that the betrayer of the Savior would become apparent. John also asked the Savior secretly after the request of Peter who it was. Judas could still then betray the other disciples with his hypocrisy, as he made himself a Christian and began to imitate the customs of the disciples, so that they could not conclude anything concerning him. However, Judas has revealed himself later. Judas could not sit for long in the company of other disciples, as even the Devil of hatred went into him after the dipped sop.
This is now a terrifying example for the other disciples what a person can become like when the evil spirit comes a second time into him. If Judas had not hung himself so hastily, he would have begun to hate and persecute other disciples, as his carnal brothers and cousins do now. We cannot say whether the conscience of Judas was ever truly awakened but we know indeed that he had attended the school of the Savior, and that he had experienced the foregoing grace of God. He had not fallen away because of senselessness, but it was exactly as the Savior has explained in today´s gospel: “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, etc.”
The unclean spirit, who had once gone out from the heart of Judas Iscariot, has now taken seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they have gone into his heart. The first one was the devil of greed, then went the devil of honor, and it was this that made him deny his sin. Then the devil of hatred went into him after the dipped sop, and it made him go out during the supper. He could not wait until the thanksgiving psalm would be sung after the meal. This was because He was in hurry to fulfill his act of murder.
This is what the carnal brethren and cousins of Judas also do. They do not read anything when they have finished the meal, but immediately when they have put the last dipped sop in their mouth, they will rise up and go out. We have seen many times how the carnal brethren and cousins of Judas have got such a hurry to go out when the Devil drives them out.
Some people carry a secret hatred towards their neighbor, and they do not care to speak anything before the devil of liquor comes as aid for the devil of hatred. We understand thus that one devil cannot drive a person so hastily to work, but when another and a third come to help, then the slave of the devil will be in hurry. He cannot wait until a suitable time comes, but the slave of the wicked one has to march there where the devil compels him.
As we have now seen what the person becomes like in whose heart the unclean spirit can get for a second time, namely he becomes seven times worse than he was before. Thus, we understand very well why the Savior says in today´s gospel: “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, etc.” It has to be understood literally that the unclean spirit who was before in the heart of a man, takes seven other spirits more wicked than himself, because he thinks he cannot move alone the body of a man to commit evil.
The body of a man is rather heavy for the Devil to move to work. Therefore, the spirit of greed was not alone able to hurry up Judas to work, but when the devil of hatred came to help, then Judas came in a hurry. As there are many thousand unclean spirits in a man, then even chains cannot hold him. But the devil gets into great agony and trouble when he has to go out from the carnal heart of a man. Then he cries miserably: “Jesus, thou Son of God! Art thou come hither to torment us before the time?” (Matt 8:29).
The six thousand spirits cried in this way outside of the city of Gadarenes. They said that their name is Legion, which means six thousand. The unclean spirits cry still through the mouth of a man. When the living word of God may cut the heart of man, then he gets trouble of conscience, then the Savior casts out the unclean spirits which are in a person. Before they leave him, they really try to torment him. Therefore, some sorrowless people believe that the trouble of conscience is an effect of the evil spirit.
However, it is not as the blind wretches suppose, but it is the Holy Spirit that casts out devils from the heart of man. Then they persecute him, before they go out. This is what the evangelists Matthew, Mark and Luke write. When the unclean spirit now is gone out of a man, he walks through dry places, seeking rest, and finding none. It means that the devil feels very bad, as he now has to be without flesh. He tries often if he could come back to the previous house from where he came out.
An awakened and graced person experiences often temptations when the devil shoots its arrows, and he wants to enter his previous house. If a Christian does not any more feel temptations, then it means that the conscience is sleeping. Then the unclean spirit is ready to sneak upon a man. When a Christian feels a lot of temptations, then the enemy has become angry. He wants to wound his heart and tear his conscience.
If a person now is not diligent to watch and pray, the enemy will come as a thief in the night and take seven spirits worse than himself, and he will begin to abide in his previous mansion. Then the last state of that man will be worse than the first.
Now the enemy cares to abide in the warm house which is swept and garnished. It is not so full with devil´s shit as before, when the devil comes in there a second time. Still, it will not stay clean for a long time before the devil shits again there. He does not have time to go out and have his shit there, but where he eats there he will also shit.
When this will happen with a Christian that he falls away from grace, then the unclean spirit has come a second time into the heart of a man. Then the angels of the Devil rejoice over the fall of a Christian. Then they begin to shout to the world: “Behold, this is what the Christians are like!” When a certain Judas falls away from the company of the disciples, then the angels of the Devil surmise that all disciples of Jesus become like Judas.
Nevertheless, all Christianity is not yet lost, even though Judas has hung himself. There are indeed eleven disciples left who preach the gospel. I think that the angels of the Devil began too soon to rejoice over the fall of a Christian, as we know that the Savior is still alive. He will send His Holy Spirit who will reprive the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement. Even though many have become offended because of hard speech, and have forsaken Jesus, there are yet some although few souls who strive in their most precious faith and await the comfort of Israel.
Although the world, the Devil, and the own flesh afflict terribly even those few souls who are yet striving, it is still our hope and faith upon God that the Great War Hero who has overcome the armed enemy and divided his spoils, shall come and help those weary travelers, and strengthen the weary feet, and refresh the feeble knees, and comfort the fearful hearts that they would have the strength to fight and struggle yet for a while, as this war and struggle will soon come to an end. Soon the weary travelers may come through this troublesome world into the great city where the stronger one who has overcome the armed enemy, abides with the heavenly army. There they may behold the weapons which the stronger one has robbed from the enemy when he began to divide his spoils.
Fight yet for a short time, ye angels of Michael, and struggle, ye spiritual warriors. Soon the last war and struggle will come where the stronger War Hero will overcome and divide the spoils of the enemy. Fight yet for a while, ye angels of Michael, soon the great day of the Lord will come, when all battle and noise will cease, and all enemies will flee, and all brave soldiers of Jesus Christ will get the morning star, that is: the badge of honor on the breast, and the crown of life on the head, and white clothes on. Then they may rest and enjoy peace eternally. Amen.