Victory over Sin – The Life of Anthony
The ‘Life of St Anthony’, written by St Athanasius is the epitome of attaining victory over sin.
Having defended the faith against the heresy of Arius, St Athanasius indicates to us in his book the steps necessary for being victorious over sin and Satan many times over.
In this video, Father Elijah breaks down the life of St Anthony into 5 spiritual lessons.
The first, being the Power of the Psalms, shows to us the true struggle that St Anthony went through. Unlike the struggles we face, such as the temptation to eat chocolate when fasting, or the temptation to lie, St Anthony was burdened with very tangible and physical fights and battles. It was known that Satan disturbed St Anthony by day and harassed him by night. So much so, Satan went to the extent of physically beating St Anthony and offering him foul thoughts. Yet, amid all this, St Anthony prevailed over such battles with his fervent prayer of the Psalms. In response to one of his torments by Satan, St Anthony replied, “the Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6). Therefore, this shows that we cannot be victorious over sin alone, the Lord must be on our side. In fact, the Lord took on flesh so that we can have victory over the devil!!
The following lesson is the value of Asceticism. Father Elijah highlights to us that asceticism is not merely giving something up like giving up swearing, or giving up music with inappropriate images, for this is just fleeing from sin – it is what you should do regardless. Father Elijah points out that asceticism does not necessarily mean only giving up something that is bad. At its core, asceticism is giving something up for the sake of God.
By understanding this, we can see again that St Anthony knew he could not be victorious over sin alone. Rather, he needed to discipline is body and bring it into subjection – in the same way we discipline our body when we give something up.
The third lesson is that St Anthony Never Looked Back. However, this does not always entail something that is negative. For example, yes, you had a good work out but that does not mean you should reward yourself with McDonald’s – do not look back, keep going. Again, yes, you may have had such a spiritual passion week but that does not mean you can now rest completely and stop trying – do not look back, keep going. Father Elijah points out that looking back on the negative things can lead to despair, while overly focusing on the positive things can cause complacency. Instead, the life of St Anthony urges you to follow the verse in Philippians:
“I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14)
The fourth lesson we can learn from St Anthony is Honesty in Prayer. Never cease to remind yourself, God is your father, come as you are. God desires that you speak your thoughts and share what is on your heart. Every so often we falsely believe that we should eloquently tell God what He wants to hear. But ultimately, God desires that His children come as they are, in full honesty because He loves us!
We urge you to watch the video for the final lesson 🙂
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