Tuesday, June 12, 2012
The Shepherd of Hermas: The Twelth Mandate
...Rid yourself of all evil desire, and clothe yourself with the desire that is good and holy, for when you have clothed yourself with this desire, you will hate the evil desire and control it as you wish. For the evil desire is savage and only tamed with difficulty, for it is terrible and utterly destroys men by its savageness; in particular, if a servant of GOD gets entangled in it and lacks understanding, he will be terribly destroyed by it. It destroys such as do not have the garment of the good desire but are mixed up with this world. These it hands over to death. ...Hear...the kind of works by which the evil desire puts to death GOD's servants. ...
...Above all is the desire for someone else's wife or husband, and for the extravagances of wealth, and for many needless things to eat and drink, and many other foolish luxuries. For every luxury is foolish and futile for GOD's servants. These desires, then, are evil and bring death to GOD's servants. For these evil desires are the daughters of the devil. You must keep away, therefore, from evil desires, in order that by keeping away from them you may live to GOD. But those who are mastered by them and do not resist them will utterly perish, for these desires are deadly. But put on the desire of righteousness and, having armed yourself with the fear of the LORD, resist them. For the fear of the LORD lives in the good desire. If the evil desire sees you armed with the fear of GOD and resisting it, it will flee far from you and will no longer be seen by you, because if fears your weapons. So you, when you have triumphed over it, come to the desire of righteousness and deliver to it the victory you have won, and serve it just as it desires. If you serve the good desire and submit to it, you will be able to master the evil desire and control it as you wish. ...
...Practice righteousness and virtue, truth and the fear of the LORD, faith and gentleness, and whatever good things are like these. By practicing these you will be an acceptable servant of GOD and will live to HIM; indeed, all who serve the good desire will live to GOD.
...You have the commandments [mandates]; walk in them and encourage your listeners, in order that their repentance may be pure the rest of the days of their lives. Carefully execute this ministry which I am giving you and you will accomplish much. For you will find favor with those who are going to repent, and they will obey your words, for I will be with you...
...If you propose to yourself that they can be kept, you will keep them easily and they will not be hard. But if the idea that they cannot be kept by man has already entered your heart, you will not keep them. But now I say to you: if you do not keep them, but neglect them, you will not have salvation, nor will your children nor your family, since you have already decided for yourself that these commandments cannot be kept by man. ...
...Foolish man, lacking understanding and double-minded, don't you understand how great and mighty and marvelous GOD's Glory is, because HE created the world for the sake of man, and subjected all HIS creation to man, and gave him all authority to rule over everything under heaven? If then...man is lord of all GOD's creatures and rules over everything, can't he also master these commandments? The man who has the LORD in his heart...can master everything, including all these commandments. But to those who have the LORD on their lips but whose heart is hardened and who are far from the LORD these commandments are hard and difficult. You, therefore, who are empty and fickle in the faith, put the LORD in your heart, and you will realize that nothing is easier or sweeter or more gentle than these commandments.
You who walk in the commandments of the devil, which are difficult and bitter and savage and licentious, be converted and do not fear the devil, for he has no power against you. For I, the Messenger of Repentance, WHO has mastery over him, will be with you. The devil can only cause fear, but his fear has no force. Do not fear him, and he will flee from you. ...
...He cannot...oppress GOD's servants who hope in HIM with all their heart. The devil can wrestle with them, but he cannot throw and pin them. So, if you resist him, he will be defeated and flee from you in disgrace.
But those...who are empty fear the devil, as if he has power. When a man fills a large number of jars with good wine, and among those jars a few are partially empty, he does not bother to examine the full jars when he comes to the jars, for he knows that they are full. But he does examine the partially empty ones because he fears they may have turned sour. For partially empty jars quickly turn sour, and the taste of the wine is ruined. So also the devil comes to all GOD's servants to empty them. All those who are full in the Faith resist him mightily, and he leaves them alone, because he finds no place where he can gain entrance. So then he comes to those who are partially empty, and finding a place he enters them, and then he does what he wants with them, and they become enslaved to him. ...
...But I, the Messenger of Repentance, say to you: do not fear the devil. For I was sent...to be with you who repent with all your heart, and to strength you in the Faith. So believe in GOD, you who because of your sins have despaired of your life, and are adding to your sins are making your life hard, because if you turn to the LORD with all your heart, and practice righteousness the rest of the days of your life, and serve HIM rightly according to HIS Will, HE will heal your previous sins, and you will have power to conquer the devil's works. But do not fear the devil's threats at all, for he is as powerless as a dead man's sinews.
Listen to me, therefore, and fear HIM WHO is able to do everything, to save and destroy, and keep these commandments, and you will live to GOD. ...
...You will keep them...if your heart is pure to the LORD; indeed, all who cleanse their hearts of vain desires of this world will keep them, and will live to GOD... --The Shepherd of Hermas - Mandate 12 (mid second century AD)