Archpriest Sergiy Baranov
“Do not judge” (Mt. 7:1) as a part of the commandment “you shall love” (Mt. 22:39) theoretically is very simple. But as far as the practice, or, in other words, our real life is concerned, many questions arise in each specific case. And those questions may bring confusion. Thank God that it happens this way. Since primitivism is common only with fanatics. I use the notion “primitivism” instead of “simplicity” deliberately. Because I see the big difference between them. Simplicity comes from the Holy Spirit, while primitivism is the alternative of the evil one, who tries to reduce simplicity to absurdity.
The reasoning of fanatics is primitive. The mind of the saints is simple.
“Do not judge” is a short and seemingly simple phrase. But I ask myself: Then, what did the Holy Fathers do at the Ecumenical Councils? – They judged. One can reject it with a common phrase: “They judged the heresy, but justified the man”. Excuse me, but I cannot agree with it. They judged both the heresy of Arius and his proud stubbornness, which resulted in blasphemy. Moreover, they did not only judge, but they placed him under the ban, that is, punished him.
We received the commandment “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged” (Mt. 7:1) directly from Christ. At the same time, the topic of Our Lord’s conflict with the Judaic lawyers and their hypocrisy dominates the narration of the Holy Gospel. Christ judges them very obviously and passionately.
We may find contradiction and even confusion in this issue, if we will reflect primitively, but not wisely.
I trust in Christ, Who is the final authority for every Christian. And I try to understand Him in order to act wisely and in the way He wants me to do it.
During the first centuries of Christianity when the fundamental notions determining our faith were being formed, among the multitude of heresies there appeared the heresy of Manichaeus. The essence of their teaching was a denial of the value of the physical world and, in particular, of the human body which is the vehicle of soul. Therefore, they were indifferent to the fate of the world and neglected the process of history. They considered it irrelevant and non-spiritual. The Spirit is not interested in it. It is too earthly and alien for him. But what kind of spirit? The spirit of pride, which sets himself beyond the Earth. At the same time, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of impartiality, descends to any historical figure or event. He is always present everywhere in His entirety. He is unchangeable. It is a matter of people and our ability to live through any historical event correctly. I empathize, “to live”, to be a part of it, instead of staying out of it and considering it non-spiritual.
The difference between the Holy Fathers and the people who live through our history using their damaged mind is in the change of attitude to the transformation of this attitude. It is not in the denial, but in the change of attitude. The essence of this change is the presence of the Holy Spirit in your reasoning of any issue or event. The Holy Spirit gives a correct appraisal to everything. To speak through the Holy Spirit, you need to be in the Spirit, but not in the emotion of the moment. When we fight for truth, we need to realize that God’s truth may differ from the human truth.
At this moment I make a considerable note. The difference is not in the emotional contrast of the good and the evil, which is perceived partially, here and now. God thinks long-term and His actions will have a result in the future. Very often we do not understand it, and it argues with our limited “Self”.
The notion “the evil one” is the exact definition of the person who seizes the moment for upsetting the relations between God and a human. He shakes our faith in God and casts doubt upon our obedience to the providence of God with the help of our emotional goodness and a sense of justice. We end our relationship with an “unjust” God and wander away from Him to another, antagonistic, person. While this person is waiting for us, ready for understanding, reassuring and taking the place of God. If Our Lord is unjust, the antipode will talk about justice. If God is strict, the evil one will simulate love, trying to take the place of the real love. God is almighty, but He cannot be hypocritical. The satan can do many things, but he cannot become the truth. The truth, which is perceivable here and now, provided that you are in the Holy Spirit (as the result of your consistent, long and sincere life in repentance).
Otherwise, if you are not in the Spirit, you are in a state of excitement. And the evil one takes his part perfectly while performing God. The words “Christ” and “antichrist” differ only by the prefix, but they have the same root. Often we pay our attention to that “anti” and suppose that he will look like an antipode of Christ. In fact, the evil one will copy the visible part in detail. The difference will be in the deep and subtle matters, undistinguishable by a non-spiritual person. The antichrist will try to hide the prefix “anti” and lay an emphasis on the root “Christ”. He will try to imitate love, goodness, truth and justice. He has already succeeded in doing it in a post-Christian Europe, in a civilization where the Christianity with its values and unchangeable principles became outdated. The visible remnants of the architecture, history and art are still present. But the inner world is hollow and it is being filled with some other “culture” living off the Christian notions such as “do not judge” and “you shall love”. The mere word “love” became so relative that it is used to define all kinds of shame and a consent to it.
The philosophy of the “non-judgementalness” and the freedom of the individual have ardently rallied to the defense of the moral degradation. Moreover, at the same time, they fiercely turned against the traditional notions of the good and the evil and the purity and the truth of God. At this point we can see the prefix “anti”. The fundamental notions remain, but their sacred meaning is perverted. The word “love” remains, but being besmeared by what is alien to it. The word “freedom”, as a notion of the independence from a sin, is being twisted by permissiveness. The truth is determined by the momentary conjuncture. We are being deceived by the shape, and do not look inside.
There is a diptych at the gallery of Ilya Glazounov in Moscow called “Christ and the antichrist”. The two images are very hard to distinguish, as the outer shape is almost identical. I think the idea of the artist was to illustrate how much the antipode tries to imitate Christ outwardly.
Saying “outwardly”, I do not mean the appearance, but the words and ideas, which will not correspond to the essence of their content.
Nowadays the notion of God became relevant, as we do not know Who He is. God is Love. But this Love is perverted and besmeared. “Do not judge” has turned into permissiveness. “Thou shall not kill” has suddenly transformed into the defense of the Scandinavian maniac, who killed dozens of people and who is gaining the suits on the cold coffee against the prison administration.
Minor issues may be discussed, but the fundamental ones must remain unchanged. It is life-threatening. Moreover, it is dangerous for our spiritual life. Our earthly life will come to its end. While the space of the Spirit is eternal.
Once Solomon asked God for wisdom and gained all the rest together with it.
So, please, be wiser.
March 20, 2022