St. John Chrysostom on Departing from Iniquity

Icon of St. John Chrysostom“Let  every one,” he says, “that nameth the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” [2 Timothy 2:19]

These are the distinguishing marks of the foundation. As a foundation is shown to be firm, and as letters are inscribed upon a stone that the letters may be significant. But these letters are shown by works, “Having,” he says, “this seal” fixed thereon, “Let every one that nameth the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” Thus if any one is unrighteous, he is not of the foundation. So that this too is of the seal, not to do iniquity.

Moral. Let us not therefore put off from us the royal seal and token, that we may not be of those who are not sealed, that we may not be unsound, that we may be firmly grounded, that we may be of the foundation, and not carried to and fro. This marks them that are of God, that they depart from iniquity. For how can any one be of God Who is just, if he does iniquity, if by his works he opposes Him, if he insults Him by his misdeeds? Again we are speaking against injustice, and again we have many that are hostile to us.

For this affection, like a tyrant, has seized upon the souls of all, and, what is worse, not by necessity nor violence, but by persuasion and gentle insinuation, and they are grateful for their slavery.

And this is indeed the misery; for if they were held by constraint and not by love, they would soon depart. And whence is it, that a thing which is most bitter, appears to be sweet? Whence is it that righteousness, which is a most sweet thing, becomes bitter? It is the fault of our senses. Thus some have thought honey bitter, and have taken with pleasure other things that were noxious. And the cause is not in the nature of things, but in the perverseness of the sufferers.

The judging faculty of the soul is disordered. Just as a balance, if its beam be un-steady, moves round, and does not show accurately the weight of things placed in it; so the soul, if it has not the beam of its own thoughts fixed, and firmly riveted to the law of God, being carried round and drawn down, will not be able to judge aright of actions.

+ St. John Chrystostom, Homily V, Homilies on TimothyBook Complete Church Father Series

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