IT WAS THE INFLUENCE OF HIS PIOUS SISTER MACRINA
THAT MADE HIM CONFIRM HIS EARLIER INCLINATION
TO THE ASCETIC LIFE
Basil was born of a distinguished family of Caesarea, the capital of Cappadocia, which was a province of Asia Minor of special importance in the 4th century due to its position on the military road between Constantinople and Antioch. The family had been Christian since the days of the persecutions of Christians, which ended early in the 4th century. One of Basil's uncles was a bishop, as later were two of his brothers Gregory and Peter of Sebaste. He received a literary education, however, which would have fitted him to follow in his father's footsteps as lawyer and orator. He studied at Caesarea and Constantinople and, finally, at Athens, where he developed his friendship with St. Gregory of Nazianzus. On returning home he began a secular career, but the influence of his pious sister Macrina, later a nun and abbess, confirmed his earlier inclination to the ascetic life. With a group of friends, he established a monastic settlement on the family estate at Annesi in Pontus.
In 357 he made an extensive tour of the monasteries of Egypt, and in 360 he assisted the Cappadocian bishops at a synod at Constantinople. He had been distressed by the general acceptance of the Arian Creed of the Council of Ariminum the previous year and especially by the fact that his own bishop, Dianius of Caesarea, had supported it. Shortly before the death of Dianius (362), Basil was reconciled to him and later was ordained priest to assist Dianius's successor, the new convert Eusebius. Basil's abilities and prestige, as well as Eusebius's dislike of asceticism, led to tension between them, and Basil withdrew to Annesi.
In 365 he was called back to Caesarea, when the church was threatened by the Arian emperor Valens. His theological and ecclesiastical policy thereafter aimed to unite against Arianism the former semi-Arians and the supporters of Nicaea under the formula " three persons" (hypostases) in one substance (ousia)," thus preserving both unity and the necessary distinctions in the theological concept of the Godhead. On Eusebius's death in 370, Basil became his successor, although he was opposed by some of the other bishops in the province.
As bishop of Caesarea, Basil was metropolitan (ecclesiastical primate of a province) of Cappadocia, and his own diocese covered the great estates of eastern Cappadocia, where he was assisted by a number of "country bishops" (chorepiscopi). He also founded charitable institutions to aid the poor, the ill, and travelers. When Valens passed through Caesarea.
In 371, Basil dramatically defied his demand for submission. But in 372 Valens divided the province, and Basil considered this a personal attack, since Anthimus of Tyana thus became metropolitan for the cities of western Cappadocia. Basil countered by installing supporters in some of the border towns St. Gregory of Nazianzus at Sasima and his own brother St. Gregory at Nyssa. This tactic was only partially successful, but Basil escaped the attacks that Valens launched on orthodox bishops elsewhere. Meanwhile, Basil tried to secure general support for the former semi-Arian St. Meletius as bishop of Antioch (one of the five major patriarchates of the early church) against Paulinus, the leader of the strict Nicene minority, since he feared that the extreme Nicenes at this point were lapsing into Sabellianism, a heresy exaggerating the oneness of God. During Basil's lifetime, however, this was prevented by the recognition of Paulinus by the bishops of Alexandria and in spite of a series of negotiations after 375 by Pope Damascus I. Basil's health was poor, perhaps because of the rigors of his ascetic life. He died soon after Valens's death in the Battle of Adrianoples had opened the way for the victory of Basil's cause. Vigorous and firm and sure of his own position, in his own time he seems to have been admired rather than loved, even by his intimates. But he was widely mourned and was soon numbered among the saints.
"Through the Holy Spirit comes our restoration to paradise, our ascension into the kingdom of heaven, our return to the adoption of sons, our liberty to call God our Father, our being made partakers of the grace of Christ, our being called children of light, our sharing in eternal glory, and, in a word, our being brought into a state of all "fullness of blessing," both in this world and in the world to come, of all the good gifts that are in store for us, by promise hereof, through faith, beholding the reflection of their grace as though they were already present, we await the full enjoyment."
"The good God has given mankind a share in His own Image, that is, in our Lord Jesus Christ, and has made even themselves after the same Image and Likeness. Why? Simply in order that through this gift of God-likeness in themselves they may be able to perceive the Image Absolute, that is the Word Himself, and through Him to apprehend the Father; which knowledge of their Maker is for men the only really happy and blessed life."
According to the Bible's teachings, marriage is an eternal vocation of the kingdom. Christ is the center of the marriage. A holy marriage combines the spirit and the body of a man and a woman in a holy love and a holy relationship that is exemplary of the church's joining to Christ. Jesus said of marriage that
"a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate"
(Mark 10:7- 9). when two Christians are united in Christ, their goal is to grow in Christlikeness throughout the life of their marriage. A husband and a wife are called by the Holy Spirit not only to live together but also to share their Christian life together so that each, with the aid of the other, may grow closer to God and become the persons they are meant to be.
What God wants for a married couple is true love and true intimacy, i.e. to be as close as physically and spiritually possible to a person who you're going to be with for the rest of your life. When a man and woman have loved each other so much that they have worked long and hard at a relationship that has lead to marriage, the marriage bed is where they can physically and spiritually consume each other in love, not lust.
Godly marriage is one of the powerful weapons God's people have. That is why one of the enemy's main goals is to destroy God's perfect plan to His people to have this holy relationship and not realizing their full potential from marriage. He deceived them by trying to imitate God's love and made it into lust.
Lust is the bear trap of the soul, especially the part of the soul that longs for romantic worldly love. But the love that God is calling married couple to love each other with, is giving oneself to the other and not to lust. The husband is told to love his wife "as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her" (Eph 5:25). Paul wrote "let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband" (Eph 5:33). Satan has succeeded in deceiving Christian married couples and let them direct their desires, their wills, and their love towards the pleasures that the spirit of lust gives. When you are directed to your partner with lust, you will focus on pleasing yourself and fulfilling your selfish desires with no regard to your partner. This lustful relationship will kill the spirit of the holy love that combined you together and made you one. The author of Hebrews wrote "Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous" (Heb 13:4). So it is important that married couples keep their minds pure and focus on loving each other so that the intimacy that God intended can be fully realized. They have to take out all the lusty experiences and never apply it on their marriage, keep themselves away from all worldly and lusty temptations and evil experiences and keep their bodies and their minds pure, and to trust God and seek him more than they sought their own will. For God's will for your life is your sanctification; "For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor" (1Thess4:3-4). Christian marriage is about selflessness and is marked by holy living. Also married couples must remember this commandment "because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband" (1 Cor 7:2) and that is what we call "holy matrimony." So those who want to live a sacred marriage, they have to dive into loving each other, abandon their selfishness, and not to seek the pleasure of lust in itself.
when a christian has a relationship with Jesus and is filled with the love of the Holy Spirit, when he gets married, he will be able to love his wife with the same power of love that Jesus loved the church with. And this deep and sincere love towards his wife will bring spiritual and physical joy. This joy will deepen the love and unity for each other. This is the love of God and the Joy of the Holy Spirit. It makes the body as well as the spirit of the married couple rejoice in holiness and purity.
God has created man on His image and likeness. His will towards man is to give him His life, His love, and His divine power. St Athanasius the Great said "The Son of God came in flesh & been incarnated in order for man to be a partaker of His divine nature". Because of God's holy and glorious aim of creating man on His likeness, satan the fallen angel, envied man. "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." (2peter 1:2-4). Satan envied man's position trying all the time to deceive man and take him from his creator. His will towards man is to kill, slaughter, and steel, as he is a murderer from the beginning "he was a murderer from the beginning, and does no stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him" (John. 8:44) .
The devil starts to wage a fierce war with man when he decides and chooses to surrender his soul and body to his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. When man chooses to receive the Holy spirit and be united with Him to give him the power over all evil desires and works, then starts the war with the enemy. Only by the power of the Holy Spirit can man abolishe all the bad spirits and all the evil bondages that Satan had tied him with. It is really a battlefield where one has to conquer the other and be victorious, either the divine & holy power conquer and defeat the unclean and evil spirit or vise versa. So it is man's decision and choice. "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day…" (Ephesians. 6:10-13).
"We have not only been endued with the power of the Holy Spirit to give us boldness, wisdom and courage to proclaim the gospel of salvation, but also to enable us to be victorious in the struggle against the enemy of our souls" (Acts 1:8).
This is what we call the spiritual warfare. Satan's main goal is to enslave man's mind and will to him through lies and deception. If man get convinced or intimidated through one of satan's forms of attack, he will have a definite advantage. His attacks are more deceptive than they appear. Being manifested in our own thoughts makes them very personal. We think that this is our thoughts and our will and we are used to letting our thoughts lead us. As far as satan is allowed to go deep into our entity, he relentlessly pursues his objectives.
In the spiritual battlefield, all demonic powers commence their vicious attacks against man. In every battle the devil tries a different strategy and role. His main goal from every battle he wages is the spiritual control of the mind and body. Paul says, "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not walk [according to] the flesh: For the weapons of our warfare are not [fleshly], but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (2Cor. 10:3). Apart from his spiritual attacks, he also uses other methods to achieve his purpose. He ruins many people's lives by being enslaved to liquor, smoking, drugs, sexual immoralities and various other addictions. He induces many problems and obstacles in people's lives to disappoint and discourage them to let them abandon their efforts for the Lord. He is man's enemy who has strongholds in his life that arise from evil and misguided thoughts. "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion walks about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist, steadfast in the faith" (1Pet. 5:8-9).
We must know and realize that if there is demonic activity in our lives, it is there because some sort of sin claim has been given to Satan through personal consent. He always works on the foundation of the sins of the flesh. Wrong ideas and evil intentions may emerge from our own fleshly nature and subconscious mind. "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death" (James 1:14-15). Remember that the old man i.e. your old, sinful nature is completely corrupted by deceitful lusts (Ephesians 4:22).
We must be spiritual warriors who are sober and alert to every activity of the enemy and his wicked plan in our lives. A spiritual fighter knows his inheritance in Christ. He knows God's promises and is not easy prey to the lies and deceptions of the enemy. He knows that he is fighting a liar and the father of lies. Therefore, the warrior always seeks to strengthen himself by thoroughly knowledgeable and perceivable of God's truth which he wears like armor for protection. Never accepting his deceptive ways and thoughts, but constantly rejecting and resisting the evil one through a steadfast faith in the Lord Jesus. "For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest you be wearied and faint in your minds" (Heb. 12:3).
A spiritual warrior takes it very seriously the Lord's words about the enemy who is roaring like a lion wants to devour a prey and that he is a murderer from the beginning, he came to slaughter and to kill. So the warrior knows that he must bring discipline to his thought, life and to his actions. And that if he allows these areas to be contaminated, he will not be powerful enough to resist the enemy. He takes sin very seriously, because he knows that sin will separate him from his protector and shield and this separation will give the enemy an advantage to attack and win the battle over him. Sin must be stopped and crucified by the help of the Holy Spirit. If this not be done, the enemy of our souls will gain a large measure of control over us by establishing wicked and uncontrolled thoughts or desires in our hearts and minds.
What we must do is learn to test our thoughts that we receive with the Word of God, and never accept the devil's ideas, thoughts or emotions. We must surrender the old, sinful nature, i.e. the flesh, to be crucified and ever to be kept in that position: "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me" (Luke 9:23). Paul's advice to the Ephesians: "...that ye put off concerning the former [conduct] the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Ephesians 4:22-24).
So we must confess sin and repent it. Not yield to temptations, but submit ourself to the Lord and resist the devil. The Lord Jesus will help us in the Holy Spirit to have power over sin and overcome it because He Himself experienced and overcame temptations: "For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to [rescue] them who are tempted… For we have not a High Priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 2:18; 4:15-16)
VI - DISCUSSION CONCERNING PUBLIC WORSHIP
1- THE VEILING OF WOMEN
< " I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God." "Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonor his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonor her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved."
" For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since" he is the image and the glory of God; but woman is the glory of man."
" Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the lord. For as the woman was from man, even so the man also is through the woman; but all things are from God."
2- INSTRUCTIONS ABOUT THE LORD'S SUPPER
The Corinthians were misbehaving in preparation for taking communion, one of the two sacraments Jesus told the church to observe. They would have a get-together they called a love feast before they shared the lord's supper. But they treated it like an opportunity to pig out and get drunk and carry those attitudes into sharing communion. Paul wasn't happy with this. He rebuked them, reminding them of what Jesus had meant when He broke the bread and poured the wine and warning them to take a good, hard look at themselves before partaking of those elements.
"Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse."
" For first of all, when you come together as a church," I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part, I believe it."
"Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord's supper. For in eating each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk."
"What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing"
"For I received from the Lord that which I also deliverd to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed and took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said" Tke, eat; this is my body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of me."
" In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying," This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in rememberance of Me."
" For as often as yu eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes."
"Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord."
" For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgement to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep."
CHAPTER 12 :1-31
The Corinthians also needed clarification about the proper use of spiritual gifts in the public assembly. Paul discussed the diversity of spiritual gifts and ministries in the body of Christ, explaining how they are governed by the Holy Spirit and meant to build up the body, not set individuals apart as special or talented. The manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.
C- THE USE OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS
1- THE VARIETIES OF GIFTS (CHAPTER 12:1-11)
" Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant."
" Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirt of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. There are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all."
" For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit. To another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues."
2- THE PURPOSE OF GIFTS: UNITY IN DIVERSITY
Spiritual gifts are not supposed to be the focus of worship, nor are they to be ignored or abused. There is a wonderful range of gifts and impressive variety of people to manifest them for God's glory and the church's benefits. Paul stated the purpose of gifts. Above all, the balance of roles and gifts was, and is, to be dictated by love- by what Paul called " a more excellent way".
"For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ."
"For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and have all been made to drink into one Spirit."
" if the foot would say, because I am not a hand, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body?"
" But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be?"
" But now indeed there are many members, yet one body."
" Those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor, and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need." " And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it."
" And God has apionted these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues."
3- THE SUPREMACY OF LOVE OVER GIFTS,
Chapter thirteen is well-known for Paul's inspiring and challenging exposition of Christian love. it's not self, but others-oriented, a reflection of God's love for us in Christ. Paul's point is that anything you can do or accomplish is empty without love as a motivating force and ultimate objective. The striving to love is what the church is all about. That is why Paul said "abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become as sounding brass or a changing cymbal."
" And though I have the gift of prophecy, snd understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing."
" love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, doe not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails."
" And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love."
4- THE SUPERIORITY OF PROPHECY OVER TONGUES
"Pursue love, and desire spritual gifts, but especiallt that you may prophesy."
" For he who speaks in a tongue doe not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.but he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men."
" He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. I wish you all spoke tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification."
5- THE REGULATIONS FOR THE USE OF GIFTS
" Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification."
" If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn and let one interpret."
"Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. For you can all prophecy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged."
" For God is not the author of confussion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints."
" Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as l the law always says. But if they want to learn something let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church."
Continuation of the study in the next edition