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21 - CHASTITY: THE STRUGGLE FOR CHASTITY

THE STRUGGLE FOR CHASTITY:

Like any other virtue, prayer should be the first mainstay of the struggle to attain chastity. Show God that you really desire chastity and that you are not paying Him lip service. You should develop hatred for impurity, because you cannot fool God by asking Him to give you purity while deep inside you enjoy sin.
But, what if you cannot reach this stage? Some young people come to me saying, I really want to repent, but I cannot bring myself to hating sin. Well, go to God honestly and tell Him about your predicament. Say with the Psalmist “Create in me a clean heart O God.” The Prayer of the Oblations, which is said in the Morning offering of Incense is a beautiful prayer asking God to reward those who have offered unto God. But it also asks God to reward “those who desire to offer but have none.” Take your cue from this prayer, throw yourself at the feet of the Saviour and say to Him, “Lord, I am one of those who desire to offer but have none. I wish I could offer a true desire for purity but, I am unable to.”
Saint Augustin was once in this stage, he used to pray saying, “God, I want to repent but not now for I have not had my fill of pleasures!” God caught up with Saint Augustin, and the man that lived in sin for 30 years, became a bishop!
Beware of making vows of chastity to God, or promising Him anything!Because you will be promising something you have no control over in the first place.
Next to prayer, you have to put a sincere effort in the fight against impurity. It does not make any sense to pray to God to give you purity while you watch pornography, or give in to evil thoughts without attempting to arrest them.
Do not look for immediate results for your “efforts” for this is selfrighteousness.
Only God knows your progress. Fight as much as it is in your power without worrying about the end result. God will mark you for effort and not for results. God knows that you are no match for the devil, and does not expect you to prevail over him. God just wants you to fight courageously even if you lose in the end.
Abbot Theophan the Recluse gives a nice analogy for this. He says, “If a soldier is surrounded by his enemies and goes on fighting until he is seriously wounded in the battle, he is decorated as a hero. But if he sees the enemy around him and raises the white flag and surrenders, he is considered a traitor and is punished accordingly.”
Actually, you may feel that you have lost, but God will count this as a victory. There is a nice story to illustrate this from the “Life of Antony” written by Saint Athanasius. Saint Antony was tempted by the devil in so many ways, he appeared to him in the shape of beasts to frighten him, in the shape of women or gold to tempt him, but St. Antony resisted. Finally, the devil appeared to him in his ugly shape and started beating him up until he lost consciousness. When his disciple found him in this state, he carried him and put him in the church of the nearest village. When Saint Antony regained consciousness, he looked up and saw the ceiling of the church open and the Lord Jesus appeared to him sitting on the throne of His glory. Saint Anthony felt sorry for himself and said to the Lord, “Where have you been Lord when the devil was beating me up?” The Lord answered him, “I was right beside you Antony, but you were doing so well that I decided not to intervene so that you don’t lose your reward!”
You see, Saint Antony saw defeat in the beating that the devil gave him but the Lord saw in it a victory worthy of a reward. The moral of the story is this, just fight, don’t worry about the results of the fight.

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