Monday, April 8, 2013

All for One, and One for All?

We were reminded in the sermon this past Sunday morning that one thing Christians are called to do is encourage one another to continue in unity.  On one hand this sounds easy: all we need do is believe God's Word.  In reality Satan opposes this at every turn by setting his schemes (Eph 6:11) and raising up fierce wolves (Acts 20:29) who will destroy the flock.

But not only must we guard against things which are open and manifest but also against those which deceive with the subtlety of clever fraud.  Now what is more clever, or what more subtle than that the enemy [Satan], detected and cast down by the coming of Christ, after light had come to the Gentiles, and the saving splendor had shone forth for the preservation of man,… devise a new fraud, under the very title of Christian name to deceive the incautious?  He invented heresies and schisms with which to overthrow the faith, to corrupt the truth, to divide unity.  Those whom he cannot hold in the blindness of the old way, he circumvents and deceives by the error of a new way.  He snatches men from the Church itself, and, while they seem to themselves to have already approached the light and to have escaped the night of the world, he again pours forth other shadows upon the unsuspecting, so that, although they do not stand with the Gospel of Christ and with the observation of Him and with the law, they call themselves Christians, and, although they walk in darkness, they think that they have light, while the adversary cajoles and deceives, who, as the Apostle says, transforms himself into an angel of light, and adorns his ministers as those of justice who offer night for day, death for salvation, despair under the offer of hope, perfidy* under the pretext of faith, antichrist under the name of Christ, so that while they tell plausible lies, they frustrate the truth by their subtlety. This happens, most beloved brethren, because there is no return to the source of truth, and the Head is not sought, and the doctrine of the heavenly Master is not kept.

* Latin perfidia, here translated 'perfidy,' is in Cyprian always the opposite of fides, 'faith'; hence, lack of faith.

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