What are human victories? Nothing. If they do not defeat death, then all human victories are defeats. What are all the victories that so many kings and potentates of this world have achieved and are achieving? What are the European wars: the first, the second, third, tenth and fiftieth? What are they? They are defeats – the one defeat after another. They are definitely not victories. People are killing each other; they have resorted to war and murder as a means of defeating evil in this world.
Only God and the power of God can defeat evil in this world. Only God and the power of God can defeat the creator of every evil and every sin: the devil. God gave these divine powers to each one of us so that we too, as logical human beings - as logical human beings of God – can defeat evil; to defeat the devil with the power of God.
How? Behold: we have blessed fasting; we have holy prayers. What are they? They are the divine powers, which the Lord has left for us and has given to His Church, so that we - each and every one of us - can defeat the devil by ascribing victory to ourselves – by winning for our own benefit. Let us overcome sin - not for the others’ sake, but for our own sake.
Because you should know that your every sin is the devil’s warrior. Every sin that you love, that you keep inside you - openly or secretly, it makes no difference - is the devil’s spear; it is an invincible, terrible weapon. Invincible of course, for as long as you do not withdraw from it, and for as long as you do not feel that the sin you are committing in actuality is killing you; it makes you commit suicide, whatever that sin may be. Hate, for example, makes you suicidal. Anger, hard-heartedness, love of money... these things are all weapons: they are the devil’s terrible weapons - which he places in your hands and then you proceed to murder yourself.
The devil cannot force any one of us to sin. He can only suggest sin. He can only offer you the sword to kill yourself, but he cannot murder you. God does not give him this power; however if you accept that sword from the devil – that is, if you concede to avarice or anger, or jealousy or cunning, or slander, or theft etc,, then yes! - you will have taken the sword in your hands and you yourself will plunge it into your heart. The devil has no power whatsoever to compel man to sin; he only has the power to seduce man into sinning. He proposes sinning to you and to me. And what do you and I do? (What do we both do)? You and I either accept sin or we shun it. This means that we either kill ourselves by alienating our soul from God, or, by shunning sin, we can swiftly proceed towards Jesus Christ’s Resurrection – towards victory (towards the definitive, final victory) against sin, against death and against the devil.
That is why, dear brethren, the Lord had come into this world. That is the reason He left us everything; that is why He left us the weapon of holy fasting and of prayer: so that we can actually defeat the devil, who is the creator of sin and death. What does every sin do to me and to you? It obscures us. Sin is darkness. It spews forth darkness from within itself, and darkness then floods both your soul and mine, and also floods our conscience as well as our senses. Then we – as if dazed and in delirium within that darkness – become unaware of what we are doing. THAT is what sin is: Every sin sends our soul into a dazed state.
But that is precisely the reason our Lord came into this world: to give us the light, to give us the lit torch, to give us illumination that will expel that darkness. And that is what blessed fasting is: a huge floodlight that illuminates the path of our life. Fasting channels that divine illumination, from heaven and into our soul – provided of course it is true fasting, which implies refraining from every kind of evil, continence when we eat food, but also abstaining from every other evil and sin.