by St. John Chrysostom
Original translation by Dr. David Ford
“He who is wrestling is still held fast in the contest; but it’s enough for him that he has not fallen. The brilliant victory will not be completely gained until we depart to the next life. Consider, for instance, the case of some evil lust. The wondrous thing would be not just to refuse to entertain it, but to quench it completely. But if this isn’t possible, even if we have to wrestle against it continually, if we depart in the midst of fighting that ongoing battle we will be victorious. This is different from wrestling matches in the arena, where if you don’t throw over your opponent, you don’t gain the victory. But in the spiritual warfare, as long as you are not thrown over, you gain the victory. . . .
“What then is the glorious victory? To trample the devil underfoot, as Paul did, by considering the affairs of this present life to be as nothing. So let us imitate Paul; and let us hasten to live above all worldly concerns, thereby giving the devil no place to lay hold on us. For wealth, possessions, and vainglory all give him a hold, an opportunity which he often seizes, though he also can be thwarted.
“But why, indeed, should there be a need to wrestle with him at all? Why should we engage him at all? For one who’s engaged in a wrestling match is not certain of victory; he may be overcome and defeated. But the one who has trampled the devil underfoot is certain of victory.
“So, then, let us trample underfoot the power of the devil! Let us trample under foot our sins, our attachment to worldly things, our anger, lust, boasting, all the passions; so that when we depart to the next life, we will not be accused of betraying the power that God gave us. And thus we will obtain the future blessings.”
From his Homily 22 on Ephesians