What Does It Mean to Crucify One’s Flesh with Affections and Lusts?

Apostle Paul says, And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts (Gal. 5:24).

What does it mean?

Saint Martinian became an ascetic and withdrew into the desert when he was 18. Having spent twenty-five years in complete isolation, he faced the following temptation of the devil. There was a certain harlot who put on a beggar’s clothes and climbed the mountain on top of which Saint Martinian lived. She came to the saint’s cell at night weeping and sobbing and asked the saint to rescue her from wild beasts. The unsuspecting Martinian let her into his cell. He asked the fancy woman, “Who are you and why did you come here?” The harlot replied, “I hate you and all monks. I hate the life of abstinence, so I’ve come to make you fall prey to sin.” The holy monk was terrified. He didn’t know what to do; soon he recovered from the shock and defeated the devil. He collected a lot of brushwood, set it on fire, and while the fire was kindling, he stepped into it and said to himself, “You poor Martinian! Well, what do you do now? If you can stand hellfire, commit the sin.” The saint was severely burned by fire. He finally stepped out of the fire and convinced the fearful harlot to become a nun. When his burns were cured, he sailed to an island where he spent ten years and had the same temptation again. A girl was shipwrecked and the sea threw her on the island where the saint lived. The saint gave her a shelter but, afraid of temptation, he jumped into the sea, exclaiming, “You don’t put hay near the fire.” When he reached dry land, he traveled across many cities and countries, constantly repeating the following words, “Run, Martinian, to not be devoured by the enemy!” When he reached Athens, he died and was buried by a bishop in the presence of many people.

Hence, that’s what it means to crucify one’s flesh with its affections and lusts. It isn’t enough just to refrain from passions and lusts. One has to struggle with them selflessly. Martinian saw the fire and subjected himself to earthly fire in order to rescue himself from the hellfire. Martinian saw water and dived into it, so as not to be consumed by sins. His flesh was crucified; the devil was defeated and put to shame. O brethren, let us imitate him and crucify our flesh. Is it difficult? Yes, it undoubtedly is. But then, let us remember that the reward for self-crucifixion is great, too. The Lord says, To him that overcometh (that is, crucifies his flesh) will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. (Rev. 3:21). Amen.

Translated by The Catalog of Good Deeds

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