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    The Life of Repentance
    and Purity
    His Holiness Pope Shenouda III

    The separation between light and darkness.*
    If you have repented and the light of God has entered
    your heart: Then to preserve your repentance, separate
    yourself from every work of darkness. It is a principle that
    God set for us from the beginning, which the book of Genesis
    narrates by saying: "And God saw the light, that it was good;
    and God divided the light from the darkness" (Gen 1: 4). The
    principle continued in the New Testament where it says: "What
    communion has light with darkness?" (2 Cor 6:14). It is not
    possible for a spiritual person to combine between the two in his
    life. That is why everyone who walks in the path of God:
    It is inevitable that he separates himself from all
    causes of sin and stumbling.
    This is what God wanted from the beginning of creation.
    However, the principle was broken and caused sin. The first
    breaking of this principle was when Eve sat with the serpent
    (Gen 3), and we saw how darkness suppressed the light. The
    Bible talks to us about another dangerous break of this
    principle, where it narrates preceding the flood that: "the sons
    of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and
    they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose" (Gen 6:
    2). The result was that man's evil increased and God was
    obliged to purify the earth from corruption by the flood. So,
    darkness for a second time suppressed the light.

    * From a lecture that I gave at the great Cathedral on Friday 31/1/1976.
    God returned and separated between light and
    darkness by means of the ark.
    He chose a holy group which was Noah and his family, and he
    separated them from the evil world, so that He would have a
    righteous group remaining, not being affected by the corruption
    of the world. By time, as corruption entered into Noah's
    children, God chose Abram and separated him from the evil
    world and said to him: "Get out of your country, from your
    kindred and from your father's house, to a land that I will show
    you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you ... and you
    shall be a blessing" (Gen 12:1-2). As if God says to Abram
    His servant:
    `Leave the place of sin, to preserve the purity of your
    heart, far away from evil.
    The light which is in you must be separated from the darkness
    that is in them'. In the same way, the Lord ordered His people
    not to make a covenant with the people of the earth, and not to
    be married to them (Ex 34:15-16). He also prohibited them
    from the strange foreign women (Prov 2: 16). God wants His
    children to keep away from every evil company (Ps 1).
    The apostle ordered them not to eat or keep
    company with sinners (1 Cor 5:11). Also to put away from
    themselves that wicked person. In the same way Saint John the
    beloved said: "If anyone comes to you and does not bring this
    doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for
    he who greets him shares in his evil deeds" (2 John 10-11).
    Separation must be from sin and sinners, both in
    conduct and knowledge.
    If external influences made Samson, David and Solomon fall,
    then the weak should be more cautious and keep away for this
    is better for them. Similarly, the church in the apostolic era, and
    in the first four centuries of Christianity in particular, cast out
    sinners from the church, and all the believers remained as a holy
    group, separated from evil and the ungodly. As happened in the
    story of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5), and with the sinner of
    Corinth (1 Cor 5: 5).
    The first isolation in which man is isolated from
    evil, is in baptism.
    Where he finds himself isolated from the devil with all his
    wicked works and repulsive evils, and from all his soldiers,
    tricks and authority. As he is isolated from the devil, he is also
    isolated from the old man who is buried in baptism, so that a
    new man is born in the image of God. He places in front of him,
    all of his life, to live separate from sin and sinners. In case a
    person asks: How can we do this?
    If you cannot be separated from sinners by
    location, then be separated from them practically. Be
    separated from them by thought, conduct and by way of
    You are not capable of keeping away from the company of all
    sinners in the world, or else you would have to go out of the
    world as Saint Paul the apostle said (1 Cor 5:10). Let your
    dealings with them be within the limits of necessity only. Let
    your thoughts be separated from their thoughts, your conduct
    different from their conducts, your life different from their lives.
    Your expressions also different from their expressions, as the
    Bible says: "your speech betrays you" (Matt 26: 73).
    That is why Saint John the apostle says: "The
    children of God . . . are manifest" (1 John 3:10).
    If they sit with the people of the world, the separation entirely
    appears: the separation is not by location, but in the type of life,
    in conduct, even in their appearance, features, looks and
    actions. Their spirit distinguishes them. Here you see practically
    how God has separated between light and darkness.
    I wish that this separation is without pride.
    We do not want the man of God who lives the life of
    repentance, separated from sinners, to be separated because of
    arrogance, loftiness and pride, as if he is better than them. Just
    like the Pharisees and Scribes used to do, blaming Christ for
    sitting with tax collectors and sinners.
    We mean, there should be no communion with them
    in any sinful work.
    There should be no conformity to sinners, or copying of habits,
    or civility on account of truth. The apostle says: "do not be
    conformed to this world" (Rom 12:2). That is, do not look like
    them. The repentant does not follow sinners in their sins. At the
    same time he does not judge them, but has compassion upon
    them, and prays for the sake of their salvation. He says because
    of his lack of mixing with them:
    `For the sake of my weakness, I cannot overcome
    this mixing.
    I keep away, because I am easily influenced and attracted. The
    external factors can overcome my will. That is why keeping
    away for me is safer, and escaping is more suitable. The matter
    is not to do with loftiness, because I will not forget my recent
    In this way he differs from the position of the
    pastors, who visit sinners and check up on them.
    They do this in order to attract them to repentance, and
    reconcile them with God. On the condition that the pastors at
    such moments, are alert, not losing their spiritual reverence, and
    not merging with the sinners in their amusements and
    indulgence. But they are witnesses to the truth, ambassadors of
    the Lord, and a good example in front of these people. The
    Lord Jesus used to sit at the tables of tax collectors and enter
    their homes, in order to attract them to repentance, and raise
    their self esteem. So that they realise that they have a share in
    Him, and that He is not only for the righteous.
    The repentant says however: `I am not in the same
    level as pastors, nor have the same power as Christ. I am
    weaker than this company, so I will keep away from it.
    I have not yet reached the level of those who guide another and
    lead him to repentance, for I am still in need of someone to
    guide me and confirm me in my repentance'. That is why he
    isolates himself from sinners, preserving the contrition of his
    heart. He does not despise any of them. He does not see within
    himself that he is a light which separated from darkness. For this
    mere distinction in his mind would not agree with the feelings of
    In his heart he knows those of whom it was said
    that they were light.
    The righteous person, who is light, or amongst those of whom
    the Lord said: "You are the light of the world" (Matt 5:14). If
    this person is in any place, darkness disappears because of his
    light. Just like if a lamp is placed in a dark place, its darkness is
    dispersed and it becomes luminous. The same thing happens
    with the presence of the righteous in any place they stay in, light
    spreads in it and darkness disappears.
    Similarly those saints, who because of their
    spiritual reverence, darkness cannot find an opportunity
    for itself in their presence.
    Sinners are shy from them and from their dignity and holiness.
    No one dares in their presence to act in a disgusting way, or say
    a bad word. But he is ashamed of himself and from his conduct.
    The people present feel that a spiritual atmosphere has prevailed
    on the place, by the presence of one of these righteous people in
    it. If there was sinful talk before their entrance, it stops and
    everyone is quiet and darkness disappears when they enter. No
    one can sin in their presence.
    Are you the same? Have you become light after
    your repentance?
    Have you become even a small candle, giving dim light, but in
    any case dispersing darkness? If you have not become such a
    light, then be very cautious of darkness. Remember at all times
    the saying of the Lord: "Let your waist be girded and your
    lamps burning" (Luke 12:35).
    Let your light firstly be for your sake.
    For the sake of you seeing well, and having the spiritual insight
    to distinguish God's path and will. Like one of the wise virgins
    (Matt 25), who had oil in their lamps, so they were alight and
    were worthy to enter with the bridegroom.
    With these burning lamps, reveal the darkness and
    keep away from it.
    For the sake of preserving your meekness, take darkness in its
    subjective meaning and not in its personal meaning. Take it in
    the meaning of sin with all its images, and separate yourself
    from it.
    Separate yourself from every evil thought and desire.
    In order to be able in your repentance to love the Lord your
    God with all your heart and with all your thought according to
    the commandment (Deut 6:5). How can love be with all the
    heart, if the heart is not separated from every sinful feeling, and
    if it mixes with worldly thoughts and desires? Every time you
    are fought in your repentance by a thought from the matters of
    the world and its love and pleasures, remember the saying of the
    "Do not love the world or the things in the world"
    (1 John 2:15). And his saying: "If anyone loves the world, the
    love of the Father is not in him", and "the world is passing
    away, and the lust of it" (1 John 2:15-17). In order to keep
    away from the love of the world, keep away from thinking
    about it and its desires. It is not possible for you presently to be
    separated from it by location, or be separated from it by
    thoughts and feelings. Say to the Lord as we say in the Fraction
    prayer in the Divine Liturgy:
    `Every thought that does not please Your goodness,
    let it be taken away from us'.
    Be very precise and quick in separating yourself from sinful
    thoughts. For sin can enter into the heart of man, even from a
    simple hole and keep widening a place inside until it destroys it.
    Sit with yourself, examine it and ask. Is there still within me any
    mixing with the causes of sin, and with its thoughts and
    feelings? If you find any of these things in you, reject and
    dismiss them and say to them: `God has separated between
    light and darkness'.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:33
    Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”

    can i just say... we are all sinners... and if we had to keep away from sinners then who is left in this earth to be friends with...
    i think the idea is to be wise... if u see someone that is easily lead astray from Our Lord Jesus Christ, then perhaps don't run to the first opportunity to be close to them... instead pray for them in silence.

    if their sin effects you in any way then keep ur distance...

    dont forget sometimes God puts u in ppls lives to set a good example for them. so if ur close frnds are watching inappropriate things... dont join them and make a strong stand against it.

    if it happens more then once... then maybe God is telling u to keep ur distance a little... but always keep them in ur prayers.
  • Thanks for your reply
  • I still am not very sure of this verse..

    It seems we really should not sit with unrepentant sinners in the church.. they hear many sermons no offense.. but they still act how they were as if they heard no sermon.. but with Gods grace maybe they will change.. I was once unrepentant too.. but maybe until then we should not even eat with them to make them ashamed or something..


    But for those who keep falling into a certain sin out of weakness I think its okay to sit with them.. but some fall into a sin often because they do not care.. they want to sin and they may think its freedom

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