Friday, January 22, 2010

Awakening Grace is not Enough

Most who have come to believe in Jesus Christ have been awakened by divine grace.  But this is not enough!
Saint Macarius the Great says the grace does not bind our will to forcefully make us act with goodness.  Grace that resides in a Christian does the opposite.  "Most want to possess the kingdom without labors and struggles, but this is impossible," he tells us.

Awakening grace gives us total freedom.  It discloses our human will given to man at the time of Creation, being made in God's image.  With the awakening to grace we now have to choose whether we agree or disagree with grace. This struggle is the beginning of the unification of the human will with the will of God.  With grace we have the desire to do good, but not the natural inclination to do so.  We must force ourselves based on this desire.  Grace confirms this desired goodness and will continue until we master ourselves in a life that is pleasing to God.

Many have a conversion experience and many become participators of heavenly grace and are wounded by heavenly love, but, because of the daily battles and struggles and the work involved and the various temptations from the evil one that they have not conquered, they do not persevere.  they are overwhelmed by various worldly passions, because everyone has something of this world that he loves and he does not detach himself completely from that attachment.
(Saint Macarius the Great, Homily 5, p 66)

Saint Theophan says tour normal actions follow a pattern: "Usually after a thought is born to do something, we lean toward that thought with our desire, then act to remove the obstacles and resolve to do it. It is just the same with the resolve to live the Christian life.
     1. Lean towards the Orthodox Christian way of life with desrie given though recept of grace.
     2. Remove the obstacles that stand in the way by developing our resolve to make changes.
     3. Commit to do so and act.

Theophan tells us that even though grace awakens the spirit within us "nevertheless its suggestion to change our life is only a thought."

Upon receiving this awakening grace we must hasten to act on it immediately!

Finally Saint Macarius the Great says,
Therefore, it is necessary that whoever wishes truly to please God and receive from him the heavenly grace of the Spirit and to grow and be perfected in the Holy Spirit should force himself to observe the commandments of God and to make his heart submissive, even if he is unwilling according to the saying, ‘Therefore, I observe all thy commandments and every false way I abhor’ (Ps 119:128). As one pushes and compels himself to persevere in prayer until he succeeds, similarly, if he wishes and forces and compels himself to practice all the virtues and develops a good habit, he thus asks and begs of the Lord always. And obtaining his request and receiving a taste for God and becoming a participator of the Holy Spirit, he makes the gift given to him to increase and to thrive as he rests in humility, in charity, and in meekness.
(Homily 19.7, The Fifty Spiritual Homilies, Maloney, p. 149)

The Apostle says, "Through many tribulations we must enter into the Kingdom of Heaven" (Acts 14:22).  The Lord says, "In your patience you will possess your souls." (Lk 21:19), and "In the world you will have tribulation." (Jn 16:33)


Reference: Path to Salvation, pp 154-156

2 comments:

  1. "Many have a conversion experience and many become participators of heavenly grace and are wounded by heavenly love, but, because of the daily battles and struggles and the work involved and the various temptations from the evil one that they have not conquered, they do not persevere. they are overwhelmed by various worldly passions, because everyone has something of this world that he loves and he does not detach himself completely from that attachment.
    (Saint Macarius the Great, Homily 5, p 66)"


    Interesting isn't it? Human nature hasn't changed in the slightest and St. Macarius the Great's advice is just as wise and useful today as it was when he put it down.

    Sometimes the temptations are great indeed. It's tough to make a habit of acting on every grace God gives out, especially when the force of habit, the currents in our culture and our fallen nature seem to make it seem like to act on grace is like paddling upstream in a swift current.


    Pary for me, that I may be able to humbly battle the sins and temptations in my own heart, and I will pray for you too.

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  2. Thanks for the Macarius quote.
    And yes to your thought "the currents in our culture and our fallen nature seem to make it seem like to act on grace is like paddling upstream in a swift current." The current is definitely swift.

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