Friday, May 31, 2019

Have you chosen a God pleasing life for your salvation?

If so, your conscience will immediacy demand that your whole being abide by all of God's commandments, whether large or small. If not, you will not feel this obligation or desire and pick only those commandments that you agree with or find easy to live by. The challenge is have His commandments in your heart and not be some outward set of standards.
In my heart have I hid Thy sayings that I might not sin against thee.Psalm 118:11
Psalmist David is saying that the commandments are not some kind of exterior force compelling him, but that this force is inside him. He had taken them to his heart and loves them. Therefore he can only think of actions according to his heart and do them.

Saint Theophan says,
When commandments are in the heart, they are fulfilled with diligence, and in the most beautiful and attractive way.
The reality is for most of us we have not yet made this full commitment to live a God pleasing life. 

Saint Theophan says further,
The commandments say: be humble, meek; love truth; be pure, peaceful, patient, etc; yet the heart is sometimes proud and vain, at other times angry and hateful; at other occasions it becomes passionate and filled with desires; at other times it squabbles and grumbles, and so on.... 
As long as this is our condition we cannot say the commandments are hidden in our heart and it indicates that we have not committed to a God pleasing life.

What should we do in this case? Saint Theophan offers the following advice:
At first one should act in spite of the heart, only at the insistence of the conscience, through the strength of a reasonable will supported by God’s Grace, bending oneself, so to speak, to the task of the commandments, as a heated rod is bent into the shape that is needed... The more efforts and experience gained in fulfilling the commitments, the more they enter into the heart, until they all find themselves a dwelling place there.
Saint Theophan says we need God’s grace, but with only our efforts and good deeds, grace will not help us change the nature of our heart. He says it will leave it as it is “with all its passionate tastes and attractions, even though a person may have been baptized and partakes of other Sacraments.
The law of spiritual life dictates that what a person does not struggle for will not be given by God's grace, although with his own efforts alone he will not succeed in anything.
Like it says in the Psalm, it is only when the commandments are hidden in the heart, filling its contents, that the heart and conscience will work together so one can live a God pleasing life.

Reference: Psalm 118: A commentary by Saint Theophan the Recluse, pp 36-39

Ten Points for an Orthodox Way of Life

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