Monday, February 17, 2020

Are You a Good Person? Beware!

Thinking of oneself as a good person can lead to deception. If your idea of being good is about following the rules given to you through your church or society, even if you say you believe in Jesus Christ, you may be on the wrong path. How can this be? It depends on the source of you inner disposition. If you are adhering to an orderly life through your own efforts then you are most likely in deception. To live a Christian life cannot be based on your efforts alone. Your choices must be based on your relationship with God, on the zeal and divine grace you receive from Him. There must be the sense in every act that you are cooperating with His will. Salvation cannot be gained through your own efforts.

Saint Theophan says,
This good order in one's conduct more than anything else can lead one into deception. Its true significance depends upon one's inward disposition, where it is possible that there are significant deviations from real righteousness in one’s righteous deeds. Thus, while refraining outwardly from sinful deeds, one may have an attraction for them or a delight from them in one's heart; so also, doing righteous deeds ourwardly, one's heart may not be in them. Only true zeal both wishes to do good in all fulness and purity, and persecutes sin in its smallest forms. it seeks the good as its daily bread, and with sin it fights as with a mortal enemy.
Our self-centerness blocks us from God and we are blind to the grace that God gives us. While our efforts to do good help us survive in the physical world and give us the necessary discipline needed for a more spiritual life, they are not sufficient when done only out of our own will. They are also most likely tinged with an underling sinfulness that is hidden. We need to give priority to developing a deep faith that is based on a pure heart open to grace. Then we will be on the right path to doing His will in cooperation with our own efforts.

When we think we are good people we are suffering from pride and probably unaware of our sinfulness. Beware!

Reference: Path to Salvation by Saint Theophan the Recluse, p 29

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