Obedience is one of the cures for prelest

Obedience and Choosing of the Spiritual Guide

Prof. Nikolay Pestov. “Way to True Joy”.

Professor N.E. Pestov

“Christ humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2,8). A man was created for free will, but does it mean that he is absolutely free in his wishes, intentions, decisions and deeds? Does he have a right for headstrongness and willfulness? No, the human will is restrained by God’s laws of the universe. God determined what Adam was allowed to do and what was prohibited.

According to the Holy Fathers obedience is the same thing as piety. So St. Anthony the Great explains: “To be pious is to fulfill the will of God, that means to know God”. The Holy Fathers say that the will is the only thing that really belongs to us, and anything else is given by God as a gift. Therefore the renunciation of the will values more than many other good deeds.

As elder Silouan of Mount Athos says: “Hardly anyone knows the mystery of obedience. The obedient man is great before God. He emulates Christ, Who gave us the image of obedience. The Lord loves the soul of the obedient, bringing it quiet and love. The spirit of obedience is necessary not only in monks but in everyone else, too. Everyone seeks peace and joy, but few people know that they are obtained through obedience. Even feats without obedience may lead to vanity”.

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Grace Enters into the Human Soul Only through Obedience

Archimandrite Raphael (Karelin). "Obedience is the Basis for Salvation".

Archimandrite Raphael (Karelin)

Decay and death of the human body are an image of the sin, which the man bears in his soul. But this tragedy of the sin does not mean hopelessness for men. A Christian shall return the grace in the same way as he has lost it. The Holy Fathers say that the Adam’s sin was caused by pride. Pride deprived the man of self-understanding. Pride caused dreaminess, i. e. illusory perception of himself and the world, and Adam’s confidence that he was ready to ascend to higher levels of contemplation and become equal to God. Pride deprived Adam of self-understanding in the light of grace, and, in the darkness of illusory dreams, he heard the demon’s voice: “You will be like one of gods”. Adam wanted to take from God by force what had been promised to him for obedience, and change likeness to God into equality with God. We think that St. Gregory the Theologian told the most profound words about the fall of Adam: “Adam lost Paradise not only when he was expelled from Eden, but when he lost grace through the fall”. Other illusory paradise opened in his soul, which, in fact, was an anteroom of hell. These feelings, degenerated into passions, filled the human soul as sparks coming from hell. Adam lost joy in God; and the man seeks pleasure in satisfaction of his passions. Adam considered the forbidden fruit as a talisman, so that he could acquire divine force with it; he wanted to become god through owning an external object. Now, the man seeks happiness in external things. Adam lost grace; the man exists in the field of his own passions. Adam lost peace in God; the man lives in perpetual unrest, in constant anxiety.

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St Diadochos on Obedience

St Diadochos of Photiki. "On Spiritual Knowledge and Discrimination One Hundred Texts".

41. It is well known that obedience is the chief among the initiatory virtues, for first it displaces presumption and then it engenders humility within us. Thus it becomes, for those who willingly embrace it, a door leading to the love of God. It was because he rejected humility that Adam fell into the lowest depths of Hades. It was because He loved humility that the Lord, in accordance with the divine purpose, was obedient to His Father even to the cross and death, although He was in no way inferior to the Father; and so through His own obedience He has freed mankind from the crime of disobedience and leads back to the blessedness of eternal life all who live in obedience. Thus humility should be the first concern of those who are fighting the presumption of the devil, for as we advance it will be a sure guide to all the paths of virtue.

The Ladder on Obedience

St. John of Sinai. "The Ladder of Divine Ascent"

Step 4 On blessed and ever-memorable obedience

1. Our treatise now appropriately touches upon warriors (Gk. puktai, ‘prizefighters’) and athletes of Christ. As the flower precedes the fruit, so exiles (exile appears to be essentially equivalent to detachment) either of body or will always precedes obedience. For with the help of these two virtues, the holy soul steadily ascends to heaven as upon golden wings. And perhaps it was about this that he who had received the Holy Spirit sang: Who will give me wings like a dove? And I will fly by activity, and be at rest by contemplation and humility.(Psalm liv, 7.)

2. But let us not fail, if you agree, to describe clearly in our treatise the weapons of these brave warriors: how they hold the shield of faith in God and their trainer, (Gk. gymnastēs, the trainer of athletes. Here it refers to the spiritual director or superior) and with it they ward off, so to speak, every thought of unbelief and vacillation; how they constantly raise the drawn sword of the Spirit and slay every wish of their own that approaches them; how, clad in the iron armour of meekness and patience, they avert every insult and injury and missile. And for a helmet of salvation they have their superior’s protection through prayer. And they do not stand with their feet together, for one is stretched out in service and the other is immovable in prayer.

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