Obedience for lay people

Obedience and Choosing of the Spiritual Guide

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

Professor N.E. Pestov (1892-14.1.1982)

“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”.

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.