My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
THE INVIOLABILITY OF FREE WILL
By Saint Nektarios of Pentapolis
Human free will is sacred. This saying demonstrates the profundity of our moral freedom. The Savior invites people to follow Him and then leaves us free to decide this most important question for ourselves: to follow Him or turn against the way of God. He came for our salvation but does not encroach on our free will. He invites us to take an active part in our salvation, but does not violate our free will in the slightest. If people were not free and self-determining beings, we would never have deserved such great respect, we would never have been accorded such great honor, that is to work with Christ the Savior for our salvation; nor, of course, would it have been left to our personal inclination, but rather we would have been led to salvation as passive and inert creatures, and would have simply accepted the effect of Divine Grace, which would have worked exclusively for our redemption. Truly, this is how respected and inviolate God desires our moral freedom to be; how imperious He wants our free will to be!
A study of our history of the redemption of mankind reveals the Son of God, Who became a person in order to save all of us, treading the path to His voluntary passion, bearing the sin of the world, healing our wounds, fulfilling the great mystery of Divine dispensation, reconciling us with God and yet in no way infringing our free will. There you are! The gate of Paradise, which had been shut, was opened; the fiery sword which guarded the entrance was removed and the voice of the Lord invited excluded humanity to enter thereby into a place of peace and quiet. However, we were left free to enter or not, as we choose.
This freedom, that is to act by choice and to follow His Laws, not influenced even by God Himself, demonstrates the absolute nature of our free will, which derives from our moral freedom, our great value, and the high position we occupy in the creation. What great honor is rendered to us by the fact that our free will is inviolate. At the same time, with what clarity are we taught our responsibilities: that we should respect our free will; have fervent zeal; and not allow, under any circumstances, our free will to be enslaved and our moral freedom to become dependent on humiliating passions and desires.
Our moral freedom obliges us to make provision for our salvation, because otherwise we shall be lost. The formal recognition of our moral freedom by the Savior Himself teaches us that our salvation will be achieved by the absolute action of god's grace, but also by our own consent and simultaneous action.
Concerning this necessity, let us see what the wise Holy Fathers of the Church have to say, Saint John Chrysostom says: "even though grace is grace, it saves only those who desire to be." Saint Gregory the Theologian stresses that: our consent is necessary; but we shall be saved by God." Saint Clement of Alexandria adds: "God inspires the souls that desire; but if their readiness abandons them, then the very grace which has been given them by God will be denied them." In addition, Saint Justin concludes: God did, indeed, make people without their consent, but is unable to save them against their will." Thus, we are expressly and clearly taught that there are two factors in our salvation: (a) the free desire of the human will and (b) the grace of God.
The prime agent in the word of our salvation is indeed the grace of God, because Christ the Savior came as Light to those who were in the dark and shed the Light of His Grace on those "dwelling in darkness and the shadow of death." He sought the lost sheep, called back those who had strayed, spoke secretly to people's hearts and showed us the way to salvation. It is the grace of God which perfects and saves, yet our own will should not be accounted of any less importance. We should regard it as the outstanding gem in the crown of our salvation, since it is the main lever that shifts our outlook that has been rendered inert by sin. (Source: Orthodox Heritage)
(To be continued)
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God