Faith in general
What is faith in general? Faith is a force of the soul that comprises a coordination of the mind (reason), the heart (desire), and the will (determination). It is the most basic manifestation of all the souls qualities, directing and accomplishing all intentions and actions. Faith is completely natural and is inherent in all rational creation. Without faith it is impossible to do anything at all, even at a most elementary level. It is expressed in trust, assurance, belief, hope, as well as love.
But this does not yet represent faith in God. This faith is not spiritual, but simply mental, and absolutely appropriate and requisite, first of all, in regard to oneself and then to other people, ideas, and even things. Without such natural faith in oneself it would be impossible even to get up from a chair and cross a room. Without such faith or trust in the builders of a bridge, for example, we would be overcome with terror each time we crossed a bridge. This faith is mental and natural, and has no moral element, because it does not comprise the concept of good and evil. Such faith is appropriate wherever, in the absence of exact data or knowledge, there is a certain assurance in some hypotheses. Faith in God, how-ever, is of a completely different order.
Faith in God
Faith in God is the foundation of spiritual life. It is directly related to the concept of good and evil and, therefore, is rooted in the will. True belief in God is the basic good which predetermines the good or evil nature of everything else. Why is belief in God regarded as the foundation of good? Because it is based upon free will and connects man through grace with the source of good with God.
Animals cannot experience disbelief in God or lack of love for Him. They do not have a spiritual life, nor do they have any moral element in their free will. Even their will is only partly free, since it relates to matters of livelihood and is primarily determined by circumstances.
Spiritual free will is totally free. It defines man as a creature made in the image of God. The choice is made freely: either to believe in God, love Him will all ones might before all else (first commandment), trust in God completely, and submit to Him with joy and awe, or not to love Him, oppose Him, and even enviously wish that He did not exist, and in His place wish to see man, particularly oneself.
The woman of Canaan is a prime example of free will in the issue of humility vs. pride, belief vs. disbelief. When Christ replied to her: It is not meet to take the childrens bread and to cast it to dogs (Matt. 15:26), many people would have become offended through injured pride, i.e. could not have responded with humility. It is necessary to humble oneself in order to retain faith, because humility is an unbiased and realistic evaluation of ones personal situation before God and other people, i.e. it is a sincere realization of ones total unworthiness.
Obstinate disbelief comes from evil will, because it is founded upon the deceit of pride and self-justification. Pride is a falsehood, because it gives a vain man a distorted view of his own significance, righteousness, and independence. Disbelief is a falsehood, because it negates Truth Itself i.e. God, and disbelief is evil, because it rejects the very source of Good i.e. God. Disbelief is built on quicksand, upon which are built mythology and all false philosophy, without the capability of true knowledge and comprehension, but only with false mirages escaping into eternal darkness.
True faith in God is a spiritual light that is brighter and more luminous than all natural light, since it connects man with the source of uncreated Light i.e. God. Faith is a requisite conductor, in order for the force of Gods grace to be able to descend upon man. True faith in God is a primary moving force to which all physical forces and all the laws of nature are subordinate. True faith in God is the rock upon which genuine knowledge and understanding are built.
And, last but not least, true faith in God is Gods gift to a pure heart which desires it sincerely. It is Gods gift to a good and free will that is ready to manifest hardiness and determination in seeking it. And it is Gods gift to the mind that has humbled itself and has bowed down low enough to be able to enter through very narrow gates into the kingdom of faith, into Gods joy, into the Heavenly Kingdom.
Man is created in such a way that his soul cannot live without true faith in God, just as his body cannot live without breathing. And this faith is unique and can relate only to God. It should occupy first place in mans heart. If this faith ceases to be directed at God, then it is necessarily directed at Gods substitute, at an idol. That constitutes spiritual adultery.
If this faith, which is intended only for the True God, is removed from God, but is not transferred to anyone else, then such a person simply cannot function psychologically, even on a daily routine level. Therefore, when this basic faith ceases to be directed at God, it is definitely transferred to one of the following three:
(1) Creation that is paganism; it practically no longer exists in its original state. This is the simplest and most na?ve deification of creation. By the way, genuine pagan savages easily accept the preaching of the Gospel even to this day, as, for example, in the Amazon jungle or in Columbia.
(2) Satan that is Satanism; it is a manifestation which is now becoming more and more widespread. This is authentic evil, possession by evil, which consciously places itself in opposition to belief in God; an evil which exists simultaneously with full awareness of the existence of God and His commandments.
(3) Man that is humanism; it is the most widespread manifestation. This is conscious but foolish resistance to God. This is rebellion against God and willful insubordination to Him. Humanism is based upon pride and falsehood. As a result of choosing falsehood a persons conscience and mind become dull, and all other lies then follow freely and almost unnoticeably. Hypocrisy is then taken for righteousness, and vice for virtue.
Humanism is founded upon pride and is the opposite of humility. This is a prideful unwillingness to have a God over oneself and even to depend upon God. This is a desire to be god oneself or to be in Gods place. This is a persons free, absolutely amoral, and spiritually suicidal resolve, and is the basic source of evil in man and in the world. Having so resolved, man experiences fear and sees God as his enemy, and fearing God already as an enemy and not as a Father, man tries to hide from God.
Therefore, out of arrogance and obstinacy, stubbornly refusing to repent and humble himself, man builds himself a fortress of self-justification, which he fortifies with the cement of pride. All attempts to show or prove the truth to him, as well as the facts, simply bounce off the walls of this fortress of self-justification into which man has locked himself. Such a man is spiritually blind and will defend his blindness with all his might.
However, the grace of God may erode this fortress like water and, depending upon its stability, the duration of the erosion, and the pressure of the water, such a fortress may crumble entirely, since it is built upon the sand of doubt. This process may take a long time, but often, when the fortress crumbles, it does so in an instant.
This is called total contrition.
This is the beginning of true repentance.
This is a complete destruction of pride and a humble standing before God, with a feeling of ones nakedness and total unworthiness just like the prodigal son.
This is no longer prideful and obstinate resistance to God, but a humble desire for forgiveness.
This is a complete realization of ones unworthiness to be accepted as a son, and is a humble plea to just be commemorated in the Heavenly Kingdom.
This remorse is accompanied by copious tears, but they are special tears, the tears of true repentance. There are many different tears, and there is a vast difference between them, even in their chemical composition. The tears of vanity, or indignation, or insult, for example, have little in common with tears of repentance.
God will not despise a broken and a contrite heart. It is just such a heart which God can take up and elevate, purify and adorn, clothe festively, and joyfully introduce at His feast.
(To be continued)
Priest Nikita Grigoryev
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