Monday, May 16, 2016

Man is endowed with free will ( Part 3 ) - St. Nektarios of Pentapolis

It is necessary for our free will to pave the way, for this is demanded by the conditions under which the Savior calls everyone who desires to follow Him (Lk. 14:16). Without man’s resolution, the fulfillment of the recommended conditions would be impossible, and, subsequently, salvation would also be unattainable. Grace is bestowed, but man’s decision and consent are needed in order for him to accept the grace. As a matter of fact, self-denial, self-sacrifice, and an unwavering mindset inclined toward nothing other than the
voice of the Savior, the voice of grace and truth, are also required. 

If the revealed grace of God (Tit. 2:11) alone, on it’s own, saved people, then the invitation, the conditions, and the covenant would be totally
unnecessary and redundant. However, even though
God’s grace is infinite, it does not save man on its own because it does not want to violate man’s free will. If man’s consent was not a factor of paramount importance for his salvation, then certainly God in his infinite love for man would save everyone [indiscriminately] and there would be no need for Him to invite anyone. 

However, He has invited man—even under conditions that seem difficult for sensual people who are enslaved to sin—, and He offers salvation
but also demands that people follow [Him], on
account of a great and most-significant reason: man’s rebirth and regeneration in Jesus Christ our Savior.
Because it was not possible for the “old man”
(Rom. 6:6), who had been corrupted by sin, to enter into the Kingdom of God.
Thus, it was necessary to “put off the old man”
(Col. 3:9)“along with his passions and desires”
(Gal. 5:24), and to “put on the new man, who is
renewed in knowledge according to the image of
the One Who created him” (Col. 3:10).
In order, however, for man to put off his old self, it was first necessary for him to desire to do so.
Man's collaboration is absolutely necessary in order for him to be perfected. The Savior made known to us that there are many mansions in the
home of His Father:
“In My Father’s house are many mansions” (Jn. 14:2).
People who have lived upon the earth in a befitting manner come to dwell within [these
mansions]. Hence, our life upon the earth appoints the position we will have in Paradise. This is why St. Gregory of Nanzianzus says, "
Just as there are different ways of life, similarly there are many mansions in God’s Kingdom, which are distributed according to the merit of each person. Some people carry out one specific virtue; others accomplish all the virtues. As long
as someone walks and follows in the footsteps of Him Who guides and leads well, and Who steers us through the narrow path and gate to the spaciousness of the future bliss.”

Accordingly, man is obligated to concern himself with and work toward his salvation; otherwise, he runs the risk of ultimately perishing. For there is
nothing in common between light and darkness, between good and evil:
“For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6:14). Sin, which corrupted
man, is darkness and a most-terrible evil since it wages war against the will of God. Ethical freedom is an exceptional good; however, it carries with it exceptional responsibilities. He who is endowed with ethical liberty is obligated to become ethically free [from sin] in order to become holy. This is why God commands the following in both the Old and New Testament:
"Become holy, for I am holy" (Lev. 11:44-45; 1Pet
. 1:16). Otherwise, how is it possible for an ethical slave who is subjugated to sin to communicate with God? The Savior similarly commands,
"You shall be perfect, just as your Father in the Heavens is perfect" (Mt. 5:48), for it is necessary for the children to resemble the Father, Whom they call upon. Hence, God desires us to be holy
and perfect, because only they who are holy and perfect, as sons of the Heavenly Father, are capable of petitioning for His blessings with filial
boldness, and only they inherit the Heavenly Kingdom.
This is why the Apostle Paul wrote the following to the Corinthians:
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?
Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor
drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the Kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9-10). This is why the Savior invites us to deny ourselves and to carry the cross upon our shoulders and to follow Him:“If anyone desires to  come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me”(Mt. 16:24). He acknowledges our ethical freedom of choice, but He simultaneously leaves our salvation to be determined by our free will. Hence, he who desires to be saved is obligated to
make an effort in order to acquire salvation; otherwise, he will be deprived of it and, instead, will be preparing to forfeit eternal life through his indifference and negligence, and he will inherit
eternal Hell.
I pray for God to deliver us all from this . Amen.