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Practical Manual for Overcoming Specific Sins


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#1 Brad D.

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Posted 26 January 2015 - 04:16 PM

Can anyone recommend a book, preferably a modern book with Patristic references, that gives practical guidance to overcoming specific temptations and sins?  I am needing to find something for use in a small discipleship group setting, or something that can be adapted.


Brad



#2 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 26 January 2015 - 08:19 PM

Not really, but my late spiritual father said this:

 

A man may say that he is ashamed that he always has to confess the same sin.  Would it be better for him to work his way through the whole alphabet of sins?  If you have one particular sin that troubles you, you know who your enemy is and you can concentrate your struggle against him.  



#3 Phoebe K.

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Posted 27 January 2015 - 12:13 PM

I have come across a couple of books which I have found helpful in my own spiritual life which may be of use.  

 

One is Turning the heart to God by St Theophan the Recluse, it is not the most modern text but very relivent to our situation now and full of biblical and Patristic references.

 

The other book is Defeating Sin by Fr Joseph David Huneycutt, it would be easily used for group work or retreats (in fact there is a suggestion in the appendixes for how to use it in a retreat).

 

I have used the second to help me prepear for my life confession and baptism, the one by St Theophan I plan to use this year as my lent reading.



#4 Father David Moser

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Posted 27 January 2015 - 02:51 PM

If you want something patristic, try St John Cassian's conferences.  This is not a casual study group book, but it is a discussion of particular sins and how to combat them.  There is a compilation of this work in the Philokalia (in English, Vol 1 p 73) that specifically addresses the 8 vices.

 

Re: Fr Joseph's book.  I recall that when I wrote the review of his book, I did have some concerns about the second section in that some of the "exercises" were not consistent with Orthodox tradition (he talks about doing some visualization which is outside the tradition of the Church).  Its not exactly wrong or bad, but something that imo should be avoided due to the danger of demonic deception and the growth of self centeredness.  Otherwise I found the first half of the book to be quite good.

 

Fr David



#5 Brad D.

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Posted 27 January 2015 - 04:42 PM

Thanks everyone for these suggestions!  If you think of any others, please do add them.



#6 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 28 January 2015 - 02:20 AM

"The Path to Salvation" by St. Theophan the Recluse.

"How they faced the temptations of the flesh" compiled by George Kalpousos



#7 Paul Cowan

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Posted 28 January 2015 - 04:35 AM

Phoebe,

 

Fr Joseph is my spiritual father. I love him.

 

I would add to the list Unseen Warfare.

 

Paul



#8 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 28 January 2015 - 08:07 AM

Read 'em all - still sin.



#9 Rdr Thomas

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Posted 28 January 2015 - 01:30 PM

Read 'em all - still sin.

 

Indeed.  If I could paraphrase, "All these things I have read from my youth up; what lack I yet?".  There really is only one answer, and it came from the Word of God Himself: "If thou wilt be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor...and come, follow me".  Other writings, while edifying, practical, and built on ample experience of the Saints, are but expansions of what The Lord taught.

 

In my own modern American life, letting go of possessions is one of the most difficult problems I have, even when I recognize them standing between me and God.  Almsgiving is not just for the poor, for they will be with us always; giving away physical items helps acquire the humility necessary to jettison much more personal things, such as pride, lust, avarice, etc.   It's an opportunity for us to not let a single thing get between us and Jesus.



#10 Lakis Papas

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Posted 28 January 2015 - 05:44 PM

While it is legitimate to seek an end to sin, I think, the pursuit of repentance is more important.

 

The pursuit of purity is part of repentance. Thus, preaching began with the word "repent". And the preparation of the coming of Jesus was the preaching of repentance by John the Baptist.

 

If we live in repentance the temptation is powerless. Repentance is to live by works of virtue which are contrary to our own specific sins. Repentance is an energetic lifestyle. 

 

As a lover believes that his/her love is the most beautiful in the world and can not be tempted by any beauty, similarly anyone who lives in repentance considers this as the most beautiful unparalleled experience - in a way that there can be no other experience comparable with it.

 

Repentance is free from guilt, it is based on freedom. On the freedom to be able to change yourself. The free will is an essential element of Christian life. Living in repentance means to live freely, to experience real freedom. Part of freedom is to be free of sinfull acts - they are acts of compulsion, even when we choose them. Repentance provides the roadmap to freedom from sin.



#11 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 28 January 2015 - 06:04 PM

"If thou wilt be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor...and come, follow me".  

 

This teaching was specific to the rich young man. It is not to be applied to all. After all, it did not apply to Zacchaeus.



#12 Rdr Thomas

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Posted 28 January 2015 - 08:55 PM

Of course.  I don't mean that everyone is to become a monastic.  But Zacchaeus did in fact restore four-fold.  The point is that we shouldn't let possessions possess us!



#13 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 28 January 2015 - 10:14 PM

As a Sufi mystic said, 'asceticism does not mean owning nothing: it means ensuring that nothing owns you'.



#14 Rdr Thomas

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Posted 30 January 2015 - 01:11 PM

I providentially ran across this just this morning.  Leave it to The Golden Mouth to tie up Zacchaeus and almsgiving!

 

 

There is no sin, which alms cannot cleanse, none, which alms cannot quench: all sin is beneath this. Alms are a medicine adapted for every wound. What is worse than a publican? The very matter of his occupation is altogether one of injustice: and yet Zaccheus washed away all these sins. Mark how even Christ shows this, by the care taken to have a purse, and to bear the contributions put into it. And Paul also says, “Only that we remember the poor” (Gal 2:10.) And everywhere the Scripture has much discourse concerning this matter. “The ransom,” it says, “of a man’s soul is his own wealth” (Prov 13:8.), and with reason for, says Christ, “If you would be perfect, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and come, follow Me” (Matt 19:21.) This may well be part of perfection.
 
Saint John Chrysostom, On Acts, Homily XXV

 

 
Brad, I apologize that I haven't made any direct answers to your questions, but hopefully these are helpful exchanges.


#15 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 30 January 2015 - 01:55 PM

I was just thinking of St Joseph of Arimathea who was a wealthy tin merchant but gave his tomb for Christ's burial.



#16 Brad D.

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Posted 31 January 2015 - 06:51 PM

Great stuff everyone!  Thanks for the comments and thoughts.



#17 Brad D.

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Posted 31 January 2015 - 06:53 PM

"The Path to Salvation" by St. Theophan the Recluse.

"How they faced the temptations of the flesh" compiled by George Kalpousos

 

Cannot seem to find the second book you list here anywhere...is there another name it might be listed under?






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