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How to move away from sin

sin repentance metanoia

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#1 Michael T.

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Posted 21 August 2015 - 02:20 AM

In so many topics on Christian boards this topic comes up over and over. We all know the standard answers. I can honestly write a tome of how sinful I am and don't seem to be getting anywhere. I can also talk of how I remember sin after sin from my pass; this can be an indirect way of false humility about how I'm becoming so aware of my sin(roll your eyes here) remember how Christ told Peter,"with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. (So get to your point)
All these topics and posts and standard answers from Christ, the Apostles, the Fathers. But even with knowing all this I and a lot of others seem to want to ask the question, "how". What is the difference in struggling, trying to do it yourself versus trying to participate while God changes you. Have you ever written a post and gotten a reply where later you realize that you didn't understand the reply as it was meant? Well no matter that I have read St. Isaac or John Climatus, saying of the Desert Fathers... It all makes sense to me but it doesn't. It is that ongoing feeling that I'm going about it all wrong. Like the post, I may have understood the denotative meaning but not the conitative meaning. Like a picture of a deer fawn in the underbrush, one can look right at it and never see it. I keep attempting and desiring to understand, but if "the proof is in the pudding," than I have no idea what I'm doing. Forget the really advanced struggles, I can't seem to adjust or improve my behavior. Sometimes I wish someone like Abba Pimen had written "metanoia for dummies" Sometimes it feels like I trying to learn to throw a. Ceramic pot on a wheel by reading a book. Don't get me wrong here, I participate in Church and try to be involved with the community. So, for me and all the others who have attempted to ask the question, how is this done.

#2 Father David Moser

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Posted 21 August 2015 - 01:34 PM

Repent.  Deep constant heartfelt weeping for your sins. If you want to read something, try St Silouan of Mt Athos - or better yet the writings of those in his spiritual line - Archim Sophrony of Essex (or about him - the new spiritual biography by Metr Hierotheos is quite good) and his spiritual children, eg. Archim Zacharias.  We don't get away from sin - we are sinners.  God makes the changes in us - we just repent.  Fr Sophrony also points out that we should not "spy" on ourselves to evaluate our own spiritual level to see if we are doing it right or making progress, rather just keep repenting.

 

Fr David Moser



#3 Lakis Papas

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Posted 21 August 2015 - 04:52 PM

Let me add we all need an experienced spiritual father to guide us. And let me also add that "change" does not happen overnight. It starts on earth and continues in Heaven. 

 

The only wrong thing for a christian is to become disappointed over his spiritual progress. Enough is to know that we are sinners and to understand this as an unacceptable situation. We should avoid painful self-blame that leads to deadlock. 

 

Also, for many of us, lack of progress is a blessed protection from pride.



#4 Michael T.

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Posted 22 August 2015 - 02:42 AM

Thanks to the both of you.

Fr. Moser
I appreciate the suggestions. I have each of these books; they are on the shelf that serves as my reading que. I guess I should move them to the front of the que.

Papas, you are right and I'm attempting to do just that

#5 Michael T.

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Posted 22 August 2015 - 02:48 AM

Oh and Father, anyone who adds that Pogo strip to their profile can't be all bad.

I also love the Bohr quote, how appropriate. How wonderfully simple

#6 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 22 August 2015 - 12:47 PM

For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.
Ecclesiastes 7:20


Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?
Proverbs 20:9


If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
1 John 1:18

 

As has been said, we cannot escape our fallen nature and our inclination to sin. As Archimandrite Sophrony says (in the newly published Letters to His Family), we cannot avoid sin but we can avoid the consequences of sin by repentance.

 

I was taught that we should look at sin in two ways. First, we should consider if we have broken the negative commandments - not to kill, not to steal, and so forth. Secondly, we should consider how far we fall short of fulfilling the positive commandments - to love God with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength, and our neighbour as our self. We tend to focus on the first and may think that if we have no broken those, we are doing all right. Many years ago, I said to Archimandrite Zacharias that I could not think what to say in confession; he looked at me gravely and said, 'then repent of that'. Also, Bishop Irenaeos once said to me, 'if you cannot think of what you should repent, it means you do not have the light of Christ by which to see yourself. Consider how far you are from the perfection that Christ calls you to have'.



#7 Michael T.

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Posted 22 August 2015 - 05:54 PM

Ok boys (that is not a lack of respect nor a diminutive but a term of endearment) each point that has been posted is a great point and each point I do accept, agree with, and "subscribe to." The truth be known, and this statement isn't some false- humility statement. My assumption, we could put all of your sins together in a sack and mine alone would be larger, you see I lived a "wild" life when I was younger. I have a whole set of sins I would not post here, not out of pride, but it would be indecent for me to post them here. I go through my day her and there remembering 5 years ago, 30 years ago... Things that I did, some that I knew were sins then, some that I was unaware of my sinfulness of the time until now.

Part of the question I am asking is not about measuring how well I'm doing as much as needing trail markers just to know that I'm on the right path. In use of the analogy of the path, Christ said it was narrow and difficult. I, like a hiker, don't want to wake up one day and realize that I've been off the path for two days and 20miles. Another analogy, I don't want to get trapped in the land of the lotus-eaters because I want to get home.

Here is an aside: as I read the Fathers I run into quotes that otherfamous quotes were just paraphrases
Example: Ben Franklin said something to the effect " A man who would be his on lawyer has a fool for a lawyer and a jackass for a client." This is very similar to a quote I think I read in the sayings of the desert Fathers about being your own confessor.

So, what is my urgency? Like Ulysses, I want to go home,

#8 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 22 August 2015 - 06:26 PM

You might trying to say the Prayer at Daybreak by Archimandrite Sophrony. Here are a few lines which might be relevant:

 

Of Thine immense goodness, O Lord God, shew me the path of Thy will, and grant me to walk in Thy sight without sin.
O Lord, unto Whom all hearts be open, Thou knowest what things I have need of.                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thou art acquainted with my blindness and my ignorance, Thou knowest my infirmity and my soul’s corruption; but neither are my pain and my anguish hid from Thee.
Wherefore I beseech Thee, hear my prayer and by Thy Holy Spirit teach me the way wherein I should walk; and when my perverted will would lead me down other paths spare me not, O Lord, but force me back to Thee. By the power of Thy love, grant me to hold fast to that which is good.                                                                                            
 


Edited by Reader Andreas, 22 August 2015 - 06:29 PM.


#9 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 23 August 2015 - 01:34 AM

You can't. Not without God's help. Continue to ask for His help, like the nagging widow to the unjust judge.

 

Confession helps. Having to tell someone what you did can sometimes help you avoid doing it so you don't have to confess it "this time".

 

We all suffer from the sickness of sin, and we are all sick even unto death. But Christ the Divine Physician has given us His Spiritual Hospital, the Church and a plethora of tools to help us become "well". We have the medicine of the sacraments/mysteries, we have the therapy of asceticism, alms-giving, and prayer. We have the consultation of our spiritual father confessor.

 

We use ALL of the tools in the tool-box. We learn humility and patience. Without humility and patience there is no healing. Pray for humility and patience.



#10 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 23 August 2015 - 03:19 PM

I just read that someone asked a similar question of St Barsanuphius of Optina. The Saint replied that such a one should study the scriptures and fulfil Christ's commandments: 

 

The foundation of the whole law of God is love for God and one’s neighbour. Try to love the Lord. But how can this be attained? He Himself spoke to us about this: He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me (John 14:21). And so, according to the word of the Lord Himself, the path to Him, to His Divine love, is a single one—the fulfillment of His commandments, concerning which He says, “My commandments are not grievous” (cf. I John 5:3). His commandments are known to all . . .



#11 Rick H.

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Posted 24 August 2015 - 02:50 PM

I hear what you are saying about "standard answers."  I think I have almost given up trying to 'know' what is our part and what is God's part.  Maybe the answer to "how' is found for some in a type of giving up.  I think one person has coined the term "a positive disengagement' as it relates to this.



#12 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 24 August 2015 - 05:03 PM

Is not 'our part' keeping Christ's commandments as St Barsanuphius said? It is what we read in Psalm 119 and in the Great Doxology.



#13 Lakis Papas

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Posted 25 August 2015 - 09:44 PM

I think "positive disengagement" might be a valid approach when we talk about non-members of the Church that are interesting in Christianity and feel overwhelmed by their relation with something new in their life.

 

But when we talk about Church members we should not put our life in a void position. When you are in the Church it is not wise to look for an "exit". 

 

A woman asked for guidance from a bishop once, because she was praying all the time and struggling to accomplish the life of the Church and found no peace. The bishop said to her: "every day, stop praying for 20 minutes, just remain alone and silent in a room, do not focus on any spiritual matter, just let yourself to 'listen' how God answers your prayers, if and when He decides to do so". She followed his advise and after sometime, as she was alone in her room, she felt an imperceptible presence right next to her, a new experience. And by this way, by following the bishop's advice, peace entered in her heart, not by praying and by struggling to approach God but by remaining silent and by just making room for God in her life. Just as simple as that.  

 



#14 Rick H.

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Posted 26 August 2015 - 01:30 PM

Your story about the woman who was advised to cease striving is a good example of a positive disengagement as some use the term.  That's a perfect story and at the risk of providing a one-size-fits-all answer, this shows the way one can 'know' for oneself.



#15 Michael T.

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 04:37 AM

Yeah, it seems really like each of you are "playing the game." Now don't take that in the wrong way, I mean you are helping because you are really struggling along with me. Your answers seem to be really wrestling with my question. One thing I believe is important to guard against is magic. Not the "double, double toil and trouble," type but magic is any time we try to control God. I catch it in myself when I'm unintentionally trying to manipulate God. This, of course is antithetical to what we believe, what I believe, but it is the ugliness in me raising its head. Intellectually, I am extremely against these ideas but there is a 3 year old inside of me that wants someone to "fix" it for me. You know, "Dios ExMachina" style.

#16 Michael T.

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 04:44 AM

You know a magical view is not just, not in line with the Church's teaching but is a neuroses. It takes us away from reality, and gets in the way of see clearly, seeing things as they are.

#17 Rick H.

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 09:52 AM

Hopefully you are not confusing magical with mystical.  I appreciate the Psalm which says cease striving and know that I am God.  Hopefully you are allowing room for a contemplative approach in your attempt to see things clearly and cling to your reality, while trying to avoid a neurotic mysticism.



#18 Michael T.

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 11:57 PM

Rick, I think we are on the same page. I'd love to wax on the many definitions people apply to the words "magic" and "mystic". The definitions I learn of magic is anything that attempts to control God, maybe Angels or other spiritual powers or beings. It is kind of the dark side of the mystical. (Sic) (oh Lord won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz) unfortunately there is a lot of Christian Magic( despite the term is an oxymoron).
I was taught that people come to know God through history, for example; the way God reveals Himself through the history of the Torah. The second way is through nature, wether that is through the physiology of a small mammal, astrophysics, or the beauty of a sunrise. The third way is direct relationship, contact, revelation, this third way is what I know as mysticism. So, according to my definition prayer,and fasting are mystical, liturgy and psalmody are mystical. Our desire and passion to know God and be known by Him, that is mysticism. Even practicing love, learning to love, can be and is a mystical endeavor.

Humility has been described as that state of see things, the world, everything as it is, being in Truth, magical thought and ideas teach us of fantasy, and virtual realities.

#19 Michael T.

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Posted 28 August 2015 - 12:04 AM

Putting away passions, and striving, putting away desperation and anxiety, of what we might eat or drink or wear. Living in the presence, of the LORD.

I spin a good yarn, but to functionally live this...

#20 Marie+Duquette

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Posted 28 August 2015 - 12:17 PM

confusing magical with mystical

Putting away passions, and striving,

putting away desperation and anxiety,

of what we might eat or drink or wear.

Living in the presence, of the LORD. 

I spin a good yarn,

 

but to functionally live this... 

 

confusing magical with mystical

 

Hopefully you are not confusing magical with mystical.  I appreciate the Psalm which says cease striving and know that I am God.  Hopefully you are allowing room for a contemplative approach in your attempt to see things clearly and cling to your reality, while trying to avoid a neurotic mysticism.

 

Have been looking at this "Thread"  today.  It's all part of the daily struggle, as far as my experience goes!  It's moving slowly from the mind into the heart, into this presence of God, into the so-called mystical,  ...  into the " Mystery of knowing and not-knowing".  

 

Telling a story, a parable, helps to understand!  I like the term " spinning a good yarn"  not many of us actually do spin fleece into yarn these days.  It's such a "magical process"  from the sheep's back into a finished product.  Not only is the yarn spun, it must continue the process of being woven, knitted, measured, fashioned, cut, sewn,  etc.  I'm using words to explain.  I could use a pen, pencil, brush, the draw out or paint.  or I could simply sit and contemplate the whole of the process. 

 

I guess that entering into a group conversation, makes me, in a sense, a part of the group!  So, Yes, I to struggle with the word  " sin"  trying to understand, interiorize, come to grips with! Looking at the crucified Christ, and the Risen Christ! It's like going around in a circle, creating dust, ...  when will I break from this circling?  No wonder the desert fathers went out to the desert!  No wonder Mary of Egypt went out to the desert!  no wonder each of us is in our own desert!  spinning yarns in our head, hoping for a tiny opening, a needle's eye, to enter into this " Place"  not magically, but mystically, in the moment of stillness where God reminds each of us:  "  Be still and know".

 

Have a great " Omega" day today!  tomorrow will take care of itself:  the Beheading of John the Baptist!  . . .  I must decrease and He must increase . . .


Edited by Marie+Duquette, 28 August 2015 - 12:22 PM.






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