Prepared from textbook by:
THE LAW OF GOD 
Show me Thy ways, O Lord;
teach me Thy paths
This work was prepared
in commemoration of 1000 years of baptism of Russia
6/19 March 1989
TABLE OF CONTENTS
File 0: 1. Conscience. 2. Sin. 3. Virtue. 4. God's Law. 5. Freedom Of Will. 6. Christian Personality. 7. Humility. 8. Conversion Of Sinners. 9. Grace And Salvation. 10. Learning And Religion.
File 1: 11. Development Of Feelings. 12 - Christian Hope. 13 - Man's Will. 14 - Work, Entertainment. 15 - Christian Body. 16 - Christian Death. 17 - Christian Justice. 18 - Lie, Christian Mercy. 19 - Envy, Evil Talk, Anger. 20 - Non-Christian Systems Of Morality.
File 2: 21 - Christian Love. 22 - Orthodox Family. 23 - Family And Society. 24 - Christian Duty To Serve. 25 - Christianity And Communism. 26 - Love For God And Neighbors. 27 - Obligation To Know God. 28 - Necessity Of Prayer. 29 - Model Of A Christian Prayer. 30 - Prayers, Holidays And Fasts.
File 3: 31 - Contemporary Issues.
Appendixes: 1. God's Qualities. 2. Ten Commandments. 3. Beatitudes. 4. Other Gospel Commandments. 5. Short Confession Before The Priest. 6. The Prayer Of St. Ephraim The Syrian.
1. How does one differentiate between morally good and morally bad?
The differentiation between morally good and morally bad is done according to the moral law, that is according to the conscience. The conscience is the moral law given to us by our Lord God. Everyone has it. The conscience is the voice of God in a man's soul. The conscience is the foundation of morality in all humanity.
2. Can we look at animal actions from the moral view and why?
The actions of animals cannot be looked upon from the moral point of view, because they have no understanding of morality. Animals behave according to their nature or the way they were taught. Only man has knowledge of morality.
3. Which people can be called "people without conscience"
and what does the Gospel say about them?
People without conscience are those people who do not listen to their conscience. They put it to sleep and suppress it with lies and sin. The Gospel says that the conscience of these people has been burned. This happens when people do not listen to their conscience and continue to sin despite it. In such cases man slowly gets used to sin, until finally it does not bother him any more. Conscience, it may be said, has been burned.
4. How does the conscience act in the human's soul?
Human conscience has three functions:
1. Judge (approves, condemns)
2. Lawgiver (teaches how to act)
3. Executor (rewards, punishes)
The conscience acts in our soul as a judge; sometimes approving, sometimes disapproving or condemning.
The conscience also acts as a lawgiver. It requires morally right actions: do good, be truthful, do not steal, etc.
And lastly, the conscience rewards and punishes us. It is acting as an executor. When our action is good, we feel peace and satisfaction . When we sin, our conscience bothers us and we feel uneasy and suffer.
5. What is the Natural Moral Law?
The Natural Moral Law exists in the human soul and in man's nature. This Moral Law was placed into man's nature by the Lord God Himself. This can be proven by the fact that the concept of conscience is known to all humans. But Natural Moral Law does not give us a complete knowledge of morality. An example of this are pagans. Since they do not know God- revealed Law, the norms among pagans are cruder and uglier then in the true Christians who believe in the True God.
6. What is God-revealed Law?
God-revealed Law is God's Law that the Lord God Himself gave to us. It includes the 10 Commandments, the Beatitudes and Holy Scriptures. Actually the whole Christian teaching is the God-revealed Law.
7. What is the prevalent opinion about conscience in the Non-
In the present Non-Orthodox world, an attempt is made to extinguish the conscience, because it bothers sinful people. If a person feels the pangs of his conscience, a psychiatrist usually says that he is not guilty, that he is only a person, that other people also do that and similar things. This way, the human's conscience is slowly being killed and is extinguished. In psychotherapy the actions of a man are being conformed with society, and in Christianity the actions of man are being conformed with the Will of God, that is with God's Law.
1. With respect to sin, how did God create man at the creation?
At the creation of man, God created him according to His own image, that is sinless. That is, the first man, our forefather Adam, did not sin. When Adam committed the first sin, he became sinful. From him all humanity became infected with sin. This way all humanity inherited the inclination to sin. Besides this inclination toward sin, man added his own sins. The result of this is that every man is sinful and constantly sins. Even saints sin. The difference between people is only in the degree of our sinfulness. Only Jesus Christ Himself is sinless.
2. How does sin damage the man?
Sin is a spiritual sickness that damages the whole nature of man: soul and body. Sin damages all three basic capabilities of the soul: mind, feeling (heart) and will.
Mind became inclined to fallacies and errors. The result of this is that man is constantly making mistakes.
The heart is the center of our emotions and feelings: good and evil, sad and happy. It became sinful and instead of having pure feelings towards other people, we are unfriendly. The heart lost its capability to have pure, spiritual and Christian noble feelings. It became inclined to sensual sweetness and earthly attachments, infected with vainglory, luck of love and good will towards fellow man.
The will is the capability of action and implementation of the wishes of man. The will is damaged by sin, because now man often requires an effort to do good. It is difficult for man to do christian good.
3. How does sinfulness develop in man's soul?
The Holy fathers, the Christian ascetics, differentiate five stages of sin: "prilog", "sochetanie", "slozhenie", captivity ("plenenie") and passion ("strast"). We see that sinful downfall happens gradually. It is very important to know, that the man does not suddenly fall into a great sin, but gradually. From the first small and seemingly unimportant sin, he can fall farther and farther, until a sin becomes a habit, a second nature. This gradual movement applies to all sins, small and large: say laziness, lie, deceit, stealing or alcoholism and drug addiction.
The Church is always calling us towards sanctity, which is also achieved gradually. This means that the spiritual growth is also gradual.
4. What do the five stages of sin mean?
"Prilog" is when without man's wish and against his will, in his mind appear thoughts and even images that are sinful. If we immediately get rid of these sinful thoughts, then we still did not commit a sin. In this stage it is easiest to overcome the sin. When the "prilog" appears it is necessary to immediately get rid of it.
"Sochetanie" is voluntary thinking about the sin. Man is not doing the sin, but just thinks about the sin.
"Slozhenie" is wishing the sin. Man sometimes commits the sin, but still acknowledges his sin.
Captivity ("plenenie") is already when man commits a sin often, but still acknowledges his sin.
Passion ("strast") is when a sin becomes a habit, this is already slavery to the sin. The sin is committed easily and a man does not feel that he is sinning and he is even proud of it. In this stage it is hardest to overcome the sin. It is necessary to have the help of the Church prayer, fast and difficult warfare.
5. What does it mean: "ascetism in Orthodox Faith"?
Christianity is calling to correctly believe, correctly pray and live according to God's Law. To live according to God's Law means that whatever we are doing, saying or thinking should be in agreement with the holy commandments.
Besides this true apostolic Orthodoxy is calling for a struggle with our sinful habits, this is called ascetism. Our Church follows apostolic Orthodoxy and is calling us to for ascetic warfare. Other Christians nearly lost all understanding of ascetism. The ascetic methods are as follows: prayer, spiritual reading, confession, struggle with our sinful habits and fast. We should always struggle with our sinful habits and try to rectify them. This has to be done especially during lent.
In other words the Church is calling upon us to actively work to change our personality towards the better. The ascetic methods are practically unknown in the Protestant world and the world of the unbelievers. This is why they even have a saying: "You cannot change human nature". But Orthodox Christians, who are following ascetic practices, are doing exactly that. They are slowly changing and re- educating themselves for the better.
Some voices in society are saying that whatever man does, everything is "natural", all this is good, in other words you are "beautiful". Christianity teaches us that the man truly becomes beautiful inside and sometimes also outside, when he lives according to God's Law.
6. Lord Jesus Christ said:
7. What is the source of sin?
The source of sin is the body of man, the world that surrounds us and also the devil. The body is the source of immoral inclinations. The world that surrounds us sometimes is the source of sinful temptation. And, obviously, the biggest source of sin is the devil himself.
1. With respect to sin, how did God create man at the creation?
Virtue is the complete opposite of sin. Since Lord God created man according to His image, every person has an attraction towards good and towards virtue. In the purest and most perfect form it is offered by Christian teaching. The Orthodox Christianity is the purest and unchanged apostolic Christianity. From this follows, that the purest notion of virtue is preserved by Orthodox Christians. Under no circumstances does this mean that Orthodox Christians are better than others, only that they have an access to the correct Christianity. Unfortunately most of the Orthodox do not appreciate this and also are not aware of it.
2. What does Christianity teach about life on earth?
Christianity teaches that life on earth is a time of spiritual struggle ("podvig"). This is the time for the preparation for the future eternal life. The whole life of a Christian, with God's help, should be directed towards the good. He has to do good to other people and has to work on himself. This work consists of struggling with his bad sides and developing in himself, good Christian values.
3. In the Gospel it says:
"...THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN SUFFERETH VIOLENCE,
AND THE VIOLENT TAKE IT BY FORCE".
(Matthew 11:12 KJV)
What does this mean?
That means that in order to be saved and achieve the Kingdom of Heaven, it is necessary to exert this effort, and only those who do so, will achieve it. In other words in order to be saved and achieve the Kingdom of Heaven, it is necessary to exert this effort, it is necessary to correctly believe, correctly pray, live according to God's Commandments, do good, rectify our sinful habits, develop in ourselves Christian virtues and values, fast and so on.
One may note, that the Protestants believe, that in order to be saved it is necessary only to believe. This belief is totally against apostolic Christianity.
Note, that in this verse, the Russian Bible conveys better, the meaning of the struggle, than the KJV's Bible.
4. How does a person develop his moral personality and
establish his moral viewpoint and values?
This is done by leading a life of spiritual struggle ("podvig"). First of all a Christian has to be a Christian. This means that a Christian has to have established his moral standards and values and has to develop a corresponding personality. He has to constantly strive to improve himself (from the Christian point of view), that is strive towards moral perfection.
5. What is the life from the Orthodox Christian point of view"?
From the Orthodox Christian point of view, life is a spiritual struggle ("podvig"), a way of constant striving towards good and perfection. The law of spiritual life says that there is no stopping on this road. Since life is difficult and full of temptations, very often man with time becomes worse (in Christian sense). The person who constantly works to improve himself, with time becomes better.
1. What is the task of the human life on earth?
The task of the human life on earth is to prepare oneself for the eternal life and salvation. To achieve this, one must live without sin and follow the will of our Lord God.
2. How can a man find out the will of God?
A portion of God's Will can be found by means of conscience. This is why the conscience is called God's voice in the human soul.
3. What does the conscience reflect?
The conscience reflects the Inner Moral Law. But the conscience is not sufficient to use as guidance of our life firmly and without error. The mind, heart, will and conscience of a sinful man becomes damaged by sin. The result of this sinfulness is that the conscience has lost its clarity and strength.
4. What is God-Revealed Law?
In order to live by God's Law, because of man's sinfulness, it is not enough to use only the conscience. This is why Lord God gave us God-Revealed Law. God-Revealed Law was given in two forms: the Preparatory Law and the Full Law. The Preparatory Law is Moses's Old Testament Law. The Full Law is the perfect law of the Gospel.
5. What is Moses's Law?
Moses's Law has two parts: Religious-Moral and Religious- Ceremonial (ritual) parts. The Religious-Ceremonial part is connected with history and the life style of the Jewish people, and is no longer observed by Christians. The Religious-Moral part of Moses's Law are the 10 Commandments given by the Lord God to Moses in the Old Testament. These commandments are still valid and are obligatory for Christians.
6. How does Christianity teach us to understand the 10
Christianity teaches us to understand the 10 Commandments not externally-literally and not in the manner of obedience and external compliance. It opened their deep meaning and taught the perfect and full understanding and loyalty.
7. What is the most important characteristic of the Old
Testament and what is the most important characteristic of
the New Testament?
The most important characteristics of the Old Testament is that it was looking at man's actions from the external point of view. The most important characteristic of the New Testament is that it was looking at the heart of man and at his inner motives. In the Old Testament man obeys Lord God as a slave obeys his master, and in the New Testament, as a loving son who complies with his Father
8. What did Moses's Law do for the spiritual development of the
Several thousand years ago, the people were at a very low level of spiritual development. The morals and customs were rude and cruel. Moses's Law did not eliminate human cruelty and revenge, but it restricted them and established solid and strict boundaries for the morals.
9. What did the Gospel teaching do for the spiritual
development of the people?
The Gospel teaching eliminated the human cruelty and revenge. The most important commandments in the Gospel are love for God and your neighbor.
1. Does a man have a free will?
Man has a free will. Naturally he is effected by all kinds of external causes such as society, life style, political conditions, his education, his cultural development etc. But in a final analysis, despite all of the mentioned conditions, man has the freedom of choice. But he is responsible for his actions only if he can freely make choices.
2. Who are the Determinists?
The Determinists teach that man is not free to choose what he wants. That man is effected by all kinds of external causes such as society, life style, political conditions, his education, his cultural development etc., and finally that man obeys the strongest motive. This means that he has no free will. These philosophers hold that, to us, it only looks as if we are acting freely - in actuality we are only deceiving ourselves. Spinoza, the famous philosopher of the 16th century was a Determinist.
The teaching of the Determinists results in absurdity; that there are no guilty, and that everybody is a victim of circumstances.
Inconsistency of the Determinists can be seen from repentance. Since a man has the capability of repentance, it follows that he understands that he could have done differently. If man would have no free will and would be a slave of external circumstances then he would not be able to repent.
3. Are there people who have the personality of a Determinist?
In life, sometimes we can meet people who have a Determinist personality. Sometimes these people are not believers, or are superficial believers, without a solid outlook on life and with an unstable personality. These people can be effortlessly influenced and they easily change their mind.
The Orthodox-Christian is the complete opposite to these kind of people. He studied and he knows God's Law. In God's Law he has advice from the Lord God Himself, how to act in all lifes situations. He is not a saint, but he is trying to live without sin and if he falls, then he gets up, repents, and continues to try to live without sin. Since he lives according to God's Law, his outlook on life and his personality are stable, because they rest on a solid foundation.
4. Who are the Indeterminists?
The Indeterminists teach that man has freedom of choice. Although his actions are effected by many external causes such as society, life style, political conditions, his education, his cultural development etc. But, in the final analysis, he is free. Christians are obviously Indeterminists.
Therefore man has freedom of choice, his will is free to chose between different actions.
5. Who are the extreme Indeterminists?
The extreme Indeterminists feel that a man not only has a free choice, but he also has the right to do whatever he wants, without taking anybody or anything into consideration. This leads to complete anarchy, complete right to do according to any whim. Obviously this is not freedom, but taking advantage of freedom, this is the distortion of freedom. Man cannot have absolute unrestricted freedom.
6. How do Christians look at free will?
The Christians feel that man is morally free to chose this or that course of action; he has a freedom of choice between good and evil. This freedom is the greatest gift from the Lord God. The Lord God does not want us to obey Him automatically, but rather with free and voluntary compliance. Like the loving child listens to his father, so should we listen to our Father, the Lord God, and act according to His Holy Will. Do everything good and according to Christian love.
Very often we see that man, after traveling a life full of difficulties, achieves certain portions of God's Truth and comes to Him. The Lord God could very easily speed up this process, but He is not doing it. If He would do this, then man would not achieve with his own free will, but he would be simply the God's tool. The Lord God is helping us, but the choice and labor has to be ours.
1. How can we group the moral responsibilities of man?
The moral responsibilities of man can be grouped into three groups: responsibility towards himself, responsibility towards our fellow man and higher responsibilities towards the Lord God.
2. What is the most important responsibility of a Christian?
The most important responsibility of a Christian is to develop his spiritual personality, a true Christian Personality. When we believe, pray and live according to God's Commandments and coordinate our actions, words and thoughts with God's Law, we gradually develop a Christian Outlook on life, and Christian habits; in other words we gradually develop a Christian Personality.
3. What is the difference between an egotist and a Christian?
When a selfish person, an egotist, thinks about himself, he thinks about his pleasure and about his comfort. All this leads towards even greater selfishness. From the egotist's point of view he is taking care of himself. From a Christian viewpoint, he is ruining his soul, since he is becoming more and more selfish.
A person who fasts tries not to sin and actively struggles with his sinful habits, from the point of view of an egotist, is loosing his freedom. From the viewpoint of a Christian, he is perfecting his soul and he is moving towards holiness.
4. What does it mean: "The entire earthly life of a
Christian is a constant struggle for moral self-improvement.
And, of course, Christian improvement is not given to a man
at once, but gradually."
This means that in true Orthodox-Christianity, it is not enough to follow the Commandments of God's Law. Besides this, one has to actively struggle with his negative qualities, gradually improve himself, and develop positive Christian qualities. This is spiritual growth and it requires time.
5. What is said in the Gospel regarding perfection?
The Holy Gospel is calling us for self-improvement with the following words: "BE YE THEREFORE PERFECT, EVEN AS YOUR FATHER WHICH IS IN HEAVEN IS PERFECT". (Matthew 5:48)
6. What did St.Seraphim of Sarov say about advancing gradually?
St.Seraphim of Sarov said the following about gradual spiritual growth: "Do everything slowly, not suddenly; virtue is not a pear - you cannot eat it at once." In other words virtue, holiness, approaching holiness - all of these do not happen fast, but gradually.
7. What is being said about Christian self improvement?
Firstly, it is said, that the whole life of a Christian, is a constant struggle for moral self-improvement. Christian perfection is unattainably high, and man must always work on his spiritual personality.
8. Can a Christian feel that he has achieved perfection?
No, he cannot. A Christian has to be humble. For example Apostle Paul, despite the fact that he was spiritually on a very high level, felt that he was only trying to achieve perfection
1. What is the most important virtue and why?
The most important virtue is humility. In the very beginning of Beatitudes it says: "BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT: FOR THEIRS IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN." (Matthew 5:3 KJV). This means, that no other commandments are achievable, if we are proud, and if we have no humility.
The poor in spirit, does not mean a poor person, a beggar, who begs for money or food, because spiritually he can be a very bad person; lazy, drunk etc.
Poor in spirit, means the person who realizes that without God he is nothing. He realizes that everything that he has that is good, is not from him, but from God. All the evil: selfishness, pride, sensuality is from himself. This is the first step to become a Christian and the most difficult, for the presumptuous man; to admit that you are nobody. In Christian humility, man begins to live according to the advice of the Creator of the universe, the Lord God Himself and according to His Law. He begins to live according to His Truth, according to this great and wise teaching and in his humility he becomes strong, develops and can become a spiritual giant.
2. What does false humility mean?
False humility is shown by a man who on the surface is humble, but proud on the inside. This can be easily checked by how a person responds towards a friendly and good willed criticism. This kind of a person appears to be humble, but when he is shown his mistake and his sin, he becomes angry.
3. What do the Beatitudes say about weeping and what does it
The second Beatitude says the following: "BLESSED ARE THEY THAT MOURN: FOR THEY SHALL BE COMFORTED". (Matthew 5:4 KJV). (Translator's Note: In the Russian Bible instead of the word "mourn" stands word "weep").
This commandment says, that we have to weep, that is to feel sorry for our mistakes, for our sins. Besides this, this commandment says, that Christians have to carry their troubles, their Cross, with humility and that they will be comforted. The Lord God sends us troubles, in order to correct us, in order to direct us in the correct way. Those people who in their life are seeking only pleasure from Christian point of view, are unfortunate because in the race after the material thing and amusements, their souls became soiled and worse.
4. What do the Beatitudes say about the truth and what does it
The fourth Beatitude says the following: "BLESSED ARE THEY WHICH DO HUNGER AND THIRST AFTER RIGHTEOUSNESS: FOR THEY SHALL BE FILLED." (Matthew 5:6 KJV). (Translator's Note: In the Russian Bible instead of the word "righteousness" stands word "truth").
This commandment says that the people who are seeking God's Truth and are trying to live according to it, they will be satisfied. Partly they will be satisfied already here on earth, in our temporary life. But most of all, they will be satisfied in the future, in the eternal life. In the eternal life, everything will be according to God's Truth.
The example of satisfaction in our life, is when a father and mother lead and raise a family according to God's Law. In the home reins goodness, kindness, love, good will, hospitality. All of these favorably effect all members of the family and all of them are noted for abundance of good Christian qualities.
1. What does the Parable of the Lost Son (Luke 15:11-24) say?
The Parable of the Lost Son says, that one young man did not like his father's cares for him. He took from his father his portion of the property and went into a faraway country. Over there he spent everything he had by living foolishly. In order not to starve he had to take lowly work, taking care of pigs. Finally the son repented, returned back to his father and asked him for forgiveness. The father forgave his son and took him back in.
2. What does the Parable of the Lost Son (Luke 15:11-24)
The Parable of the Lost Son illustrates the process of the return of the lost person, back into the Christian path.
Very often after a person receives from God "his portion", he stops believing in God and forgets about Him. Then he starts wasting his spiritual and physical strength in empty amusements and pleasures. After a while the person starts feeling dissatisfaction with his empty life and starts to be attracted to God. Finally he repents and gradually returns back to Him.
3. What is a spiritual ladder or spiritual scale?
The concept of a spiritual ladder or spiritual scale helps us to understand the spiritual growth and spiritual fall of a man. On the top of the ladder is the Lord God. He is the absolute love, the absolute justice, the absolute beauty, the source of all virtues. On various levels of the ladder or scale, people are located. The closer they are to the Lord God, the closer they are to Him in their spiritual qualities. The farther they are from the Lord God, the lesser the amount of good qualities in them. Every person has his position on this ladder - scale. The Church teaches us that, whoever we are, wherever we are on this scale, we have to spiritually re-educate ourselves and gradually move up the ladder, towards the Lord God. If we do not pay attention to our actions, if we do not try to live according to God's Law, then we will slowly slide down. In our qualities we will move away from the Lord God.
1. What is the beginning of man's salvation?
The beginning of the life that leads to salvation, goes only through Jesus Christ and is given through the mystery (sacrament) of baptism. Baptism is the door through which a man enters the Church of the people who are being saved.
2. How does one obtain God's Kingdom?
God's Kingdom is obtained by making an effort, and only those who are making this effort are achieving it.
3. Which Church mysteries are the moments and the means of
sanctifying a Christian?
The Church mysteries which are the moments and means of sanctifying a Christian are as follows: repentance, communion, anointing, and various prayers and services. In them, Christians are receiving Holy Grace which facilitates the salvation.
4. What is synergism?
"Synergism" means cooperation. It explains the relationship between the Holy Grace and the personal effort in the salvation of a Christian. The salvation of a man is achieved, at the same time, through the action of the Divine Grace and through the personal efforts of the man himself.
The Lord God created man without his participation, but He cannot save him without his agreement and desire, since God gave him a free will.
1. What are the basic capabilities (or powers) that the
psychology recognizes in man?
The psychology recognizes in man three basic powers: the mind, feelings (heart) and a will.
By means of his mind, man learns about the surrounding world and life, and also about the conscious part of the experiences of his soul.
By means of his feelings (heart), the man responds to the impressions about the external world and to his own experiences.
The will is that part of the soul, by which man enters the world, and acts in it.
2. What does the Moral Personality of man depend on?
The Moral Personality of man depends on his personality and the direction of his will.
3. What is the task of man in regards to the development of his
One of the tasks of man is to develop his abilities: mind, feelings and will. It is necessary to develop his mind by obtaining and learning all kinds of sciences, then it is necessary to develop in himself the correct Christian feelings and a strong Christian will. All this is to be used for the good and for the glory of the Lord God.
4. Does Christianity relate only to the religious and moral
experiences and feelings?
Christianity is not only a sphere of religious and moral experiences and feelings. Christianity is a total and complete system, a body of existing knowledge. All kinds of knowledge that relate not only to religion and morality, but also to science.
Christianity is also a system of morality and faith. Faith is the richest philosophical system, that encircles and explains to man the world, himself and that shows him the true meaning and purpose of his life on earth.