To Make the Heart Right With God

10commadments“Orthodoxy calls upon us to exercise our free will in cooperation with God’s grace. It does not call upon us to act as puppets or robots to social convention or even to the words of divine revelation. If the mechanical fulfilment of the ten commandments or even the whole of the law could have made one ‘righteous’ or bestowed ‘holiness,’ there would have been no need for the Incarnation. No deed which does not proceed from the heart, motivated by love, has any actual moral value. Fulfilling the law out of fear, social pressure or any kind of self-interest could have no genuine moral value.

Fulfilling it unselfishly, motivated by love, would require a genuinely free choice that would reflect the image and likeness of God in us. We might choose to obey the written law simply out of fear of punishment, but we need love in order to freely, without coercion, choose to cooperate with divine grace. Cooperating with God’s grace does not place us in bondage to mechanical actions nor abolish our free will. We must still make free choices, even those informed by the grace of the Holy Spirit, which inclines us toward certain choices but does not force us to accept them. Choices made under coercion or fear are not accepted in the heart, not made ‘in spirit,’ they are not free. They may lead to ‘correct behavior’ but they cannot make the ‘heart right with God.’ ” (Archbishop Lazar Puhalo, Freedom to Believe, pp 14-16)