by Nikita Grigoriev (excerpts from “Faith And Delusion” pp. 2-5)
Faith in General
What exactly is faith? Faith is the power of the soul consisting of a synergetic blend of the intellect (reason), the heart (desire) and the will (driving force). This is the most fundamental manifestation of all the properties of the soul, originating, directing and completing all intentions and acts. Faith is completely natural and is an inherent property of all conscious beings. Without any faith whatsoever it is impossible to function even on a most elementary level. It manifests itself as a certain trust, sureness or confidence, expectation and even love. But this is not yet faith in God. This faith is not spiritual but physical or material and is altogether appropriate and even necessary with regards primarily to oneself, to others, to ideas and even to objects. Without this natural faith in oneself, it would be impossible to even get up from a chair and walk across the room. Without such faith or trust in builders of bridges, for instance, we would be overcome by terror each time we had to cross the bridge. Without such a faith in a currency we would find it extremely difficult to use it. This faith does not have a moral element since it does not include the notion of absolute good and evil. Such a faith is appropriate to a setting where a certain confidence in suppositions exists based on prior experience and rational deduction. But faith in God is a matter of a different order altogether.
Faith in God
God is spirit. And the spirit of God is the Spirit of Truth. This is the Holy Spirit, the third person of the indivisible Holy Trinity. This Truth is God’s Truth and it is not relative, subjective or circumstantial but absolute, universal and eternal. This Truth is the foundation of reality. Truth is that which is real. A falsehood is something that is not real. A lie or a deceit is a conscious depiction of some thing or situation as being real which actually is not the case or does not exist in reality. In other words, a lie is that which is not.
Truth is that which is. God is Truth and His being is therefore necessary. In fact, the existence of everything else and of the entire universe is contingent on God’s being. Christ God said that “I am the Truth” and the apostle John, the Theologian, taught that He is the source of all being. Moses asked God what His name is, and God answered “I am He who is”. God is the essence of being and the source of all being. He is the source of life and immortality. God brought all that exists into being out of non-being.
God is also the spirit of love and of compassion. But first He is the Spirit of Truth. Because without truth, there is neither true love nor true compassion. Love must be based on truth. If it’s based on a lie or on deceit, it’s not real.
Satan is called the father of lies, of deceit, of slander. He is the master of illusion and of all that is not. He hates reality and life itself and longs for non-being. Satan’s conflict is with God, the source of being and of truth. The battlefield is the human heart. The struggle is spiritual. It is between the spirit of truth and the spirit of lies in the heart of man.
Every person has been granted complete freedom to choose between truth and lies, between the Truth of God and the lies of Satan. A person decides what he or she is going to believe in this respect. It is this free choice that gives the decision a moral dimension. This is why when Christ commanded His Apostles to go and preach the Gospel to all creation, He added that those who do not believe will be condemned.
Faith in God is the foundation of spiritual life. It hinges most directly on the precept of good and evil and accordingly, it is of a willful origin. Genuine and true faith in God is the fundamental good from which all other good proceeds. Unbelief in God is the fundamental evil from which all other evil proceeds. Why is faith in God the foundation of all good? This is because it is based on a free good will and conjoins a person through Grace with the very Source of good, God Himself.
Animals are incapable of not believing in God or of not loving Him. They are incapable of not submitting to Him, and so they cannot have a spiritual life, because they do not possess a moral element within a free will. Their will is only partially free since it functions only in mundane situations and is mainly determined by circumstances.
The spiritual free will is completely free. It defines a person as a being created in the image of God. The choice is free: to believe in God and love Him with all one’s being above all else (the First Commandment), to trust God completely and submit to Him with joy and trembling; or not to love Him, to oppose Him and even enviously desire that He not exist, and in His place see a human (specifically, oneself).
The Canaanite woman (Matt.15: 22-28; Mark 7: 25-30) is an example of exercising free will in choosing to become humble or be proud, to believe or not to believe. When Christ answered her “for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs” (Mark 7:27), many would have been offended, i.e., they could not have humbled themselves. In order to keep the faith it is indispensable to become humble, for humility is the passionless and realistic assessment of our personal situation before God and people, the sincere understanding of our total unworthiness.
Stubborn unbelief proceeds from an evil will, for it is based on the lie of pride and self-justification. Pride is a lie because it gives a proud person a false impression of his importance, righteousness and independence. Unbelief is a lie because it refutes Truth, God Himself; likewise, unbelief is evil for it rejects the source of all good – God Himself. Unbelief is the sand and quagmire on which mythology and every sort of false philosophy is built without the possibility of true knowledge and understanding merely fading like nightmarish specters into the eternity of darkness.
True faith in God is a spiritual light, brighter and more brilliant than any natural light, for it unites man with the source of light not made by human hands – God. Saints are people who are so filled with the Light of God that they themselves shine brighter than the sun and are depicted on icons with a halo, to symbolize this. Faith is the conductor which is necessary so that the power of God’s Grace can descend upon man. True faith in God is that fundamental driving force unto which all the material powers and all laws of nature are in subjection. True faith in God is that rock on which true knowledge and understanding are built.
Finally, true faith in God is God’s gift to a pure heart that sincerely desires it. This is God’s gift to a good and free will that is ready to demonstrate courage and decisiveness in seeking Him and also God’s gift to the mind which has humbled and bowed itself down sufficiently in order to enter through the extremely narrow gates into the Kingdom of Faith, into the joy of God, into the Heavenly Kingdom.