Saint Gregory the Theologian wrote: ‘God that created man, since the very beginning let him free and self-governing. He honoured man with self-government, so that good belongs to whom that he choses it not less than to the one who gave him the seeds of good. So that with self-government, i.e. with freedom, man becomes complete and his actions are not irresponsible. Each one of our actions obtains moral value because the involuntary is unstable, tyrannical and alien to the spirit of Christ.’
Consequently, there is no freedom without moral responsibility. Each and every day we receive various influences, but thanks to the gifts that God endowed us with, we have the ability and capability to take it upon ourselves and become responsible arbiters of our decisions.
Additionally, there can be no moral responsibility without freedom. He who denies freedom denies morality at the same time. Freedom is the ultimate pre-requisite of a virtuous, solid, noble life. A man must be free to chose whether he follows morality or not. The free man is the responsible man, and the responsible man is truly responsible if he is free.
Saint Anthony the Great wrote: ‘The always good and rich-giver God gave man the right and the freedom to do good or evil. He also gave him the knowledge to observe the world and the creations, and to know Him who created all for the sake of man. But to the ungodly and profane one it is allowed not to want to know God. With this donation, he can also be an unbeliever, he can fail to learn the truth and even think contrary to it. So much is the power that man possesses over good and evil.’
This great power implies great responsibility from our part!
Saint John Damascenus wrote: ‘Non-logical creations are not self-governed. They are driven by nature rather than driving nature themselves. That is why they don’t resist in natural hunger and, as long as they desire something, they immediately strive to enjoy it. On the contrary, man, because he is logical, drives nature rather than be driven by nature. So, when and if he desires something, if he wants, he has the power and the strength to put a check on his appetite or follow it. That is the reason why the non-logical creations neither are praised nor condemned/criticised, while the logical and free man is indeed praised or condemned/criticised’.
In His Second Coming, Christ will ask us about our deeds, for we are logical beings. He will not demand explanations from any other non-logical creation, as all non-logical creations are not privileged with the gift of freedom. So, our life is indeed in God’s hands, but it is in our own hands, too.
The demand for freedom independently of God leads to evilness, slavery, damage and death. Those who preach such a freedom actually use freedom as an excuse for evilness and disobedience. How can one promise freedom while at the same time himself is a slave to moral corruption and sin? Man must move inside the freedom that his Creator provided him with in order to be a winner. And he must always remember that the highest limit is the Creator Himself!
God is the source of our freedom. The more we learn the truth and willingly submit to it, the more free we become, according to the words of our Lord:
‘if you live according to my word, you are truly my disciple. and you will learn/acknowledge truth, and truth shall set you free‘.