What does it mean to live a spiritual life? How can we be saved? These are the topics that Prof. Osipov discusses in his talk “Foundations of Spiritual Life”.
Here are the key signs of true spiritual life, according to Osipov.
1) We need to understand our sinfulness. Yet the phrase `I am a sinner’ has lost its true meaning in the modern language; too many people say it without understanding. Osipov suggests a different way – we must understand how ill we all are. Only then we can understand our absolute need for a doctor. Who feels this way? Almost nobody. Many Christians prefer to think of themselves as basically good people who try to live according to God’s commands. Wrong, says Osipov! As long as you see yourself this way, you don’t need Christ. Healthy don’t need doctor and will never accept Jesus for who he truly is. Until we can see how envy tortures us, how much we depend on approval of others, how money exercise the power over us – until we can see and feel this we cannot claim to be Christians.
So many say “We don’t feel God’s presence in our life”. Very simple, says Osipov, this is because you don’t need him. Or you need him for something else (blessings, help, encouragement) rather than for the most important thing – to heal you from your sin. How often do we pray, asking “Father, help me to get rid of my envy!”?
2) We must obey God’s commands. No, Osipov does not say we can fully do so. But believing in Jesus and not living according to his commands is self-deceit. In Osipov’s opinion, oh so many problems in Christianity (heresies, wrong teaching, deviations from correct practice) stem from people claiming to be Christians but practicing disobedience.
But the main reason behind obedience is not to achieve perfection, it is to get a better view of your imperfections. To the one who obeys will be open a new world, the world of his own sinful passions, this incurable corruption that penetrates deep inside our soul. Why was I happy today when I learned about my bonus but suddenly became unhappy after realizing a colleague’s bonus was even larger? Why, when trying to help somebody financially I wanted others to notice this? Why? Osipov says that they only way we can notice this dirt inside our souls is by simple obedience to God’s commands.
3) Prayer. It is remarkable what people in the history of the church have been able to achieve by praying. Teresa of Avila reached the deepest stages of intimacy with Jesus. Francis of Assisi, a first person to experience stigmata, prayed all his life to experience the sufferings of Christ. `Nonsense’ says Osipov to all of these examples. That is the wrong emphasis of prayer! Jesus never intended for us to re-live his sufferings or treat him literally as a husband. He wants our obedience! We need to pray to God to heal us from our sinfulness!
I will mention a few of my own thoughts on the topic in my next post. Meanwhile, please share you thoughts on these points!