Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

The Life of Repentance and Pure Heart

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"Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart" (2 Timothy 2:22).

We all wish for many things but not everything we wish for we get. Why? Some reasons may be due to lack of our resources, our weak ability to follow up our plan, the worldly desires in our hearts.

As Christians we wish for hearts of purity but we do not want to put the effort to acquire it. Our life is full of excuses, due to our life's demands, our lifestyle, and others' expectations.

We care more about how others will perceive us or say about us than our relationship with God. The people around us look to a religious person as he is out of his mind, weak, too boring, etc… Therefore many people, especially the youth, do not want to be associated with that look. Thus they separate themselves from the church or they limit their worship to where they meet with the group of worshipers.

Loving God with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength does not mean that we walk in the world weak and boring. Our God asks that we guard our hearts from the act of sin. And you can show the love of God by your smile, the way you conduct yourself with honesty and integrity and being willing to help others.

A pure heart is so precious to God, and the more you acquire it the more you love to be with God and follow His plan for you.

Now the question is how do we develop a pure heart?

There are steps to develop a pure heart but most of all you have to have the will, the determination, and the perseverance.

1) Repentance: is the only way to cleanse your heart from the act of sin after you have been baptized. In the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-31, we see how careless the son was and how he wasted all his inheritance on worldly sins but when he came back to his senses he said, "How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.'" (Luke 15:17-19).

  • Return to God
  • Heart of zeal
  • Spiritual awakening
  • Cleansing the heart of sin

Here the repentance brought back the person to God and freed him from sin and Satan's control over him, through repentance God will work in us and give us a clean heart.

"Jesus answered them, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.'" (John 8:34-36).

Repenting will move your heart to a better place and the Holy Spirit will work in you to guide you to the next step which is refusing the act of sin and going towards abiding with God, unless the repentance was not from the heart but due to no ability to sin because the environment, being shy, too busy, scared to being caught, etc.

How we can reach that level of repentance?

  • Sit with yourself and search your heart
  • Do not find excuses and justification
  • Do not postpone your repentance
  • Stay away from the things that cause you to sin
  • Confess and partake of Holy Communion regularly
  • Pray and fill your heart with God's words
  • Ask God to grant you power to over come

Also repentance will teach you to have a merciful heart toward others and pray and help them to overcome.

2) The purity of the heart: it is a life process and does not end until the Lord grants us the complete freedom of sin in heaven. So how can we reach the purity of the heart? It is the work of us and God, the more you work on abstaining from gossiping, cleanse your mind from thinking worse of others, or thinking about situations that has no benefit in your spiritual maturity the more God will help you and grant you the fruit of the spirit that help you to overcome.

Why God does not help us to gain the fruit of the spirit without us going through this?

The heart needs so many adjustments to be able to have the simplest attitude, full of humility, childlike, and transformed into Christ's likeness; otherwise the heart will end up full of pride from all the blessing that God will give to us through our journey. "O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the spirit by the works of the law, or the hearing of faith. Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flash?" (Galatians 3:1-3).

Many people who started their lives with God fell in many temptations due to their pride and instead of starting over and thanking God for this grace and mercy, they kept sinning and left their cross. Remember that Satan started his life as a shining angel and was full of purity and end up what he is now.

How to obtain the purity of the heart when we are living in this world?

God wants us to live in the world have a family, education, get married, have children, and a career. But He also wants us, as we feed our body, give Him all His needs. Therefore we should have time to spend with God every day on a regular basis and give ourselves time to examine ourselves and pray for God to give us help to overcome temptation and work in us.

Therefore God's grace will surpass our expectation if we are willing to give time and effort and love for Him and others. May the Lord open our hearts to realize how desperate we are for His love and mercy.

Written by
Nagwa Abdou

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