How do we begin a Orthodox Way of life?
All Christians are called to receive and create within themselves a new life in Christ. We are called to a rebirth. A change in our world view. We are called to seek union with God, to become like God, theosis. We are instructed to do His will “on earth as it is in heaven.” We need to break the grip of all the negative forces of society on us. These negative forces want us to believe only in ourselves to separate us from God. We must live in a secular world, but we must not be bound by its assumptions. We must make bold steps to establish a clear boundary between ourselves and “the world” and openly renounce these negative forces for they are not the work of God and will mislead us.
Baptism is the Beginning
Once we have accepted God and have faith in Him and His Church, our path to salvation starts with our Baptism and Chrismation.
Our Lord Jesus Christ told Nicodemus, “Most assuredly I say to you unless one is born of water and Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). It is not merely just being “born again.” The sacrament of Baptism originated from the early Church. This is clearly supported by the following verses: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). On the day of Pentecost, after hearing the words of St. Peter about baptism they, “gladly received his word, were baptized, and that day about 3,000 souls were added to them” (Acts 2:41). If faith alone were sufficient, what was the need to baptize 3000 souls! Similarly, the Philippian jailer who accepted faith through St. Paul and St. Silas, ”immediately he and all his family were baptized.”
The first thing that is done in the sacrament of Baptism is to renounce the devil with the prayers of exorcism. There are three prayers.
The first reads:
...On the Cross He vanquished the opposing powers; when the sun went dark and the earth trembled, when the graves were thrown open and the bodies of the Saints arose, He annihilated death by dying, and overthrew you, the Evil One, who held sway over death...
Through us He puts you under edict. Fear Him and begone; depart from his creature, never to return. Neither conceal yourself in him (her), nor confront him (her), nor seek to influence him (her), by day or by night, at dawn or at noonday. But get you hence to your own infernal regions until the great Day of Judgment which has been ordained.
Be in awe of God, Who is seated among the Cherubim and looks on the deeps...
Begone, depart from this soldier newly enlisted now marked for Christ our God... For glorified is the Name of the father, and of the Son and of the Holy spirit, no and forever, and to ages of ages. Amen.
So we begin our Orthodox Way of Life with a renouncing of the devil and a surrender to God and His Church. To surrender means we must follow the will of God and not our own will. Christ gave us two very clear moral commandments. The first was to love God with our whole heart, soul and mind. The second was to love one’s neighbor as oneself. To follow these commandments requires self-sacrifice, struggle and endurance.
Baptism is a death and a new birth in Christ. It is a surrender to God and to the Church which is the Body of Christ on earth. This surrendering is like planting a seed in the earth.
The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. (Mark 4:26-28)
We begin with as surrender to Church and God which are one and the same. Remember that the Church is the mystical body of Christ on earth.