Orthodox confessors should respect a person’s free will, just as Christ did, according to Optina Elder Schema-Archimandrite Ilya Nozdrin.
Could the Lord not have saved Judas from betraying Him? He could have, of course. Then why did He not? Because this could only have been done by violence. Forcing someone is impermissible for God, for God’s holiness. A compulsory good cannot be good. After all, why was the Savior crucified? He could make the world ideal, with no flaws on earth, leaving man in need of nothing, of neither armies nor offices. But the Lord could do this only by force, by breaking people’s free will. But He did not do this, leaving open the opportunity for people to choose between good and evil independently.
Our social life gives a person ready knowledge, culture, and experience – but it is left up to him how to use it. It is the same thing in the spiritual life. The Lord gives us – through His redemptive mission, through the Cross – the opportunity to overcome our weaknesses and to do battle with the devil. Yet we can take advantage of this opportunity only by our free will. The Lord created the universe for us; He gave us laws by which to live; He gave us water, food, and everything necessary. But just how to live in this world depends primarily on our own will, labor, and knowledge. Therefore, it is important that life be based on both the fulfillment of Divine precepts and on free human choice.
Schema-Archimandrite Eli (Nozdrin), confessor of the Optina Monastery’s brethren, is one of the most renowned and respected spiritual fathers in the Russian Orthodox Church today.