In the Virtues Levels Book by Youhanna Klimakos, there are 30 steps of which most are maybe about the monastic life…
As for the spiritual life in general, there are a least three main steps and they are: Life of Repentance, Life of Holiness, and Life of Perfection.
And each of these steps has many details and branches. As for the Repentance, because he beginning of the Lord Christ’s preaching was his saying: “the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk 1:15). He also said: “unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Lk 13:3, 5).
And about Holiness, the apostle says: “but as He
who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your
conduct, because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy”
(1 P 1:15, 16) (Lv 11:44).
And about Perfection, the Lord says in His
sermon on the mountain “Therefore you shall be
perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Mt
_The Life of Repentance:_
If the sin is a separation from God and a
controversy with Him, then repentance is the
beginning of reconciliation with God. As the
apostle says: “be reconciled to God” (2 Co 5:20).
Repentance, then is the beginning of a new pure
relationship with God. It is a transfer from darkness
to light, and a return from the far country to the
And repentance is preceded or is prepared
for through: Knowledge and God’s fear:
One’s knowledge that He is the God’s son, and
created on the image and according to the likeness of
God, so it is inappropriate for him to sin, his
knowledge that he is a temple for God’s Spirit, and
God’s Spirit dwells in him (1 Co 3:16). It is
inappropriate for him, with his sin, to grieve the Holy
Spirit of God (Eph 4:30),… And his knowledge also
that through sin, he makes God angry with him, and
he puts himself to God’s anger and punishment on
Earth and in Heaven…
Therefore, from all his heart he fears the Lord’s
saying: “unless you repent you will all likewise perish”
(Lk 13:3, 5).
And all this admits God’s fear in his heart so he
does not sin.
And the bible talked about God’s fear and it was
said that “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of
wisdom” (Ps 111:10). And “The fear of the LORD is
the beginning of wisdom” (Pr 9:10). And it is
obvious that the man, while committing the sin, does
not have God’s fear in his heart or before his eyes.
And no one should say “We have to love God, not
to fear Him”. As the apostle says “There is no fear in
love; but perfect love casts out fear” (1 Jn 4:18)… so
whom of us reached the perfect love level?! The Lord
says: “he who loves Me, keeps my commandments”
and “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in
My love” (Jn 15:10).
So we walk in the fear, and the fear at the
end will take us to God’s love.
He who loves God does not sin. And if he stays
away from sin, he reaches God’s love. Or God pours
love in his heart through the Holy Spirit.
And repentance should be comprehensive,
covering all sin types with all their details: I mean the
body sins, the senses sins, the thought sins and the
mind and intentions sins.
And repentance is not only refraining from
sin in action.
Maybe the person stops doing this sin, but it still
exists in a heart desire, so he sins in his heart, and
did not repent yet… Or the sin may be existing in his
intention without him doing it! Or in his dreams
because his subconscious is not purified yet! And St.
Jerome said “There may be people who have chastity
in their bodies while their souls are committing
adultery!!”. Therefore, the fathers said:
“The perfection of repentance is the hatred
And he who hates the sin, the sin desire is not in
his heart, in his intention, in his thinking nor in his
subconscious, but he is totally purified, and so he
does not sin…
And we say that about all sin types… and so he
has moved from the negatives attached with sins to
the positive sides of repentance.
And he who repents does not go back to the sin
because he who does maybe is in a mere trial to
repent and not in a full comprehensive repentance.
Therefore, the true repentants, like St.
Moses the Black, St. Augustine and Mary the
Coptic… transferred by growing in repentance
to the life of holiness.
The repentance in their life is a full transformation
point, and a full change from a life to another,
without regretting and without return… but with all
Someone said about the relation between the
servant and the served ones:
“When I love them, O Lord, like You love the,
and when I love them like You loved me and out
Yourself for me, at that time, I am entrusted on their
Yes my brothers, the service of others, in any
mean, is necessary in the life of virtue, and an
evidence of loving our neighbor, which is a branch of
the full love that the all the Law and the prophets
hang on, and the biggest factor of this love is leading
others to the Kingdom, and working on saving their
It was said about the great virtues: “faith, hope
and love but the greatest of these is love” (1 Co
13:13). So what about the virtue of hope in your life?
And what about faith?
I do not mean by faith our repeating the Orthodox
Creed. But I mean your practical faith: Your belief
that God sees all what you do, hears all what you say,
and knows all what you feel and think of. Also the
faith in which you believe in God’s keeping you,
because the believer does not get afraid, but says as
in the psalm: “though I walk through the valley of the
shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with
me;” (Ps 23).
The one who grows in the life of holiness, reaches
the life of perfection:
_The Life of Perfection:_
And we mean relative perfection: relative to
the human abilities and his level, and relative to
the grace God grants him.
As for the absolute perfection, it is for God
And the person grows in perfection, and moves
up from one level to another, because “for one star
differs from another star in glory” (1 Co 15:41). And
in it God grants the gifts of the Holy Spirit as they
came in (1 Co 12)… And continues and completes in
their hearts they worked on fixing what was resulted
by their sins like what Zakka the chief tax collector
did and said: “and if I have taken anything from
anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold” (Lk
And the signs of repentance of humility and
contrition appear in the repentant’s life:
Like Prophet David who drench his couch with my
tears (Ps 6). And contrition appeared in so many of
his psalms… And like St. Augustine who published his
confessions in a book that was read by generations in
which he mentioned what he imagines about (the
sins) of his early childhood… And like the lost son
who, in his repentance, said to his father: “and am no
longer worthy to be called your son” (Lk 15:21).
_The Life of Purity and Holiness:_
It is a higher level than repentance because it is
the positive side of the life of virtue.
And in it the statement “who do not walk
according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Ro
8:1) is applicable on believers, according to their pure
spirits and the work of the Holy Spirit on them.
And from here the man is called spiritual,
and appears in his life the fruits of the Holy
And St. Paul the apostle said: “But the fruit of the
Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Ga
5:22, 23). And who of us, my brothers, mastered all
these virtues and made them a system for his life?
One of them which is (love), the apostle
explained its details in (1 Co 13) and said:
“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not
envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;
does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not
provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in
iniquity…” until his said “Love never fails.” (1 Co
13:4-8). So, whom among us has all these
And out of the importance of love, the Lord’s
said about it that the all the Law and the
prophets hang on love, and it had two parts:
“You shall love the LORD your God with all your
heart… You shall love your neighbor as
yourself” (Mt 22:37-40).
This is the love that never fails, whom of us has
reached this level? And whom of us “loves his
neighbor as himself”? Or who applies the statement
“love does not seek its own”? And who applies the
statement “Greater love has no one than this, than to
lay down one's life for his friends” (Jn 15:13). Here is
the level of holiness that the lord says about: “Be
holy, for I am holy”.
So, if one did not reach the level of love that puts
itself for others, so at least one should try to reach
the level of love that serves others, and I mean
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