The Lord desires the salvation of each and every person. But not everyone wants to be saved. In word they all desire it, but in deed they reject it. How do they reject it? Not through sin, because there were many great sinners, like the thief, Saint Mary of Egypt and others. They repented of their sins and the Lord forgave them, and thus they achieved salvation. The ones who perish are the ones who sin but do not repent and only justify their transgressions. That is the worst, most deplorable state. The Lord says I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32).
What does this mean? God’s word says, There is none righteous, no, not one…they are together become unprofitable (Rom. 3:10,12). Everyone is a sinner, and the more holy a person is the more he notices his own sins. The very reason the Lord came was to call sinners to repentance (i.e., those who consider themselves sinners and ask forgiveness), and to grant them salvation through repentance. However, God shuns those who do not see their sins or try wickedly to justify themselves. For this reason, while He was on earth the Lord condemned the Pharisees, who considered themselves to be righteous and even an example to others. Such an attitude is frightening.
Saint Sisoes the Great, on his deathbed, asked that the angels which had come for his soul to pray that the Lord would grant him a longer earthly life for repentance. Saint Poemen the Great said: “Believe me, brothers, where the devil will be, there I shall be thrown also.” And he (Peomen the Great) raised people from the dead! In this way, all God-pleasers wept over their sins, over their insolvent debt to God, even unto the end of their days.
Then who are we to hide our sins out of self-live? Who are we to make excuses, to connive, when one of our feet is already in teh grave? Examine your entire life, repent of all the sins that you are aware you committed. With tears and prostrations ask just as the church does: “Grant me to see mine own failings.” If a person is unableto see his sinfulness, it does not mean that he has no sins. It means not only that this man is a sinner, but that he is also spiritually blind. And if a spiritual father or another person accuses us of certain faults, we should not attempt to justify ourselves, but rather beg the Lord to reveal our sins to us and give us the opportunity to repent of them before death and to receive forgiveness here during our earthly existence.”
Elder Nikon Vorobiev “Letters to Spiritual Children” Ch.43