Evil does not exist by nature, nor is any man naturally evil, for God made nothing that was not good. When in the desire of his heart someone conceives and gives form to what in reality has no existence, then what he desires begins to exist. We should therefore turn our attention away from the inclination to evil and concentrate it on the remembrance of God; for good, which exists by nature, is more powerful than our inclination to evil. The one has existence while the other has not, except when we give it existence through our actions.
St. Diadochos of Photiki
If a person knows the glory of God, he also knows the ferocity of the enemy. If a person knows the kingdom, he also knows Gehenna. If a person knows love, he also knows hatred. If a person knows the wrath of passion, he also knows the hatred of the world. If a person knows purity, he also knows the stench of impurity. If a person knows the fruit of the virtues, he also knows the fruit of evil. The one rejoices together with the angels because of his works. The other knows that the demons rejoice because he has carried out their work.
If you do not flee from the enemies, you will not recognize their ferocity. How will you recognize the love of money unless you renounce it and live in great poverty for the sake of God? How will you recognize the bitterness of envy unless you acquire gentleness? How will you recognize the disturbance of anger unless you acquire forbearance in everything? How will you recognize arrogance unless you acquire humility? How will you recognize the stench of evil unless you know loving-kindness? How will you recognize the disgrace of scandal unless you know yourself to be inferior? How will you know the rudeness of laughter unless you know compunction? How will you know the disturbance of despondency unless you order, perceive, and contemplate the light of God?
Abba Isaiah of Scetis, Ascetic Discourses
Let us therefore, be attentive ourselves, brothers. Are we as attentive when we work hard and lose ourselves in our labor by our negligence, unaware that our enemy is in us, flattering and gnawing away at us every day, not allowing our eyes to contemplate anything of light and divinity?
Examine yourself,wretched one, who has been baptized into Christ and His death. What sort of death is it that He died? If you follow His footsteps, show me your way of life. His sinless and presents Himself to you in everything. He has walked in poverty. He did not make a place to rest His head. You, however, do not joyfully endure being a stranger. He endured insults but you cannot bear any injury. He has not returned evil for evil, you cannot resist returning evil. He was not angry when He suffered. You, on the other hand, are irritated when you do suffer. He was not distressed when someone insulted Him, but you become agitated, even when someone is not insulting you. He humbled Himself, comforting those who sinned against Him. You injure with words even those who love you. He joyfully tolerated afflictions but you are disturbed by the least new unpleasantness. He, He was with those who had fallen but you, you are arrogant to those who expiate you. He was handed over for those who had sinned against Him, in order to ransom them. You are incapable of giving anything, even for those who love you.
See what He has given you. What do you give Him in return? Know Him through His works and you through yours. If you have died with Him, who commits these sins?
Abba Isaiah of Scetis, Ascetical Discourses
If someone says “I weep over my sins”, but commits another, he is foolish. If he says “I weep over my sins”, but keeps another (sin), he is deceiving himself. The person who searches for quietness, but does not take care to remove the passions, is blind to the holy building of the virtues. The one who ignores his sins but is anxious to correct another is lazy in his requests of the heart and his exhortations to God.
Abba Isaiah of Scetis
There is a sin which is always ‘unto death’ (1Jn 5:16): the sin for which we do not,
repent. For this sin even a saint’s prayers will not be heard.
St. Mark the Ascetic; On Those Who Believe They are Made Righteous by Works, v 44, The Philokalia
Someone was asked, ‘When will a man know that he has received the remission of his sins?’ He answered, ‘When in his soul he becomes conscious that he has completely hated them with his whole heart, and when he governs himself in his external actions in a manner opposed to his former way of life. Such a man, as having already hated his sin, is confident that he has received remission of his sins by the reason of the good witness of his conscience which he has acquired, after the saying of the Apostle, “A conscience is a witness of itself.”
St. Isaak the Syrian
People who have received grace are as if impregnated and with child by the Holy Spirit; but they may abort the divine seed through sinning, or divorce themselves from God through intercourse with the enemy lurking within them. It is the turbulence of the passions that aborts grace, while the act of sinning deprives us of it altogether. A passion- and sin-loving soul, shorn of grace and divorced from God, is the haunt of passions – not to say of demons – in this world and the next.
St. Gregory of Sinai, Philokalia