The Word of God says that “the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Gen. 8, 21), which means that we are more prone to evil than good. But despite our moral corruption, the Providence of God, which is still bestowed on us, often suppresses or corrects the evil that arises in us, when we depart from goodness. It always wants to turn evil to good consequences. Unfortunately, for the most part, we treat these kind actions of God not only with neglect, but also with disloyalty. Let us say, a man has conceived some evil deed and begins to seek means to accomplish it; but suddenly he hears the voice of his conscience, or some other external obstacle appears, preventing the sin from happening. It seems that the only sensible thing for this man to do is to thank God for keeping him from sin and to start correcting his life. But alas! Instead, he only grumbles that he failed to carry out his evil intention, and begins plotting another way to quickly commit sin. This often causes a person to become more and more dissolute as he becomes older, sometimes completely wallowing in evil. Things would be quite the opposite if we were more attentive to God’s admonitions and the voice of our conscience.
One monk was once visited by the devil who inflicted some impure and tempting thoughts on him, eventually causing him to lose his way. Occasionally passing one Egyptian village, he met the daughter of a pagan priest. The monk was inflamed with passion and began to ask the girl’s father to let him marry her. The priest said that he would not decide anything until he asked his god, and then turned to a demon. “A certain monk” he said to him, “is asking to marry my daughter; Should I allow that?” The devil answered, “If he renounces his God, his baptism and monastic vows, let him marry her.” The monk fulfilled all three conditions, so the priest went to the demon again and told him that everything had been done as required. The devil answered, “Do not let him marry your daughter, because although he denied his God, his God has not left him and is still helping him”. After that the priest refused to allow the marriage. Having heard that, the monk came to his senses, repented and said, “If God has shown forth such grace on me, not ceasing to help me even after I denied Him, how can I possibly continue to draw His ire?” Immediately he returned to the wilderness. There he told everything that had happened to one of the great elders. The elder allowed him to stay in his cave and commanded him tearful repentance, prayer and fasting. The monk fulfilled this command and three weeks later received complete forgiveness through a miraculous vision. After that, he stayed with the elder for the rest of his life and was saved.
Oh, how blessed we would be if we were always attentive to the hints of our conscience and learned to gain the most glorious of victories, conquering ourselves! Oh, how greatly we would please God if, instead of multiplying our sins, we learned, at least somewhat, to crucify our flesh with passions and lusts! We would then come to our Heavenly Father with sincere repentance and a firm desire to leave the path of sin, saying in the words of the prodigal son, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants!” (Luke 15: 18-19) Truly, He would then open His arms and say, “I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist” (Isa. 44, 22). Amen.
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds
Source: Viktor Guriev. Synaxarium in Sermons for Each Day of the Year