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Concerning Repentance and Spiritual Warfare

December 11, 2009

Concerning Repentance and Spiritual Warfare

Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov)
The whole of our earthly life, from birth to our last breath, in its final conclusion will appear as a single act without duration in time. Its content and quality will be seen at a glance. Imagine an absolutely clear glass filled with water. One look will tell whether the water is clean or not, and if dirty, how dirty. So will it be with us when we cross into the other world. Every impulse, however transient, of our heart, every thought, leaves its mark on the general sum of our life. Suppose that just once during the whole course of my earthly existence an evil thought crossed my mind – murder, for instance [cf. Matt. 15:19]. This single thought will leave a black spot on the body of my life, unless it be wiped out by repentant self-condemnation. Nothing can be hidden: “There is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known” [Luke 12:2-3]. We often reassure ourselves with the thought that nobody saw us, no one knows what we think or do. But when we begin to strive our utmost to prepare for eternity, everything is different and we yearn to be rid of all that is soiled within us.
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” [1 John 1:8-9]. Through sincere repentance and vigorous self-conviction before God and our fellows the inner man is cleansed – the water in the glass, passed through the spiritual filter of repentance, becomes pure again. Hence, when I confess, I charge myself with every evil, since I cannot find any sin in the whole world that I have not committed, if only by permitting it to flash through my mind. The very possibility of such an impulse of my spirit shows my sinful state. And who can be quite sure that he is beyond the reach of wicked ideas? And where is the guarantee that the moment when a bad thought comes to me I will not be transmuted into eternity ?
So long as we have life there is the possibility of reformation; but what happens to us after we depart hence, we do not yet know. On the material plane a mass, given a sufficiently powerful thrust, can theoretically, once it has left the sphere of gravity, fly at great speed for ever in infinite cosmic space. Will it not be thus with the soul? Drawn by love for God, having left the body, the soul will go to God; or, contrariwise – having discarded God, she will be “cast out into outer darkness” [Matt. 8:12], into the never-ending torment which is opposite of a state of love. Therefore,in so far as far as we are able to see ourselves, we must thoroughly confess our sins lest we carry them with us after we die.
“His Life is Mine” (SVS) 1997, p.71-72
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