Let us beseech God that he would divest us of the old man, because he alone is able to take away sin from us, they being stronger than us that have taken us captive, and detain us prisoners in their own kingdom.
But he has promised to rescue us from this sore bondage.
As when the sun shines, and the wind blows, the sun indeed has a distinct nature of his own, and the wind likewise another nature, and yet no man is able to make an actual separation of the wind from the sun unless God alone shall make the wind to cease, that it may blow no longer; even so is sin blended with the soul, although both retain their own nature.
It is impossible therefore to separate the soul from sin, unless God make a calm and put a stop to this evil wind which dwells in the soul and body.
And again, as a man that sees a bird flying may desire also to fly himself, but not having wings, it is impossible he should fly; just so a man may be willing to be pure, and without blame, and without spot, and to be always with God; but he has not wherewithal to compass it.
He is willing to fly up into the divine air, and into the liberty of the Holy Spirit; but, unless he receive wings for his purpose, he can never do it.
Let us therefore beseech God that he would give us “the wings of the dove”, his Holy Spirit, that so “we may fly to him and be at rest”;
and that he would separate the evil wind, and cause it to cease from us both in soul and body: for he only is able to bring it to pass.
It is only “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world”. He alone it is that showed this mercy to them that believe in him, that they are redeemed from sin.
And for those that wait for him, and hope in him, and seek after him, will he work this unspeakable salvation.
Macarius the Egyptian (c. 300-391); extracted from Spiritual Homily 2, trans. by the Revd D.R. Jenning; full text, with corrections and editorial, at the Monachos.net Library Project.