The devil, on the contrary, impedes our intellect, not letting it devote itself to divine love through the remembrance of what is good, but enticing the senses with earthly desires.
For the intellect that dwells undistractedly in the love and remembrance of God is the devil’s death and, so to say, his noose.
Hence it is only through the first commandment, love for God, that genuine love for one’s brother can be established, and that true simplicity, gentleness, humility, integrity, goodness, prayer and the whole beautiful crown of the virtues can be perfected.
Much struggle is needed, therefore, and much inward and unseen travail, much scrutiny of our thoughts and training of our soul’s enfeebled organs of perception, before we can discriminate between good and evil, and strengthen and give fresh life to the afflicted powers of our soul through the diligent striving of our intellect towards God.
For by always cleaving to God in this way our intellect will become one spirit with the Lord, as St Paul puts it (cf 1 Cor. 6:17).
Those aspiring to the state of virtue must strive to fulfill the commandments by sustaining this inward struggle, travail and meditation unceasingly night and day, whether praying or serving, eating or drinking, or doing anything else.
In this way, if any good comes about it will be to God’s glory and not to their own.
The fulfillment of the commandments presents no difficulty or trouble to us when it is facilitated by the love of God and when this love relieves it of all that is burdensome.
As has been said, the whole effort of the enemy is directed towards distracting the intellect from the remembrance, fear and love of God, and to turning it by means of earthly forms and seductions away from what is truly good towards what appears to be good.
[...] The first and highest elements of our constitution – the intellect, the conscience, the loving power of the soul – must initially be offered to God as a holy sacrifice.
The firstfruits and the highest of our true thoughts must be continually devoted to remembrance of Him, engrossed in His love and in unutterable and boundless longing for Him.
In this way we can grow and move forward day by day, assisted by divine grace.
Then the burden of fulfilling the commandments will appear light to us, and we will carry them out faultlessly and irreproachably, helped by the Lord Himself on account of our faith in Him.
Symeon the Metaphrast (10th century?): Paraphrase of the Homilies St Makarios of Egypt, 1,13-15. Text from G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Kallistos Ware (trans. and eds.) The Philokalia: The Complete Text, vol. 3 (Faber & Faber, London & Boston: 1979).