SYMEON-iconConfession is nothing other than the admission of our debts and, therefore, a deep awareness of our falls, that is, a decrial of our poverty and foolishness.

[…] Listen now to what it is that we have received from Him…:

deliverance from condemnation, sanctification from defilement, advancement from darkness to His ineffable light,

the possibility of becoming His children and sons and inheritors through divine baptism and to be clothed with God Himself, and to become His members and to receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in us.

[…] He makes us like Himself and crafts us into His brethren and co-inheritors.

To those who are being baptized, all these things are given directly by baptism, which are called by the divine Apostle “divine riches and inheritance” (Col. 1:12; Eph. 3:8; 2 Cor. 4:7).

The commandments of the Master were given as guardians of these ineffable graces and gifts and they encircle the believer all about like a wall, creating a safe haven for the treasure hidden in his soul.

And they sustain it and make it inaccessible to all enemies and thieves.

However, we think that it is we ourselves who labour under the burden of keeping the commandments of a man-loving God; but we are unaware of the fact that it is we, rather, who are guarded by them.

For he who keeps the commandments of God does not sustain and guard them but guards himself from visible and invisible enemies, the innumerable entities which the Apostle Paul spoke of: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spirits of wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12), in other words, which are found in the air and are always invisibly arrayed against us.

Therefore, he who keeps the commandments is himself protected by them and cannot lose the riches, which God has entrusted in him. But he who disdains the commandments stands exposed before the enemies and is easily defeated by them.

And having lost all these riches, he is in debt to the King and Master for all the things we spoke of which are impossible for man to pay back or even to find. For these are heavenly and He came from heaven. And He comes every day and brings them and distributes them to the faithful.

Where could those who had once received them but also lost them possibly find them again? Truly nowhere.

Just as neither Adam, nor any of his sons, was able to restore himself or remake his relatives, it would have been impossible had not God, Who is above all being, become Adam’s son according to the flesh, our Lord Jesus Christ, and come and raised up both him and us from our fall by His divine power.

Symeon the New Theologian (949–1022 AD): Epistle on Confession, full translation and introduction @ Discerning Thoughts, from Saint Symeon the New Theologian: The Mystical Life, volume III (St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Popular Patristics Series).

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