Maximus_ConfessorSince the deceitful devil at the beginning contrived by guile to attack humankind through his self-love, deceiving him through pleasure, he has separated us in our inclinations from God and from one another, and turned us away from rectitude.

He has divided nature at the level of mode of existence, fragmenting it into a multitude of opinions and imaginations.

He has set up the means through which each vice may be discovered, and with time established a law, to which all our powers are devoted, introducing into everything a wicked support for the continuance of vice— namely, irreconcilable inclinations.

By this he has prevailed on humankind to turn from the natural movement he once had and to move his longing from what is permitted to what is forbidden.

Thus humankind has brought into being from itself the three greatest, primordial evils, and (to speak simply) the begetters of all vice: ignorance, I mean, and self-love and tyranny, which are interdependent and established one through another.

For out of ignorance concerning God there arises self-love. And out of this comes tyranny towards one’s kin: of this there is no doubt. For by the misuse of our own powers—reason, desire and the incensive power—these evils are established.

For reason, instead of being ignorant, ought to be moved through knowledge to seek solely after God; and desire, pure of the passion of self-love, ought to be driven by yearning for God alone; and the incensive power, separated from tyranny, ought to struggle to attain God alone.

And the divine and blessed love, which is fashioned from these and through which these come to be, will embrace God and manifest the one who loves God to be God himself.

Since these have turned out evil, because of man’s own will and the devil’s deceit with regard to human beings, God, who made nature and wisely healed it when it was sick through wickedness, through his love towards us, emptied himself, taking the form of a slave (Phil. 2:7), and without change united himself to this [nature] hypostatically.

For our sake and from us and through us he became wholly man to such a degree that unbelievers thought that he was not God, while existing as God to such a degree that to believers was granted the ineffable and true meaning of reverent religion.

In this way the works of the devil were dissolved, and nature restored to its pure powers, and by again bringing about union with him and of human beings with one another, God renewed the power of love, the adversary of self-love.

Maximus the Confessor (580-662): Letter 2: On Love in Andrew Louth: Maximus the Confessor (Routledge, 1996), pp. 84-85.