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On Pride
Excerpt from letters to spiritual children (1960)

Evil has not been created by God. Evil has no essence. It is a perversion of the natural world order (and in relation to men and angels the moral order) by the free will of men and angels. If there were no freedom, there would be no possibility to pervert the moral order, which is all-wise and perfect. Angels and men would have been subordinate to the laws of the physical and moral world like robots, and there would have been no evil. But without free will there would not have been in men and angels the image and the likeness of God. A perfect creature is unthinkable without free will. By the way, all atheistic teachings are forced to reject free will; they do reject it in theory, but in practice they allow its existence, because otherwise they would have had to admit in horror that man is an insignificant part of a huge soulless machine, which does not know and does not want to know anything about man, but pitilessly cripples and destroys him when the laws of this machine demand it.

A desire to be like gods, knowing good and evil, led to the fall of angels and men. From this point begins the history of mankind. To nurture a man in piety and love for God, in love for other men, without suppressing his free will, to elevate him to the dignity of a son of God that is a most complex task, absolutely insoluble for men, and one which demanded even from God a supreme sacrifice the incarnation, death on the cross and the resurrection of God Himself.

Man cannot be saved with pride. In the presence of pride he can again fall away from God, even in paradise, but fall this time with the finality of the demons. For this reason the Lord allows man to learn in the course of his entire life that without God he is nothing, that he is a slave of his passions and a slave of the devil. For this reason the Lord does not allow the chaff to be winnowed before death comes, in order not to damage the wheat. A man without flaws, with only positive character traits, would definitely become vain. If we are able to feel great pride from being in possession of even small virtues, what would happen if the glory of the souls divinity were revealed to us while still here on earth? Even Apostle Paul needed the negative help of an angel of Satan, buffeting him, in order not to esteem himself too highly. What, then, can be said of ourselves!.

Just as the Lord is trying to save man, so the devil is trying to destroy him. The devil allows man to think he has gained victory over him, and thus leads him into the sins of self-satisfaction and pride; allows him to succeed in conquering the forces of nature and thus instills in him the thought: Through science you shall conquer nature, you shall be immortal and will become godlike. Even now you can feel pride in your achievements The antithesis between these two trends is obvious. We can clearly see Gods concern for the salvation of man, and the devils attempts to destroy even those who use all their efforts to search for the one thing needful, i.e. the Kingdom of God. From the realm of theory this passes on to life itself, and man finds himself in a constant struggle with evil, with the devil, with his insinuations, first falling, then rising. In this struggle man comes to realize his frailty, the adversarys cunning, Gods help and Gods love for man. He learns the price of good and evil, and in all consciousness chooses good, becomes steadfast in his preference for good and its source the Lord God, and rejects evil and the devil.

Although he may still fall, although he may do evil, man realizes it as evil, as sin, condemns himself, repents, asks God for forgiveness, and thus even further affirms his preference for God and good, albeit in a negative manner.

Abbot Nikon (Vorobyev)

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