Beliefnet
Reprinted from Philokalia: The Eastern Christian Spiritual Texts with permission of Skylight Paths.

We will not be punished or condemned in the age to be because we have sinned, since we were given a mutable and unstable nature. But we will be punished if, after sinning, we did not repent and turn from evil ways to the Lord; for we have been given the power to repent, as well as the time in which to do so. Only through repentance shall we receive God’s mercy, and not its opposite, his passionate anger. Not that God is angry with us: he is angry with evil. Indeed, the Divine is beyond passion and vengefulness, though we speak of it as reflecting, like a mirror, our actions and dispositions, giving to each of us whatever we deserve.
St. Theognostos
II, On the Practice of the Virtues, Sec. 47



When you fall from a higher state, do not become panic-stricken, but through remorse, grief, rigorous self-reproach, and, above all, through copious tears shed in a contrite spirit, correct yourself and return to your former condition. Rising up again after your fall, you will enter the joyous valley of salvation, taking care so far as possible not to anger your Judge again, so as not to need atoning tears and sorrow in the future. But if you show no such repentance in this present life, you will certainly be punished in the age to be.
St. Theognostos
II, On the Practice of the Virtues, Sec. 48



Those who deliberately refuse to repent sin continually; those who sin without meaning to not only repent with all their heart, but also do not often have cause to repent.
Ilias the Presbyter
III, A Gnomic Anthology, Sec. 14



If from the start we had wanted to keep the commandments and to remain as we were when baptized, we would not have fallen into so many sins or have needed the trials and tribulations of repentance. If we so wish, however, God’s second gift of grace—repentance—can lead us back to our former beauty. But if we fail to repent, inevitably we will depart with the unrepentant demons into agelong punishment, more by our own free choice than against our will. Yet God did not create us for wrath but for salvation (cf. I Thessalonians 5:9), so that we might enjoy his blessings; and we should therefore be thankful and grateful toward our Benefactor. But our failure to get to know his gifts has made us indolent, and indolence has made us forgetful, with the result that ignorance lords it over us. We have to make strenuous efforts when we first try to return to where we fell from.
St. Peter of Damaskos
III, A Treasury of Divine Knowledge, Introduction



Even if you are not what you should be, you should not despair. It is bad enough that you have sinned; why in addition do you wrong God by regarding him in your ignorance as powerless? Is he, who for your sake created the great universe that you behold, incapable of saving your soul? And if you say that this fact, as well as his incarnation, only makes your condemnation worse, then repent; and he will receive your repentance, as he accepted that of the prodigal son (Luke 15:20) and the prostitute (Luke 7:37-50). But if repentance is too much for you, and you sin out of habit even when you do not want to, show humility like the publican (Luke 18:13): this is enough to ensure your salvation. For he who sins without repenting, yet does not despair, must of necessity regard himself as the lowest of creatures, and will not dare to judge or censure anyone. Rather, he will marvel at God's compassion.
St. Peter of Damaskos
III, A Treasury of Divine Knowledge
That We Should Not Despair Even If We Sin Many Times



It is always possible to make a new start by means of repentance. “You fell," it is written, “now arise" (Proverbs 24:16). And if you fall again, then rise again, without despairing at all of your salvation, no matter what happens. As long as you do not surrender yourself willingly to the enemy, your patient endurance, combined with self-reproach, will suffice for your salvation. “For at one time we ourselves went astray in our folly and disobedience,” says St. Paul. “... Yet he saved us, not because of any good things we had done, but in his mercy” (Titus 3:5). So do not despair in any way, ignoring God’s help, for he can do whatever he wishes. On the contrary, place your hope in him and he will do one of these things: either through trials and temptations, or in some other way which he alone knows, he will bring about your restoration; or he will accept your patient endurance and humility in the place of works; or because of your hope he will act lovingly toward you in some other way of which you are not aware, and so will save your shackled soul. Only do not abandon your Physician.
St. Peter of Damaskos
III, The Great Benefit of True Repentance



For these good things we ought all of us always to give thanks to him, especially those who have received from him the power to renew their holy baptism through repentance, because without repentance no one can be saved. For the Lord has said, “Why do you call me, Lord, Lord, yet fail to do the things I tell you?” (Luke 6:46).
St. Peter of Damaskos
III, How It Is Impossible to Be Saved Without Humility



In this way everyone may know that when he argues he is outside of all the churches and estranged from God. He has need of that one marvelous act of repentance, and if he fails to make that genuinely, and so remains unrepentant, not even a thousand prostrations will help him. For repentance, properly speaking, is eradication of evil, says St. John Chrysostom; while what are called acts of repentance or prostrations are a bending of the knees, which expresses the fact that the person who bows sincerely before God and man after having offended someone assumes the attitude of a servant. By doing this he can claim in self-defense that he has not answered back at all or attempted to justify himself the least of all men and unworthy to lift his eyes to heaven (Luke 18:11-13). For if he thinks he is repentant and nevertheless attempts to refute the person who—rightly or wrongly—is judging him, he is not worthy of the grace of forgiveness, since he acts as if he seeks a hearing in court and the opportunity to justify himself, hoping to achieve what he wants through due process of law. Such behavior is entirely at odds with the Lord's commandments…. In such a case grace is no longer our guiding principle—the grace that justifies the ungodly without the works of righteousness (Romans 4:5), but only on condition that we are grateful for rebukes and endure them with forbearance, giving thanks to those who rebuke us and remaining patient and unresentful before our accusers. In this way our prayer will be pure and our repentance effective. For the more we pray for those who slander and accuse us, the more God pacifies those who bear enmity toward us and also gives us peace through our pure and persistent prayer.
St. Peter of Damaskos
III, A Treasury of Divine Knowledge


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