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Wednesday. [Gal. 6:2–10; Mark 7:14–24] From within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, de?ceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blas?phemy, pride, foolishness. Here com?mon sins are listed; but all the rest also, both large and small, proceed from the heart, and the form in which they proceed are evil thoughts. The first seed of evil falls as a thought to do this or that. Why and how does it occur? Part of these occurrences can be explained by known laws of the combining and linking of ideas and images, but on?ly part. Another, most significant part comes from the self-propelled irritation of the passions. When a passion lives in the heart, it cannot not demand satisfaction. This de?mand is revealed in an urge for something or other; with the urge is united with some or other object. From here comes the thought: “That is what I must do.” Here the same thing happens as, for example, when one is hungry: feeling hunger, one feels an urge for food; with the urge comes the thought of the food itself; from this follows obtaining this or eating that. Third, perhaps a bulkier part, proceeds from unclean powers. The air is filled with them, they dart around people in packs, and each according to its kind spreads its influence around itself onto people with whom it comes in?to contact. Evil flies from them like sparks from a red-hot iron. Where it is readily accepted the spark takes root, and with it the thought about an evil deed. Only by this can one explain why evil thoughts arise for unknown reasons, in the midst of activities which decisively are not related to them. But this variety of reasons does not make for variety in terms of how to react to evil thoughts. There is one law: an evil thought has come — cast it out and the matter is finished. If you do not cast it out the first minute, it will be harder the second minute, and the third minute yet harder; and then you will not even notice how sym?pathy, desire, and the decision will be born; then the means will ap?pear… and sin is at hand. The first opposition to evil thoughts is sober?ness, and vigilance with prayer.
Saint Theophan the Recluse