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Evil Thoughts

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