First, we develop thoughts – “rational suggestions combined with corresponding images and stimulations, brought in either by sight or by hearing, or even by both” (Met. Hierotheos, The illness and cure of the soul, p. 164). Second, the thought is associated with a conflict between it and the freedom to choose, of the individual. Third, assent is provided by the individual to the thought, putting into practice. Once assent is given, desire follows. Fourth, sin is committed and passion – irrational love or hatred – develops. Such is the process of sinning, for humankind.
The origins of thoughts that can cause one to sin
- The natural will and the flesh;
- Imagination, elicited by input through the senses;
- Deviations of the soul;
- Demonic provocations.
Thoughts are either simple or complex, with the latter necessarily involving passion. Meanwhile, good thoughts can also originate, with these coming from the Holy Spirit of God, the angels, and the saints/blesseds. Hence, effective discernment is paramount, in determining the source and spiritual consequences of thoughts; with this area of practice falling under the jurisdiction of spiritual fatherhood.