Another letter from Igumen Nikon (Vorobyov) to a spiritual daughter; written in 1952.
Revealing itself to me more and more is the deep fallenness of humanity and, in turn, the meaning of our Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ. Deeds can in no way save any soul; there is only one salvation: Christ, who saves those who believe in Him and know their need for a Saviour, that is, they consider themselves sinners and unworthy of the Kingdom of God. It is such sinners which Jesus Christ came to call to repentance and salvation.
All of humanity, every person, is in a state of fallenness and depravity. Man, alone, cannot correct, or save himself and become worthy of the Kingdom of God. The Lord Jesus Christ corrects man, for this He came into the world; but He corrects those who believe in Him and who come to know their own depravity, or, as we are more accustomed to say, their sinfulness. The Lord says, “I came not to call the righteous (that is, those who consider themselves righteous or good) but sinners to repentance” [Matt. 9:13]. Namely those who have seen their own depravity and sinfulness, their powerlessness to correct themselves and who turn to the Lord Jesus Christ for help, or rather, implore the Lord for mercy, the cleansing of the wounds of sin, and leprosy of the soul, and for the gift of the Kingdom of God only by the mercy of God, not according to any of our good deeds.
The one who walks the spiritual path correctly sees more and more within themselves sins until they finally see with spiritual eyes that they are completely covered in sin, with leprosy of the soul. They feel, with all their heart that they are dirt and filth, unworthy to even call upon the name of God. Only like the tax collector, not daring to lift their eyes, with pain of heart they call out, “God, have mercy on me a sinner.” Being in this spiritual state for a long time, man will, in time, go away justified, as did the tax collector.
If a man considers himself good, seeing certain individual sins, even serious sins, as accidental, in which he is not guilty but sees outward circumstances, other people or demons to blame, while he is little to blame then this attitude is false, a clear state of hidden prelest; Lord protect us from this.
In order to walk along the true path it is necessary to observe yourself, to measure your deeds, words, thoughts, desires, etc. against the commandments of Christ, to not justify yourself in any way, to strive to correct yourself as much as possible, to not accuse or judge others, to repent before the Lord, to gradually humble yourself before God and man, then the Lord will gradually reveal to you your fallenness, your depravity, your non-payable debt. One owes 500 dinarii, another 50, but all the same they both don’t have any way to pay. [Matt 10:24]
The Lord has to forgive one and the other by his mercy which means there is not one righteous person, not one which does not need the mercy of the Saviour.
And this is the wisdom of God! A blatant sinner will sooner humble himself and turn to God to be saved than an externally righteous man. Therefore, the Lord Jesus Christ said that tax collectors and sinners will enter the Kingdom of God before the externally righteous.
According to the great wisdom of God, sins and demons contribute to man’s humility, through which is salvation. And here is why the Lord didn’t command to pull out the tares from the wheat; for without the tares pride would appear, and God resists the proud [James 4:6]. Pride and high-mindedness are death for man.
What can we conclude from this? Get to know your weakness and sinfulness, don’t judge anyone, don’t justify yourself, humble yourself and the Lord will raise you up in due time.
God be merciful to us sinners. Forgive and pray for me.