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marina beating a demon sketchEverything begins from the mind and the imagination. There is no sin or virtue that does not have its origin and beginning in the imagination of the mind.

The first evil and sinful thought, primarily the ensuing sinful images are the origin of all the various forms of sin. No sin takes place with actions unless an evil thought is formed with the imagination beforehand.

In the beginning, sin approaches subtly like a sly fox. Cunningly and quietly it assaults us and convinces us that it is nothing more than an ant, and, consequently, it does not require attention. If the soul remains indifferent, in following, this microscopic ant in no time turns into a ferocious lion that cannot be tamed, and the soul is faced with a great struggle.

First, submission to sin takes place internally, and in following it is externalized through the body.

Elder EphraimAll the evil begins when a person gives in to his imagination and allows sinful thoughts to prevail. When a person suffers many such spiritual shipwrecks and is repeatedly wounded by sinful mental images, every time the devil returns and presents similar images to the mind, man is immediately taken captive. For this reason, it is necessary to remain unyielding so that passions and fantasies do not take root within us and do
not become stronger.

When people reach the point of being enslaved to a passion, they protest and state, “I cannot resist. I can’t do anything during the time of temptation.” The answer is this: It is necessary to take the appropriate measures before the mind and heart become disarmed and enslaved. We must take the necessary precautions in order to avoid the danger; because once we have been poisoned we are no longer able to take any action.

(Source)

Three Temptations