2. Wishing to show that to fulfil every commandment is a duty, whereas sonship is a gift given to men through His own Blood, the Lord said: 'When you have done all that is commanded you, say: "We are useless servants: we have only done what was our duty"' (Luke 17:10). Thus the kingdom of heaven is not a reward for works, but a gift of grace prepared by the Master for his faithful servants.
3. A slave does not demand his freedom as a reward; but he gives satisfaction as one who is in debt, and he receives freedom as a gift.
4. 'Christ died on account of our sins in accordance with the Scriptures' (I Cor. 15:3); and to those who serve Him well He gives freedom. 'Well done, good and faithful servant,' He says, 'you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many: enter into the joy of your Lord' (Matt. 25: 21).
5. He who relies on theoretical knowledge alone is not yet a faithful servant: a faithful servant is one who expresses his faith in things Christ through obedience to His commandments.
6. He who honours the Lord does what the Lord bids. When he sins or is disobedient, he patiently accepts what comes as something he deserves.
7. If you love true knowledge, devote yourself to the ascetic life; for mere theoretical, knowledge puffs a man up (cf. I Cor. 8:1).
(. . .)
11. Those who, because of the rigour of their own ascetic practice, despise the less zealous, think that they are made righteous by physical works. But we are even more foolish if we rely on theoretical knowledge and disparage the ignorant.
12. Even though knowledge is true, it is still not firmly established if unaccompanied by works. For everything is established by being put into practice.
13. Often our knowledge becomes darkened because we fail to put things into practice. For when we have totally neglected to practise something, our memory of it will gradually disappear. [For the preceding two instructions cf. James 1:22-24]
14. For this reason Scripture urges us to acquire the knowledge of God, so that through our works we may serve Him rightly.
15. When we fulfil the commandments in our outward actions, we receive from the Lord what is appropriate; but any real benefit we gain depends on our inward intention.
16. If we want to do something but cannot, then before God, who knows our hearts, it is as if we have done it. This is true whether the intended action is good or bad.
17. The intellect does many good and bad things without the body, whereas the body can do neither good nor evil without the intellect. This is because the law of freedom applies to what happens before we act.
18. Some without fulfilling the commandments think that they possess true faith. Others fulfil the commandments and then expect the Kingdom as a reward due to them. Both are mistaken.
19. A master is under no obligation to reward his slaves; on the other hand, those who do not serve him well are not given their freedom.
20. If 'Christ died on our account in accordance with the Scriptures' (Rom. 5:8; 1 Cor. I5: 3), and we do not 'live for ourselves', but 'for Him who died and rose' on our account (2 Cor. 5:15), it is clear that we are debtors to Christ to serve Him till our death. How then can we regard sonship as something which is our due?
21. Christ is Master by virtue of His own essence and Master by virtue of His incarnate life. For He creates man from nothing, and through His own Blood redeems him when dead in sin; and to those who believe in Him He has given His grace.
22. When Scripture says 'He will reward every man according to his works' (Matt. 16:27), do not imagine that works in themselves merit either hell or the kingdom. On the contrary, Christ rewards each man according to whether his works are done with faith or without faith in Himself; and He is not a dealer bound by contract, but God our Creator and Redeemer.
23. We who have received baptism offer good works, not by way of repayment, but to preserve the purity given to us.
24. Every good work which we perform through our own natural powers causes us to refrain from the corresponding sin; but without grace it cannot contribute to our sanctification.
From The Philokalia, vol. 1 (London: Faber & Faber, 1979), pp. 125-127.