If we’re allowed to say… the human soul became a little hell. As we live, move or act in this world, each one of us is wearing his own mask and communicates through it, yet deep down in our soul, it is as dark as it can possibly be. If we do not put out the old man, if we are not been reborn, what would it follow?
We must not be surprised or confused when we see man, in critical times, revealing this image as the evil within comes out. When someone is not reborn in Christ, if the body and soul do not become temples of the Holy Spirit, although this part of the soul remains “protected” [by the mask], no matter how hard he tries to cover it, one day will come out. And it will come out not to vanish but to hurt, to reveal the evil power that reigns within.
Many descended into hell – millions of people – including the prophets and the righteous men of God, from Abel to Christ Himself, still hell remained hell. We can say as we study things, that we believe in the truth of the Gospel of Christ, and try to improve ourselves, to be transformed by it. Of course this has importance, as it ought to produce a change within us that only Christ can do, by descending into the hell He conquered.
To note that the Orthodox icon of the Resurrection is not depicting Christ standing over the grave, but it shows Him in hell, crushing all its power. In this depiction of the Resurrection, there are fallen gates, bolts, nails … Nothing was left as it was. Everything was shaken, the gates were opened, and the souls freed to come out.
So it is with the human soul: if Christ doesn’t enter, nothing will change. Certain truths we receive and believe, but alone are not enough as we filter them through our own understanding, because at a final analysis this does not change the old man.
As Christians, we believe in the truths of Christ’ Gospel, go to church, commune, and all we have gained – especially in the recent times – is [spiritual] comfort.
So we have found “a method” – and how did this happen?- that the old man, the idol within remains intact. Our inner state remained intact, and we have become Christians on the surface!
(Archimandrite Simeon Kraiopoulos, in “The Mystery of Salvation”)