“And not many days after,” it says, “the younger son gather all together, and took his journey into a far country” (Luke 15:13). Why did [the Prodigal Son] not set off at once instead of a few days after? The evil prompter, the devil, does not simultaneously suggest to us that we should do what we like and that we should sin. Instead he cunningly beguiles us little by little, whispering, “Even if you live independently without going to God’s Church or listening to the Church teacher, you will still be able to see for yourself what your duty is and not depart from what is good.” When he separates someone from the divine services and obedience to the holy teachers, he also distances him from God’s vigilance and surrenders him to evil deeds. God is everywhere present. Only one thing is far away from His goodness: evil. Being in the power of evil through sin we set off on a journey far away from God. As David says to God, “The evil shall not stand in thy sight” (Ps. 5:5).
“Let us flee from those who reject patristic interpretations and attempt by themselves to deduce the complete opposite. While pretending to concern themselves with the literal sense of the passage, they reject its godly meaning. We should run away from them more than we would from a snake, for when a snake bites it kills the body temporarily, separating it from the immortal soul, but when these evil men get their teeth into a soul, they separate it from God, which is eternal death for that soul. Let us escape as far as we can from such people, and take refuge with those who teach piety and salvation in accordance with the traditions of the Fathers.”
+ St. Gregory of Palamas, Homily 34, On the Holy Transfiguration of Our Lord and God and Savior Jesus
The demons attack the person who has attained the summits of prayer in order to prevent his conceptual images of sensible things from being free from passion; they attack the gnostic so that he will dally with impassioned thoughts; and they attack the person who has not advanced beyond the practice of the virtues so as to persuade him to sin through his actions. They contend with all men by every possible means in order to separate them from God.
“If we detect any trace of hatred in our hearts against any man whatsoever for committing any fault, we are utterly estranged from love for God, since love for God absolutely precludes us from hating any man.”