By: Archimandrite Sophronius (Sakarov)
He who is made in the ‘image’ of God is made for life ‘after His likeness’, also. The man who has found salvation in God receives life in the likeness of God’s own life. God is omnipresent and omniscient, and the saints in the Holy Spirit receive a likeness of that omnipresence and omniscience. God is Light, and the saints in the Holy Spirit become light. God is Love encompassing all that exists, and the saints in the Holy Spirit embrace the universe in their love. God is All-Holy, and the saints in the Holy Spirit are holy. Holiness is not an ethical but an ontological concept. A man is not holy because his morals or conduct are good, or even because he leads a righteous life in the sense of devoting himself to spiritual endeavor and prayers- indeed, the Pharisees kept the fasts and made ‘long’ prayers. But that man is holy who bears within himself the Holy Spirit. The One God is Truth and Life, and those who communicate in the Holy Spirit become true and have life; whereas those who fall away from God suffer spiritual death and depart into ‘outer darkness’.
To say that man who was called into life out of nothingness by a creative act of God does not possess eternal life within himself does not mean that in dying he returns to nothingness, to non-existence. Gifted with freedom, when he turns away from God he leaves Light and Life for perpetual death and outer darkness; but this darkness and death do not correspond to that nothingness, that non-existence, out of which the creature was called into being. It is the ‘state’ of the ‘reasonable being’ indestructible in his nature Turning away from God, the creature, however, cannot find any realm inaccessible to Him. Even in hell Divine love will embrace all men, but, while this love is joy and life for them that love God, it is torment for those that hate Him.
Excerpt taken from the book: St. Silouan the Athonite