We carry about with us impassioned images of the things we have experienced. If we can overcome these images we shall be indifferent to the things which they represent. For fighting against the thoughts of things is much harder than fighting against the things themselves, just as to sin in the mind is easier than to sin through outward action….
‘Put to death therefore whatever is earthly in you: unchastity, uncleanness, passion, evil desire and greed’ (Colossians 3:5). Earth is the name St Paul gives to the will of the flesh. Unchastity is his word for the actual committing of sin. Uncleanness is how he designates assent to sin. Passion is his term for impassioned thoughts. By evil desire he means the simple act of accepting the thought and the desire. And greed is his name for what generates and promotes passion. All these St Paul ordered us to mortify as ‘aspects’ expressing the will of the flesh….
First the memory brings some passion-free thought into the intellect (nous). By its lingering there, passion is aroused. When the passion is not eradicated, it persuades the intellect to assent to it.Once this assent is given, the actual sin is then committed. Therefore, when writing to converts from paganism, St Paul in his wisdom orders them first to eliminate the actual sin and then systematically to work back to the cause. The cause, as we have already said, is greed, which generates and promotes passion. I think that greed in this case means gluttony, because this is the mother and nurse of unchastity. For greed is a sin not only with regard to possessions but also with regard to food, just as self-control likewise relates to both food and possessions.
~St Maximos the Confessor