If carrying out the law does not make you pure in the sight of God (cf. Galatians 2:16), then neither will ascetic struggle and labor alone perfect you in God’s sight. We do indeed receive our grounding in virtue and check the activity of the passions through ascetic practice; but we are not initiated into the fullness of Christ through that alone. What, then, brings us to perfection? An ingrained faith in God, the ‘faith that makes real the things for which we hope’ (Hebrews 11:1), the faith whereby Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain and was commended as righteous (cf. Hebrews 11:4), and whereby Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out and sojourn in the promised land (cf. Hebrews 11:8).
It is such faith that fills those assiduous in the search for truth with great aspiration for the exalted gifts of God, and leads them to the spiritual knowledge of created beings; and it pours into their hearts the inexhaustible treasures of the Spirit, enabling them to bring thence new and old mysteries of God (cf. Matthew 13:52) and to reveal them to the needy. He who is blessed with such faith is initiated by love into the knowledge of God, and has entered into God’s rest, having ceased from all his labors as God did from His (cf. Hebrews 4:10).