Sin, Gehenna, and death do not exist at all with God, for they are effects, not substances. Sin is the fruit of free will. There was a time when sin did not exist, and there will be a time when it will not exist. Gehenna is the fruit of sin. At some point in time it had a beginning, but its end is not known. Death, however, is a dispensation of the wisdom of the Creator. It will rule only a short time over nature; then it will be totally abolished. Satan’s name derives from voluntarily turning aside from the truth; it is not an indication that he exists as such naturally.
Spiritual virtue is the daughter of the will’s virtue, and necessarily so. Therefore free will, not bondage, is the natural power of reason. But when it is diverted to one side or the other and stays there, then it gives birth to another power that does not belong to its natural state. When this is born, free will is ruled by, and in servitude to, compulsion, and I dare say that it is bound and has no dominion over itself. Before this, compulsion was a matter of the will, but now compulsion has enslaved the will. This, I say, can be seen on both sides, whether a man enslaves himself to the right or he gives way to the left. The intellect, however, which can see keenly, is able to perceive in every instance how compulsion subdues free will when this power not found in nature is born of voluntary subjugation. I do not mean here the pwer that is born of habit, which is very difficult to withstand, but that which is called ‘the vindicator’. At any rate habit is subject to the will, although it is a laborious thing to resist habit. Apart from this we know of two powers: one enslaves the will, but the other prevails upon nature itself and even has authority to alter nature. This power, which is an energy that overrides nature, is known to those who have expreienced it.
St Isaac the Syrian. Extracts from Ascetical Homily 27