God is a consuming fire. When an object touches fire, it is changed: either it is burned up, or it is tempered.
So too, a man, in touching God, either perishes or is saved. Fire - always fire! But from contact with it either ashes or steel is obtained, depending on what is touched.
So too does it happen with a man, and everything depends on what he brings to the divine Fire - in what state he touches God. If he keeps himself like iron, the power of the iron becomes steel. If he lets himself go to the point of the weakness of chaff - he will burn up.
Each man, sooner or later, will inevitably touch God, and woe to him if he will not prepare for that meeting. Tolstoy carelessly, self-assuredly, and not in the fear of God, approached God, unworthily communicated and became an apostate.
The hour is coming, whether we like it or not, when contact with God's power will come.
The winnowing-shovel is in the Lord's hand. Grain and chaff are tossed up by the winnowing-shovel, and the wind carries away the latter, while the grain falls at the feet of the husbandman and is gathered into the granary; the chaff is abandoned or is burned up. The meeting with the Lord is unavoidable, and one must prepare for it.
Our sins are chaff, which is burned up at this meeting. One must pronounce judgement in advance upon oneself, and, preparing for that meeting, separate oneself from the chaff and burn up the chaff of sins by repentance.
Either they alone will be burned up, or the man who has given himself up to sin will himself burn with them.
One must know about the Dread Judgement and regard that day and event as he ought. One must cleanse one's soul, one must pray. One must regard that event clearly and consciously, and not like an animal that hides its head in order not to see the danger.