Very little is known about the details of Maximus' life prior to his involvement in the theological and political conflicts of the Monothelite controversy.
 Numerous Maximian scholars call substantial portions of the Maronite biography into question, including Maximus' birth in Palestine, which was a common seventh century trope to discredit an opponent. Moreover, the exceptional education Maximus evidently received could not have been had in any other part of the Byzantine Empire during that time except for Constantinople, and possibly Caesarea and Alexandria. It is also very unlikely that anyone of low social birth, as the Maronite biography describes Maximus, could have ascended by the age of thirty to be the Protoasecretis of the Emperor Heraclius, one of the most powerful positions in the Empire. It is more likely that Maximus was born of an aristocratic family and received an unparalleled education in philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, etc. It is true, however, that Maximus did not study rhetoric as he himself notes in the prologue to his Earlier Ambigua to John,
 to which his lack of high stylistic by Byzantine standards attests. Nevertheless, for reasons not explained in the few autobiographical details to be gleaned from his texts, Maximus left public life and took
monastic vows at the monastery of
Philippicus in Chrysopolis, a city across the
Bosporus from Constantinople (later known as Scutari, the modern Turkish city of
Üsküdar). Maximus was elevated to the position of
abbot of the monastery.
 "Theology without practice is the theology of demons". (One of his most famous quotes)
Anatolia, Maximus was forced to flee to a monastery near
Carthage. It was there that he came under the tutelage of
Saint Sophronius, and began studying in detail with him the Christological writings of
Gregory of Nazianzus and
Dionysius the Areopagite. Maximus continued his career as a theological and spiritual writer while his lengthy stay in Carthage.
 Maximus was also held in very high esteem by the
Gregory, the eparch
 and the population as a holy man, ostensibly becoming an influential unofficial political advisor and spiritual head in North Africa.
Involvement in Monothelite controversy
While Maximus was in Carthage, a controversy broke out regarding how to understand the interaction between the human and divine natures within the
Jesus. This Christological debate was the latest development in disagreements that began following the
First Council of Nicaea in 325, and were intensified following the
Council of Chalcedon in 451. The
Monothelite position was developed as a compromise between the
dyophysitists and the
miaphysists, who believed dyophysitism is conceptually indistinguishable from
Nestorianism. The Monothelites adhered to the
Chalcedonian definition of the
hypostatic union: that two natures, one divine and one human, were united in the person of Christ. However, they went on to say that Christ had only a divine will and no human will (Monothelite is derived from the Greek for "one will"), which led some to charge them with
showing Constans II with his son. Constans II supported
, and had Maximus exiled for his refusal to agree to Monothelite teachings.
The Monothelite position was promulgated by
Patriarch Sergius I of Constantinople and by Maximus' friend and successor as the Abbot of Chrysopolis,
 Following the death of Sergius in 638, Pyrrhus succeeded him as Patriarch, but was shortly deposed due to political circumstances. During Pyrrhus' exile from Constantinople, Maximus and the deposed Patriarch held a public debate on the issue of Monothelitism. In the debate, which was held in the presence of many North African bishops, Maximus took the position that Jesus possessed both a human and a divine will. The result of the debate was that Pyrrhus admitted the error of the Monothelite position, and Maximus accompanied him to Rome in 645.
 However, on the death of Emperor Heraclius and the ascension of Emperor
Constans II, Pyrrhus returned to Constantinople and recanted of his acceptance of the
Dyothelite ("two wills") position.
Maximus may have remained in Rome, because he was present when the newly elected
Pope Martin I convened the
Lateran Council of 649 at the
Lateran Basilica in Rome.
 The 105 bishops present condemned Monothelitism in the official acts of the synod, which some believe may have been written by Maximus.
 It was in Rome that Pope Martin and Maximus were arrested in 653 under orders from
Constans II, who supported the Monothelite doctrine. Pope Martin was condemned without a trial, and died before he could be sent to the Imperial Capital.
Trial and exile
Maximus' refusal to accept Monothelitism caused him to be brought to the imperial capital of
Constantinople to be tried as a
heretic in 658. In Constantinople, Monothelitism had gained the favor of both the Emperor and the Patriarch of Constantinople. Maximus stood behind the Dyothelite position and was sent back into exile for four more years. During his trial he was accused of aiding the Muslim conquests
in Egypt and
North Africa, which he rejected as slander.
In 662, Maximus was placed on trial once more, and was once more convicted of heresy. Following the trial Maximus was tortured, having his tongue cut out, so he could no longer speak his rebellion, and his right hand cut off, so that he could no longer write letters.
 Maximus was then exiled to the
Colchis region of modern-day
Georgia and was cast in the fortress of Schemarum, perhaps Muris-Tsikhe near the modern town of
 He died soon thereafter, on 13 August 662.
 The events of the trials of Maximus were recorded by