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Sin, Nature, and Will

“The worst conclusion to draw is the notion of a “sin nature” (a horrible theological error). A “nature” (by definition) is “what a thing is.” If we have a “sin nature” then we not only sin – we are sin. This is blasphemous. Sin is extraneous to what it is to be human – it is a parasite. St. Paul doesn’t say, “It is sin, which I am.” He says, “It is sin that dwells within me.” If you need an image, think of the alien thing (like in the movie) dwelling inside you. It’s a bother (to say the least), and it can be devastating, but it’s not you. You are not sin.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“Beginning with Cain, however, the Hebrew Scriptures present sin in a very different way. Sin is portrayed as a force, sometimes even as a demonic creature, that Adam’s transgression released into the world. Sin is less a judgment cast upon an action than a poison or a deadly disease. Individual evil actions are symptoms of this disease that reveal its presence and the degree of its progression toward death. Sin can pass from one person to another. Sin can intensify within a population and become a defining aspect of a community. Like a virus or bacteria in our modern understanding, sin leaves its mark and its contagion in the world. This stain left by sin poisons not only humans but animals, plants, and even the inanimate objects of God’s created order.” (Fr. Stephen De Young)

“The most merciful Lord blames sin, but He does not blame the sinful woman. It is like saying, "I do not censure the God-like" and "according to the image of God" soul of yours. You are not the same as sin because you possess within yourself God-like powers which can liberate you from this sin. "Go, and sin no more." (John 8: 11).” (St. Justin Popovic)

“The term “remission” in Greek refers to letting sin go unpunished. It signifies the pardoning of transgressions as if they never happened…Accordingly, at the Judgment, God will not condemn those who believe in Christ but for His sake will release them from the penalty of their wrongdoing. This message that God will absolve sin is a repeated theme in Luke’s early church history. In Acts Chapter 3, Peter urges, “Repent therefore and be converted that your sins may be blotted out” Acts 3:19). His promise is that the transgression of those who repent will be, wiped away or canceled…as debt is forgiven…the “remission of sins” lies at the heart of the Gospel. It is not a secondary belief to be mentioned once and then left behind. But the pardon of trespasses is closely connected to the essential belief in the return of Christ to judge the living and the dead. By the pardon of sins, we are delivered from the condemnation of God at the Last Judgment. Thus, by the grace of forgiveness we have the assurance of salvation.” (Fr. Basil)

“…only when they were confronted with the One they had indeed denied and persecuted, did Peter and Paul know themselves as needing, and being offered, salvation. But the theological vision offered by the mystery of Christ elevates us to a height from which we can see our apostasy and sin as the arena in which God works, effecting a transformation that reveals the glory of God…No-one has ever fallen out of God’s love. Because even in our sinfulness, even at the lowest ebb of our decency, we still remain God’s children.” (Fr. John Behr, Bishop Agathangelos of Fanari)

““Sin works in the soul and heart, but most terribly in the mind (Romans 1:28) or nous, which is the center or eye of the heart according to the Church Fathers. Sin corrupts and distorts the governing of our being at the very core so that our inward faculties become deranged. If we allow sin to rage freely, we risk become fully debased. As this inward struggle unfolds, it leads us to physical acts of the flesh. Sin always begins inside us, within our interior life; only secondarily does it manifest as physical action.” (Dynamis 6/16/2015)

“…sin or evil is not a part of human essence or nature, for God created human nature good in itself. Sinning is altogether the wrong use of free will…The human soul is a free power, for it can become either a power for good or evil, according to the direction which you yourself give it.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Psalms 35:1, St. John of Kronstadt)

“Sin, like evil, is never a thing-in-itself. It is always a misuse, or disfigurement of something good. Everything created by God is good, only its misdirection and distortion makes it evil. Evil never creates anything. We generally do not and cannot see this about our own sin. The shame that it engenders blinds us to its deeper reality.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“Only through Christ are we freed from suffering and bondage to sin.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Mark 5:25-29)

“By conquering the sin within him through Christ, a man conquers death. If a single day passes and you have not yet conquered at least one of your sins, realize that you have become all the more mortal. If, however, you have overcome one, two, or three of your sins, you have become more greatly renewed in that newness that does not age: immortality and eternity. Let us never forget that for one to believe in Christ, this means that he must struggle ceaselessly against sin, evil, and death.” (St. Justin Popovic of Serbia)

We are created with spiritual, psychological, and physical dimensions, and sin ravages all three…Often, darkness becomes imprinted in our souls and bodies so that even our wills are bypassed and we sin automatically.” (OCPM 8/24/2017, Orthodox Study Bible, 1 Corinthians 7:1)

“Paul clarifies the distinction between the will of the soul and the will of the flesh. Because the soul is reborn in baptism, it can strive to follow the law of God (Romans 7:22). Yet our flesh remains corrupt in this world, and it often fights against our will to do good.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Romans 7:18-23)

“The soul, according to the extent of the sin becomes fatigued, because sin weakens and brings the person that has succumbed to it into exhaustion. That is why a person is overburdened with everything that happens to him. If a person thrives in goodness, then according to the measure of his success, everything that previously seemed burdensome has now become much lighter.” (St. Dorotheos of Gaza)

“We generally avoid the word sin. We want to call it something other than what it is because we don’t like the implications of the word…We have this innate sense that we can overcome the problem with a little more effort or maturity. Even that innate sense is an illustration of the problem.” (Foundation Study Bible, Romans 3:23)

“The beauty of our faith is that we don’t have to overcome sin by our own effort. That is a mistake we make all too often. The effort we need to make is the effort to have union with Christ.” (Sacramental Living Ministries)

“Man is not sinful by nature…sin is something distinct from our nature. Because we are created in the image of God (Gn 1:26), there is an indelible goodness in our nature that can never be undone. While we can become immersed in sin, we know that it is still not part of our nature, but a foreign force that dwells in us. Thus, sin is what we do, not what we are.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Romans 7:17)

“...sin or evil is an action of man's free will...Therefore, sin or evil is not a part of human essence or nature, for God created human nature good in itself.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Psalms 35:1)

“Evil spoils and damages but never totally destroys the divine image in man. What was free, pure and good in the divine creation can never be completely erased.” (Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Clapsis)

“Nature is graced and sacred from its creation by God and the grace of its creation, while it can be obscured by sin and evil, can never be destroyed.” (Archpriest Lawrence Cross)

"We must not accept the fallen world to be “natural and normal.” This is the greatest lie that is perpetrated on us by the media, the passions, and the devil, for it excuses sin instead of making us realize change is possible and that we need to work for that change." (Archimandrite Sergius)

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