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Sin and Being

“ ‘But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. It desires to dominate you, but you must subdue it’ (Genesis 4:7). Sin is portrayed with animal imagery here as a beast crouching and ready to pounce (a figure of speech known as zoomorphism). An Akkadian cognate refers to a type of demon; in this case perhaps one could translate, “Sin is the demon at the door.” (NET Bible, Genesis 4:7)

“The curse of God that comes upon human persons because of their sin affects not only the person involved or even that person and their community. In the contemporary Western world, we think of sin in juridical terms and so look at God’s curse as punishment. We associate God’s curse brought about by wickedness with a person’s eternal destiny after death. Israelite religion, as well as that of the Second Temple period and early Christianity, however, had rather what might be called a “biological” view of sin. Sin is an infection. Things tainted by sin are treated in the same manner and according to the same purity regulations as those tainted by disease or mildew. Sin and the curse that it brings can be communicated from person to person and infects areas and objects and even the land. It not only must be forgiven as a transgression, but it also requires purification.” (Fr. Stephen De Young)

“Some are being destroyed by anger; others are being destroyed by drugs; the hearts of others are bursting with grumbling, displeasure and fear; others are being overcome by pride and selfishness. The soul has a whole collection of dangerous diseases: the gangrene of conceit, the peritonitis of envy, metastases of vanity, ulcers of lust…But the main danger lies in the fact that sin is not just a deviation from some moral rules and generally established taboos. Sin is your surrender, a departure from your deep essence of being, from what God intended you to be.” (Igumen Tikhon Borisov)

“The essence of sin consists not in the infringement of ethical standards but in a falling away from the eternal Divine life for which man was created and to which, by his very nature, he is called…The sin of our forefather Adam was not the only sin of cosmic significance. Every sin, manifest or secret, committed by each one of us affects the rest of the universe.” (St. Sophrony)

“Sin is a movement away from being, well-being, and eternal being. It is a distorted direction (hamartia: “missing the mark”). It is equally the refusal of Beauty and Goodness, without participation in the Truth. I will try to put this into practical terms. A man sees someone else in genuine need and has plenty to spare. But he considers the matter and turns away. He has “increased” or “preserved” his wealth, but he has impoverished his soul, diminished his own existence since his existence depends utterly on his movement towards well-being and eternal-being. This he could pursue by following the commandments and the example of Christ (which is already the movement of grace within him). Christ’s self-emptying towards all of creation is the perfection of generosity. To act on generosity is union with Christ, a movement towards well-being.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“Sin is thus not primarily a willful breaking of another’s will. It is not a transgression of something external to us, enforced only through the threat of violence or force. It is a violation of the very constitution of our being and of the world around us…it is “disintegration.” … it as a movement towards non-being. Sin is substantial. It can be healed and washed, excised and destroyed. Sin is not a “legal” construct in the modern sense of legal nominalism.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“There is a great difference between sinning intentionally, because of an inclination towards a particular sin, and sinning unintentionally, because of human weakness, while still maintaining a disposition to please God. There is a great difference between leading a sinful life and satiating all sinful desires, and being tripped by sins because of weakness, human deficiencies and sinful disease — all the while still walking along the path to God.” (St. Ignatii Brianchaninov)

“People today are weary, confused and darkened by sin and egoism….People need to realize that their life is troubled because they have distanced themselves from God. They need to realize that they must repent and humbly confess their sins.” (St. Paisios the Athonite)

“It is truly amazing how the Lord calls all kinds of people in all kinds of circumstances to serve Him. Some people who have committed the greatest sins and mistakes have become saints. It is said that every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.” (Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis)

“The Greek word eikon, from which we get the English word icon, primarily means “image.” We could say, “Man was created in the icon of God” (see Gen. 1:27). But it’s an image damaged by conceit and self-rule. We have all become infected with the sickness of sin, but the divine image of love nevertheless resides inside us.” (Jonathan Jackson)

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