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Sin and Grace

“Paul often saw himself as a great sinner. He never described himself as a sinner, however, without at the same time referring to the grace of God, which forgave his sins, accepted him, and enabled him to be useful in God's kingdom…Paul in other words exemplified the attitude of believers, who without minimizing [their] sins, refuse to be constantly hypnotized by them.” (Anthony A. Hoekema)


“What does my experience tell me when I am the prisoner of sin? I am tormented sometimes the whole day, and cannot turn to God with my whole heart, because sin hardens my heart, making God’s mercy inaccessible to me. I burn in the fire, and willingly remain in it, because sin has bound my powers, and I—like one inwardly chained—am unable to turn to God until He, seeing my helplessness, my humility, and my tears, takes pity on me and bestows His grace upon me.” (St. John of Kronstadt)


“Everything that happens—the bad act as well as the good—has its roots in the being of God. Only because God gives us our being (or rather lends it to us) are we in existence at the very moment when we commit a sin. At that very moment God could withdraw our being from us, could destroy us. But He holds us in the existence we have received from Him, even when that existence turns against Him. Moreover the Lord Love, in his infinite mercy, allows sin to contain certain positive elements…that is opportunities for grace because ‘where sin abounds, grace abounds even more’ (Romans 5:20).” (Fr. Lev Gillet, Father Michael Plekon, Sacramental Living Ministries)


“God, in His infinite love, always provides the means of grace within our sin. We can always make the choice to sincerely repent. When we do, grace abounds because we experience that which is always there and freely given…but …the grace of God can abandon “the unrepentant person because this person has disregarded the wealth of God’s kindness, tolerance, and forbearance....Divine forbearance is transformed into indignation, tolerance into intolerance, and goodness into repulsion. This is why the chief of the Apostles also advises us not to be deceived. We should not regard God’s tolerance and forbearance as slowness, because He is not slow but forbears, not wishing anyone of us to perish, but for all of us to come to repentance.” (Sacramental Living Ministries, Saint Nektarios)


“Often in our spiritual life we experience a strong and at times overwhelming tension between evil and good, temptation and grace…In the Christian understanding, spiritual warfare in our members leaves our free will intact. However powerful the evil spirit may be, it is subject not only to God’s will and intervention into our life; it is also vulnerable to our personal ascetic struggle. The good spirit can always prevail, so long as we recognize the power of sin, acknowledge our incapacity to withstand for long the onslaughts of the evil spirit, and throw ourselves wholly upon the grace and mercy of God, who alone can bring victory out of a conflict that otherwise would plunge us into eternal death and corruption.” (Fr. John Breck)


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