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Sin and Struggle

‘Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God’ (1 John 3:9). John is talking in general terms, contrasting this world with the world to come. The Christian, though sinful, does not sin (v. 9; lit., “does not keep on sinning”) as the world does.” (Orthodox Study Bible, 1 John 3:9) 

“…[John] is making a clear distinction between the opponents, who as moral indifferentists downplay the significance of sin in the life of the Christian, and the recipients, who as true Christians recognize the significance of sin because Jesus came to take it away (3:5) and to destroy it as a work of the devil (3:8)…It is clear [John] is not simply exhorting the readers not to be habitual or repetitive sinners, as if to imply that occasional acts of sin would be acceptable. The purpose of the author here is that the readers not sin at all, just as Jesus told the man he healed in John 5:14 “Don’t sin any more.” (NET Bible, 1 John 3:9. 1 John 2:1)

“If someone who is born of God does not sin, how is it that we who have been born of water and the Spirit, and thus of God, do in fact commit sins? The answer is that the phrase “born of God” has two different meanings. According to the first of these, God has given the grace of sonship with all power to those who have been born again. According to the second, the God who has thus given birth is working in us to bring us to perfection. By faith we are born again in principle, but God still has to get to work on us in order to refashion us according to His likeness.” (St. Maximus the Confessor)

“In order for His gracious purposes to be accomplished for us, we must embrace the ongoing struggle of dying to the corrupting power of sin in our lives. No matter how appealing it is in the moment, sin cannot be made holy or offered to God; instead, we must open ourselves to receive Christ’s healing as we turn away from evil by repentance. That is the only way that disordered desires, words, thoughts, and deeds may be set right. We must reorient ourselves toward the Kingdom as we struggle to reject all that would hinder us from becoming more beautiful living icons of the Lord.” (Fr. Philip LeMasters)

“When we find our true self, we regain the path for our return and reconnection with God. Then repentance becomes deeply lived, a spiritual experience of God’s grace which cures us of the sickness of sin. Then our struggle acquires a different meaning and dynamic. This means that even if our lapses and weaknesses are frequent, they no longer plunge us into despair. Even if our passions and mistakes are great and try us sorely, they no longer terrify us. No matter how heavy our guilts are, they don’t sicken our souls. Persistent guilt, depression, fear, anxiety, a wounded ego over the sins and mistakes we’ve committed are one thing; inner contrition, humility accompanied by spiritual serenity are quite another. This peace flows from the love and grace of God, who accepts us and awaits us, triumphing over our sinfulness.” (Archimandrite Nikanor Karayannis)

#OrthodoxStudyBible #NETBible #StMaximustheConfessor #FrPhilipLeMasters #ArchimandriteNikanorKarayannis

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