It is impossible to weep enough at the corruption and wretchedness
in human nature that followed after the fall. There is nothing more harmful to
man than sin, but man is not so inclined to anything else as much as to sin ó
man, I say, God's rational creation by God's special counsel. "Let us
make man," (Gen. 1:26) created in the image of God and made in His
O how mightily, O men, has our adversary stricken
us! How has that ancient serpent damaged our pure and undefiled nature by his
deadly poison! Man strives unrestrainedly toward every sin. The Prophet weeps
over this calamity and wretchedness, "And man being in honour, did not
understand; he is compared to the mindless cattle, and is become like unto
them" (LXX-Ps. 48:13 [KJV-Ps. 49:12]). Man is genuinely compared to
the dumb beasts, and is become like them. Those same passions which are in
beasts are seen in man.
A beast is proud and haughty; we see the same in
man. A beast becomes angry; man too becomes angry and embittered. A beast
envies; man also envies. Beast fights with beast; man also fights with man. A
beast steals; man steals too. A beast is ravenous; man is also ravenous. A
beast is ruled by passions; man too is ruled by passions. And what is all the
more bitter than this is that all these passions found individually in every
beast, are found together in the individual man. He is proud and conceited. He
is wrathful and malicious. He is envious. He is passionate and capricious. He
is ravenous. He is desirous of others' goods, and so on.
O beloved creature of God! Where is your beautiful
goodness, the image and likeness of God? Where is your holiness and innocence
and truth? And man being in honour, did not understand; he is compared to the
mindless cattle, and is become like them.
The holy Apostle frightfully describes the man not
renewed by divine grace, and presents him before our inward eyes,
"There is none
righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that
seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become
unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an
open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is
under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are
swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of
peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes"
But let us see how great an evil sin is, although
man loves it, so that we may turn away from sin.
1. The great and incomprehensible God is offended
and angered by sin, He Who created us from nothing and made us in His own image
and likeness, He Who for our sake who are fallen, sent into the world His
Only-Begotten Son; He that every day and hour does us good, He that feeds us,
waters us, clothes us, gives us rest, and abounds in other innumerable
blessings for us, He that will finally judge the sinner for sin before the
O how truly incomprehensible an evil is sin, for
thereby the incomprehensible majesty of God is offended!
2. No one is able to take sin away from man but
the Son of God. He came into the world for the sake of taking away sin, and He
suffered and died so as to wipe out sin. "For this purpose the Son of
God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil" (1
Jn. 3:8). "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the
world" (Jn. 1:29). Glory to His love for man!
3. Sin works death, "for the wages of sin
are death" (Rom. 6:23). Thus our ancestors sinned in paradise and died
the death, and would be dead forever had not Christ the Son of God revived them
with His Blood. "For Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and for
ever" (Heb. 13:8). For His holy Blood, poured out for the entire
world, is as effective now as it was since the beginning of the world to revive
every sinner that believes in Him.
4. Conscience so heavily and cruelly torments a
man for the sin that he committed, that a man often kills himself, not being
able to bear the pangs of conscience.
5. There are temporal punishments for sin such as
famine, fires, battles, plagues, diseases, earthquakes, and others. "Death,
and bloodshed, strife, and the sword, calamities, famine, tribulation, and the
scourge; these things are created for the wicked" (Sirach 40:9-10).
"Sins are the cause of all evils" says St. Chrysostom. You see how
great an evil sin is, an evil more evil than any other evil. O it is truly
better to go about naked than to sin. It is better to be captive and imprisoned
than to sin. It is better to be wounded and have every disease than to sin. It
is better never to see the light and to sit in darkness than to sin. It is
better to endure curses, mockery, reproach, abuse, beatings and wounds than to
sin. Finally, it is better to endure every evil that can possibly be in this
world than to sin, because all this evil afflicts the body only, and afflicts
temporarily, for death puts an end to all suffering. Here every misfortune
comes to an end, but sin afflicts both the body and soul, and it will torment
them forever without end.
For sin is the cause of each and every misfortune
that occurs in this world. If it were not for sin there would be no misfortune.
Sin came into being in the world and upon it followed every calamity. Sin is
sweet to men, but its fruits are bitter to them. A bitter seed also bears
bitter fruit. Beloved Christians! Let us know sin, that we may turn away from
it, for everyone avoids a known evil. People know that poison harms, and they
avoid it. They know that a serpent kills with its sting, and they keep away
from it. They know that thieves strip and kill, and they avoid them.
Let us also know sin, O beloved, and the evil that
proceeds from sin, and we will unfailingly avoid it. For sin harms more than
any poison. Sin is more venomous than any serpent. Sin strips us bare more than
any robber, and deprives us of temporal and eternal blessings, and kills the
body and the soul. These are the fruits of the bitter seed of sin!
Sin is anger, wrath, and malice. Sin is pride,
highmindedness, haughtiness, conceit, and scorn of neighbor. Sin is slander and
judgement. Sin is shameful speech, impure talk, rough speech, blasphemy, and
every corrupt word. Sin is falsehood, flattery, cunning and hypocrisy. Sin is
drunkenness, gluttony, and all intemperance. Sin is theft, stealing, robbery,
violence, and all unrighteous acquisition of anothers' goods. Sin is adultery,
fornication, and all impurity. In a word, every transgression of the Law is sin
and is more harmful an evil than any other evil that harms our body in any way.
For these only harm our body, but sin harms and kills both the body and the
soul. Sin is more evil than the very devil since sin made the devil, who was
once a good and luminous angel, but he was poisoned and darkened by sin.
Whoever does not know sin as a great evil and does not avoid it shall know and
understand how cruel an evil sin is in very experience and by its effects, in
the age to come, but it will be too late and useless. For this reason we must
recognize this evil in the present age and guard ourselves from it.
Christ the True Light, that enlightens the blind,
enlighten also the eyes of our heart that we should know sin and avoid sin! It
is the beginning of salvation to know one's own misfortune.
Shun every sin as a mortal poison,
because every sin offends and angers God, Who is great. It both separates the
one who sinned from God and sets an obstacle to eternal salvation. Therefore
shun sin, lest it put you to death eternally.
The struggle against every sin is
an unfailing necessity for all Christians who wish to be true Christians and to
receive eternal salvation in Jesus Christ, lest they allow it to take hold of
them. "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should
obey it in the lusts thereof" (Rom. 6:12), says the Apostle of Christ.
Their faith requires this of Christians, according to the words of the Apostle,
"Shew me thy faith by thy works" (Jas. 2:18).
They must listen to God in Whom they believe, and
not sin; they must live unto God, and not unto sin. This is demanded by that
holy Baptism through which they were renewed to the holy Christian life. This
is demanded by the vows made at Baptism, in which they vowed to labor for the
Lord in faith and in truth. This is required by the work of salvation, since
holy Baptism avails nothing to those who transgress and do not keep their vows
made at Baptism, as they are false and have lied to God. Consider these things,
O Christian! A Christian is not known by saying, "Lord, Lord" (Mt.
7:21), but by struggling against all sin. That soldier is a true soldier who
stands and struggles against visible foes. Likewise, a true Christian is he who
wages incessant war against sin. But let us see for what cause a man sins, that
we may more easily stand against sin. We note five causes of sin:
1. The corruption of human nature. Man is
conceived in iniquity and born in sins, as the Psalmist says, "For
behold, I was conceived in iniquities, and in sins did my mother bear me" (LXX-Ps.
50:7 [KJV-Ps. 51:5]). The sinful passions with which he is born incline and
draw him to sin. "O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from
the body of this death?" (Rom. 7:24). Corruption and accursedness have
entered into man from the fall of Adam. This inclines a man to every sin. "That
which is born of the flesh is flesh" (Jn. 3:6). But Christians must
stand against inclinations and passions and struggle according to the power of
holy Baptism and the vows made then, and not allow them to progress into deed.
2. The devil leads man to sin. Of this the Apostle
says, exhorting Christians to be on guard against him, "Be sober, be
vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about,
seeking whom he may devour. Oppose him firm with faith" (1 Pet.
5:8-9). The Apostle says the same in another place, "Be strong in the
Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye be
able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh
and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of
darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Eph.
These unseen enemies are always eager for our
destruction, O Christian! Be vigilant and make haste to guard against every
sin. We must not, therefore, slumber.
3. The seductions of the world also lead toward
sin. We see that evil grows; one does such and such a thing. Another either
sees it or hears of it, and recklessly imitates it. Temptation is like a
pestilence that begins in one man and infects many living near him. "Woe
unto the world because of offences! For it must needs be that offences come;
but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!" (Mt. 18:7).
4. A cause of sin is often the bad upbringing of
children. Such children, when they come of age hasten toward every manner of
evil. This comes about from the carelessness of parents. Give heed to this,
fathers and mothers!
5. Habit strongly attracts a man toward sin. We
see this evil; we see that drunkards are always drawn toward drunkenness,
thieves toward theft, fornicators and adulterers toward impurity, slanderers
toward slander, and so on. For their habit draws them like a leash toward sin,
and they are drawn toward the sin to which they have become accustomed just as
a hungry man is drawn toward bread and a thirsty man toward water.
Incited by these things, men sin. A Christian man
wishing to be saved and to show his faith from deeds must unfailingly struggle
against these things. All these adversaries to our salvation are cruel to us.
Cruel is the flesh with its passions and lusts, which lusts against the spirit.
Cruel is our adversary the devil, who unceasingly deceives us and wars against
us. Cruel to us also are the temptations by which the lusts of the flesh are
fanned and kindled as a fire by the wind. But cruelest of all is the very habit
to him who has become accustomed to evil. For that man it becomes his second
The struggle against the aforementioned adversary
is difficult for all, I admit, but it is necessary and most glorious. Many wage
war and are victorious over people, but are captives of their own passions and
become slaves. There is no victory more glorious than to be victorious over
one's self and sin. There is no crown or triumph without victory, and no
victory without struggle against enemies.
Beloved Christians! Let us go into this struggle,
that with the help of Christ we may attain victory and receive from Him the
crown of goodness, and we shall be eternally triumphant in His Kingdom. As help
in the struggle against sin we note the following:
1. Listen and heed the word of God. It portrays
sin and virtue, and leads us from sin and encourages us toward virtue. "All
Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for
reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God
be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim.
3:16-17). The Word of God is "a sword of the Spirit" (Eph.
6:17) by which the enemy of souls is cut down.
2. God is present in every place, and He is with us
wherever we may be. And we, anything we may do, we do before Him and before His
holy eyes. How, then, shall we transgress before God and violate His holy Law
before His eyes? We are ashamed and stand in fear before an earthly king; how
much more ought we to be ashamed and fear to give offense before God, for every
sin is an offense before God.
3. Remember the last things: death, the Judgement
of Christ, hell, and the Kingdom of Heaven. These things deter sin. "Remember
the end," says Sirach, "and thou shalt never do amiss" (Sirach
4. Avoid occasions that lead to sin, such as
banquets and feasting, and evil and useless conversations. "For evil
communications corrupt good manners" (1 Cor. 15:33).
5. Keep in mind and remembrance that a man could
die and perish in the very act of sin. Thus Pharaoh, king of Egypt, pursued
after Israel and wished to oppress him again, but he perished in the very act
of iniquity (cf. Ex. ch. 14). Thus Abessalom [Absalom] the son of David sought
to kill his holy father, and perished in that pursuit (cf. LXX-2 Kings [KJV-2
Sam.] ch. 18). We see the same thing even now, we see that fornicators and
adulterers are stricken in the very act of impurity, blasphemers in blasphemy,
thieves and robbers in theft, and other transgressors receive according to
their deeds. Thus the righteous judgement of God strikes transgressors, that we
should fear to sin and transgress.
5. Consider that Christ the Son of God suffered
and died for sins. "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was
bruised for our iniquities" (Is. 53:5). Should you, a Christian, do
that for which Christ the Son of God drank the bitter cup of suffering, and
thus "crucify" in yourself "the Son of God
afresh" (Heb. 6:6)?
7. Do not look at what other people are doing, but
heed what the word of God teaches. Thus we shall avoid the temptations of the
world. "Much peace have they that love Thy law, O Lord, and for them
there is no stumbling-block" (LXX-Ps. 118:165 [KJV-Ps. 119:165]). O
Christian, love the Law of God and the temptations of the world shall not harm
8. Our effort and struggle against sin is
powerless without the help of God. For this reason we must make an effort and
pray, that the Lord help us in this so important an endeavor. The Lord helps
those that take care and labor. He strengthens those that struggle and crowns
Beloved Christians, we see the enemies of our soul
that wish to destroy us not temporally, but eternally. We also see help in the
struggle against them. Let us stand, then, let us stand aright and be
strengthened with the power of Jesus our almighty Saviour, and let us not allow
them to overpower us, that we may be crowned with the wreath of victory by the
Master of the contest.
O Lord Jesus, the Victor over death and hell, help
us! We can do nothing without Thee. With Thee we can do all things.
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