The complete opposite of sin is virtue. Its rudiments are
found in every person, as remnants of that natural good which was placed into
the nature of man by his Creator. It is found in a pure and complete form only
in True Christianity, for Christ the Savior said: "Without Me ye can do
Christianity teaches us that man's earthly life is
a time of moral struggle, a time of preparation for the future, eternal life.
Consequently, the tasks of man's earthly life consist of correctly preparing
for future eternity. The earthly life is brief and it does not repeat itself,
for man lives but once on earth. Therefore, in this earthly life, one must work
at virtue if one does not wish to destroy one's soul. For this is precisely
what God's truth demands of one on the threshold of eternity.
Each Christian, with God's help, shapes his own
earthly life, in the sense that he or she directs its course toward virtue. In
order to be virtuous, however, one must not only do good
for others, but work on oneself, struggling with his insufficiencies and vices,
developing in himself a good, Christian-valued foundation. This work on
oneself, this struggle toward moral perfection of man's earthly life is
indispensable for every Christian. The Lord Himself said: "the kingdom
of heaven has endured violent assault and violent men seize it by force"
The moral character and features of each person
are worked out in such a life-struggle. A Christian must, of course, be a
Christian before all else, a person with an established, solid moral character
and he must aim for the building of such a character. In other words, he must
strive for progress in himself toward moral perfection.
Thus, from a Christian point of view, life is a
moral struggle, a path of constant striving toward good and perfection. There
can be no pause on this path, according to the law of the spiritual life. A man
who stops working on himself will not remain the same
as he was, but will inevitably become worse - like a stone which is thrown
upwards and stops rising, it will not remain suspended in the air, but will
We already know that our sins generally originate
from three sources: from the devil, from the world around us lying in evil, and
from our own sinful flesh. Since sin is the main enemy and obstacle of virtue,
it is evident that a Christian who is striving towards virtue must, through
God's mercy and help, struggle against sin in all its aspects. It is especially
needful at this point to recall the Savior's words to the Apostles in the Garden
of Gethsemane, "Keep vigil and pray lest you fall into
temptation." The words are directed not only at the Apostles but to
all of us, indicating that the struggle with sinful temptations is possible
only for one who is vigilant and who prays, standing on guard for his survival.
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