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True2Ourselves Forums   > Community Topics > Theology  > What is sin?

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Old 06-08-2009, 12:31 PM
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Default What is sin?

As many of you know, there was a united Church of Christ up until the year 1054, at which time what was known as the Great Schism happened, resulting in "East" (Orthodox) and the "West" (Roman Catholic) no longer being in communion with one another. There were many issues there, including the doctrine of God, the papacy, etc. Since that time, there was a further breach as to basic understandings of things such as sin and original sin, although through dialogue, we are finding the breach to be one perhaps more of emphasis, not of divergence. Nonetheless:
The East and West viewed sin differently by the time that the Great Schism came about, and even moreso later. The West (both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism) has tended to see sin as being primarily "infraction which needs satisfied." The East (Orthodoxy), however, has seen sin as primarily spiritual illness, decay and death.
In several other posts I answered the question "is this sin" or "is that sin" from the affirmative. However, I think that I need to clarify that what I mean by may be quite different from what others do when they answer in the affirmative. Thus, what I am about to post is to clear up what I mean from my perspective as an Orthodox Christian with regard to sin.
"When desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death." (Holy Scripture: James 1.15)

What is sin? Sin, from the Greek hamartia (‘amartia) literally means “not complete” or “not whole.” It is from a (ha or ‘am) meaning “not” and artia (from artios) meaning “complete,” whole, full mark or full measure. This is also why hamartia is also defined as “missing the mark.”
Sin is, in Orthodoxy, seen as primarily illness, not as “legal violation” or “rule-breaking” in the sense of requiring legalistic adjudication, but rather as requiring the healing of a breach between man and God, of re-establishing our full cooperation with God as "coworkers." It is true that sin is transgression of the divine law, as Scripture tells us, but we see that the divine law “of freedom” in the New Testament as God’s path to wholeness. Just as the natural law tells us that we cannot take poison without physical death, and therefore to violate the natural law by taking poison will result in illness and death, so also, when we transgress the divine law in similar manner by partaking of spiritual poisons, the result is spiritual illness and death. Therefore, to say it is transgression of the law is true, in that transgression of the law both is an act of spiritual illness and death and also results in the same. Truly the “writ against us” is torn up, but this to heal the breach, not to appease and satisfy a bloodthirsty deity. It is something that needs “healed,” not merely adjudicated. Thus, forgiveness is needed for the trespasses, but also remission is needed. Forgiveness and remission are two different things and two distinct Greek words. Forgiveness is mending the breach, but remission, as with remission of cancer, is removing of the illness. Both are spiritual healing—healing the breach then healing the illness. If one severs his arm, he will lose his arm and die unless two things happen: 1. The breach is mended—to try and regraft the muscles, ligaments, etc. but also 2. That the resulting infection is also healed. Thus, when Orthodoxy speaks of “cleansing” sin, it is referring to cleansing the infection—removing by the “washing” of the grace of God that which corrupts the soul as spiritual infection and leads to death. This is why you will see in Orthodox prayer services Christ being referred to as "You who are the Physician and healer of our souls and bodies" or other words to that effect. I hope that this clarifies the matters that some of you were wondering about in some of the other threads.
Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!
Fr. Harry Linsinbigler

Last edited by Linsinbigler : 06-08-2009 at 07:36 PM.
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Old 06-08-2009, 12:37 PM
RollingThunder
 
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Default Re: What is sin?

Thank You!

Blessings,
Shannon
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Old 06-08-2009, 01:44 PM
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Default Re: What is sin?

Having read your OP I actually would have to say I can see how both views of sin could come together. At least in my mind. It is a little like my understanding of evil. Though I see a force of evil at work in a positive way, evil as associated with behavior is not an intrinsic condition but one brought about by separation from God. One no longer hears the song of God singing of their existence and they forget who they are and how they are to conduct themselves. Sin seems to be the same. There is probably no sin in the presence of God. Therefore for sin to come into existence separation from God must have taken place. This would equate to "sickness". It is easy for me to see this in duality. I don't have the kind of mind that needs to compartmentalize knowledge. Thanks for the knowledge.
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Old 06-08-2009, 02:06 PM
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Default Re: What is sin?

Quote:
What is sin? Sin, from the Greek hamartia (‘amartia) literally means “not complete” or “not whole.” It is from a (ha or ‘am) meaning “not” and artia (from artios) meaning “complete,” whole, full mark or full measure. This is also why hamartia is also defined as “missing the mark.”
Based on above definition, can it also be said that sin is the same as any measure of "lack", whether an inability to attain the mark or an inability to attain wholeness?

If so, does it mean that Christians with various but not full measures of faith, or of grace, or of Christ, are sinners because of their being "not whole"?

Consider these two statements below, especially the emboldened words, that appear to be contradictory. You may respond to my comments, please:

Quote:
Sin is, in Orthodoxy, seen as primarily illness, not as “legal violation” or “rule-breaking” in the sense of requiring legalistic adjudication, but rather as requiring the healing of a breach between man and God, of re-establishing our full cooperation with God as "coworkers."

It is true that sin is transgression of the divine law, as Scripture tells us, but we see that the divine law “of freedom” in the New Testament as God’s path to wholeness.
Laws of God, whether the Mosaic law, or the law of faith, or the law of the Spirit, are made up of commandments. Judgment(s) is/are integral part(s) of all these laws; there is/are forms of adjudications unto justification or condemnation based on how the commandments are observed by man.

For example, there is are justifications by faith and grace... each of which is a form of judgment. Both bring about result/reward known as the righteousness of God. Correspondingly, any violation of the commandments of faith and grace are also judged... result/wage bring about the unrighteousness of evil, also known as sin. Transgression of a law is same as violation of same law.

So, and concering any kind of law, how is sin not a "violation" or "rule breaking" of commandment in one hand, but the "healing of the breach between man and God" on the other hand?

"Healing" (could be rendered as deliverance or salvation) of the breach between man and God, which is specifically caused by sin, is by the redemption of God through Jesus Christ.

Yes, sinners must be healed (delivered, saved) from sins. But, the required healing or deliverance or salvation is because they have violated commandments of whichever law of God they receive.

Therefore, sin is simply unrighteousness by any person who violates any commandment of any law of God. Without a law, there can never be sin imputed or judged.

For those of us who have received the law of faith, anything done outside the commandments of faith is sin.

Last edited by CI : 06-08-2009 at 02:10 PM.
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Old 06-08-2009, 04:39 PM
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Default Re: What is sin?

"And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day" Gen 1:31

In God's creation everything was "very good" including the ability to NOT choose Him, however, as soon as we do NOT choose Him we find ourselves in darkness. Darkness is not a thing, but rather a lack of a thing. The Thing that lacks when when we moved from God is Light. Jesus said "I am the Way, the Truth and the Light". Without Light we do not know which way to turn and we find ourselves misusing God's creation. We will find ourselves on the wrong pathway [any pathway other than the one He wants us to choose], instead on the Way.

"O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." Jerem 10:23

This, I believe is where sickness and "evil" come from: man's misuse of the "good" that God created. Without God's direction, we cannot do anything "good" at all. We walk always in darkness.

[For example, sex like everything else God created is a "good" thing" when used as He has told us to use it. When not... then it will either be sin or lead to sin].

When we walk in darkness along an unknown, unfamiliar pathway, we will eventually stumble and fall.

I believe that every man who is not an "overcomer" is a liar, including me, and every Bible preacher, teacher and minister. To the extent that anyone has not overcome everything that stands between them and God (impossible without God's help, because without Him we are blind and we walk in darkness), we deceive ourselves and others who follow us (although this may or may not be intentional).

So then what is it that stands between us and God? Darkness! The things of God are there, since He created everything, but our 'good' hopes are invisible to us. Without eyes to see and Light to disclose the Way, we cannot see anything or God of walk on the pathway that He wants each of us to walk. We need eyes to see. We need Light. We need to find the Way!

Everything of God is unseen if we have no spiritual eyes. When because of darkness, we walk off of His pathway, we will necessarily follow our own ways [using the guidance of the natural eyes, senses, and human logic] and our own ways will always lead us to away from God.

Jesus said,

"...there is none good but one, that is, God... Matt 19:17

Moving away from God is moving away from the "good" toward that which is not good, the evil [darkness]. If we are moving in an evil direction [our own ways], the result will eventually be sin.

When are walking in the Light, we must always be looking at the Light, which is Jesus. When we look away from Him even for a moment into the darkness, temptation is there and if we take hold of it, we sin.

Peter stepped out of the boat when Jesus told him to do so and he walked on the water. When he looked away from Jesus for a moment, he looked into the darkness and became afraid. Alone, he would have sunk back into his old ways and sinned, but he called for help and Jesus took him by the hand. His faith in Jesus kept him above the sin.
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Old 06-08-2009, 07:04 PM
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Default Re: What is sin?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CI View Post
Based on above definition, can it also be said that sin is the same as any measure of "lack", whether an inability to attain the mark or an inability to attain wholeness?

If so, does it mean that Christians with various but not full measures of faith, or of grace, or of Christ, are sinners because of their being "not whole"?

Consider these two statements below, especially the emboldened words, that appear to be contradictory. You may respond to my comments, please:



Laws of God, whether the Mosaic law, or the law of faith, or the law of the Spirit, are made up of commandments. Judgment(s) is/are integral part(s) of all these laws; there is/are forms of adjudications unto justification or condemnation based on how the commandments are observed by man.

For example, there is are justifications by faith and grace... each of which is a form of judgment. Both bring about result/reward known as the righteousness of God. Correspondingly, any violation of the commandments of faith and grace are also judged... result/wage bring about the unrighteousness of evil, also known as sin. Transgression of a law is same as violation of same law.

So, and concering any kind of law, how is sin not a "violation" or "rule breaking" of commandment in one hand, but the "healing of the breach between man and God" on the other hand?

"Healing" (could be rendered as deliverance or salvation) of the breach between man and God, which is specifically caused by sin, is by the redemption of God through Jesus Christ.

Yes, sinners must be healed (delivered, saved) from sins. But, the required healing or deliverance or salvation is because they have violated commandments of whichever law of God they receive.

Therefore, sin is simply unrighteousness by any person who violates any commandment of any law of God. Without a law, there can never be sin imputed or judged.

For those of us who have received the law of faith, anything done outside the commandments of faith is sin.
Christ said “I came that you (plural) may have life.” Spiritual health leads to life, spiritual sickness leads to death. If parents have a rule that 1. A child is not allowed to run out in the street without looking first and making sure no cars are coming and 2. That the child is not allowed to push his siblings into the street—what is the purpose of those “rules”? The function is not so that they could be punished, but so that they might all have life (that one might not infringe upon his own life nor that of another), and so that, if they violate those, they might ‘repent’ and thereby have life. The purpose of the ‘commandment’ is not to “satisfy the wrath of the parent” when violated, but to walk in synergy with the parents and siblings--that of the family. But transgression indicates a severance of cooperation with the parents and with the siblings.
The difference is “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” “The Lord chastises those whom He loves.” The issue is the function of the commandments. The commandments substantiate synergy with God. Justification is not just “counting” us as “non wrathworthy” but to be imparted God’s justice within the soul by grace. The function of the commandment here is to be able to walk with God in the light, and the transgression is severance from the “healthy” walking with God in the light and a turn toward the darkness. A chastisement is not to satisfy the wrath of an angry heavenly parent, but to get us back on the path of our walk with God. Likewise, repentance is not “paying” the angry God his due, but rather what the Greek word says, metanoia—a change of mind back to coincide with the mind of Christ and a return to walk in the Light of Life.
Christ’s sacrifice is sufficient. So, once again, the locus of recovering from "transgression" is not a “satisfaction of the payment toward God’s wrath,” but rather undergoing willfully God's corrective measures and guidance accompanies by an active spirit of repentance to grow back toward our walk with God in the Spirit on the "right path," out of the darkness and into the light; out of corruption, spiritual illness and death, into spiritual life and the wholeness of synergy with God. It is being unified with the Christ whose sacrifice is sufficient, and whose grace supplies abundantly.
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Old 06-08-2009, 07:13 PM
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Default Re: What is sin?

Also, I specifically said "in the sense of legalistic adjudication." "Legalistic" and "legalism" are theological terms with specific meaning:
"Legalism, in Christian theology, is a pejorative term referring to an over-emphasis on law or codes of conduct, or legal ideas, usually implying an allegation of misguided rigor, pride, superficiality, the neglect of mercy, and ignorance of the grace of God or emphasizing the letter of law over the spirit. Legalism is alleged against any view that obedience to law, not faith in God's grace, is the pre-eminent principle of redemption. Its opposite error is antinomianism, which is alleged against a view that moral laws are no longer binding." []Error
Thus, do not read more into what I wrote than what I said.
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Old 06-08-2009, 07:18 PM
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Default Re: What is sin?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Linsinbigler View Post
As many of you know, there was a united Church of Christ up until the year 1054, at which time what was known as the Great Schism happened, resulting in "East" (Orthodox) and the "West" (Roman Catholic) no longer being in communion with one another. There were many issues there, including the doctrine of God, the papacy, etc. Since that time, there was a further breach as to basic understandings of things such as sin and original sin, although through dialogue, we are finding the breach to be one perhaps more of emphasis, not of divergence. Nonetheless:
The East and West viewed sin differently by the time that the Great Schism came about, and even moreso later. The West (both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism) has tended to see sin as being primarily "infraction which needs satisfied." The East (Orthodoxy), however, has seen sin as primarily spiritual illness, decay and death.
In several other posts I answered the question "is this sin" or "is that sin" from the affirmative. However, I think that I need to clarify that what I mean by may be quite different from what others do when they answer in the affirmative. Thus, what I am about to post is to clear up what I mean from my perspective as an Orthodox Christian with regard to sin.
"When desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death." (Holy Scripture: James 1.15)
What is sin? Sin, from the Greek hamartia (‘amartia) literally means “not complete” or “not whole.” It is from a (ha or ‘am) meaning “not” and artia (from artios) meaning “complete,” whole, full mark or full measure. This is also why hamartia is also defined as “missing the mark.”
Sin is, in Orthodoxy, seen as primarily illness, not as “legal violation” or “rule-breaking” in the sense of requiring legalistic adjudication, but rather as requiring the healing of a breach between man and God, of re-establishing our full cooperation with God as "coworkers." It is true that sin is transgression of the divine law, as Scripture tells us, but we see that the divine law “of freedom” in the New Testament as God’s path to wholeness. Just as the natural law tells us that we cannot take poison without physical death, and therefore to violate the natural law by taking poison will result in illness and death, so also, when we transgress the divine law in similar manner by partaking of spiritual poisons, the result is spiritual illness and death. Therefore, to say it is transgression of the law is true, in that transgression of the law both is an act of spiritual illness and death and also results in the same. Truly the “writ against us” is torn up, but this to heal the breach, not to appease and satisfy a bloodthirsty deity. It is something that needs “healed,” not merely adjudicated. Thus, forgiveness is needed for the trespasses, but also remission is needed. Forgiveness and remission are two different things and two distinct Greek words. Forgiveness is mending the breach, but remission, as with remission of cancer, is removing of the illness. Both are spiritual healing—healing the breach then healing the illness. If one severs his arm, he will lose his arm and die unless two things happen: 1. The breach is mended—to try and regraft the muscles, ligaments, etc. but also 2. That the resulting infection is also healed. Thus, when Orthodoxy speaks of “cleansing” sin, it is referring to cleansing the infection—removing by the “washing” of the grace of God that which corrupts the soul as spiritual infection and leads to death. This is why you will see in Orthodox prayer services Christ being referred to as "You who are the Physician and healer of our souls and bodies" or other words to that effect. I hope that this clarifies the matters that some of you were wondering about in some of the other threads.
Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!
Fr. Harry Linsinbigler

Sin is simply this, To teach the earthly understanding of the word of God proclaiming it to be the spiritual understanding. That is to transgress the word of God and you must forgive those that have transgressed agasinst you to be forgiven you own transgression.By proclaiming the law of moses to be the law of Israel. you break all the laws of God .
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Old 06-08-2009, 07:32 PM
SeraphimH
 
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Default Re: What is sin?

Excellent posts Father! I'll dispense with false humility and elaborate on your point if I may.

Sin and repentance are a change in us, not in God. God is love. The "West" (most Catholics/Protestants, I can feel CC breathing heavily now) has adopted a view on God that is anthropomorphic, a product of Augustine of Hippo (although I don't think his view was intentional, being schooled in classical philosophy tends to make one somewhat philosophical...). Just as Fr. has said, we do not pray to assuage God's wrath, we do not beg to be released from punishment. God does not requite evil for evil, nor does he serve a higher necessity to re-establish His "lost honor". All mention of God's wrath in the OT and NT are merely pedagogical in nature. Fear insights correction. Since I tend to get long-winded, I prefer to quote St. Anthony the Great (3rd century Church Father) from the Philokalia:

God is good, dispassionate, and immutable. Now someone who thinks it reasonable and true to affirm that God does not change, may well ask how, in that case, it is possible to speak of God as rejoicing over those who are good and showing mercy to those who honor Him, and as turning away from the wicked and being angry with sinners. To this it must be answered that God neither rejoices nor grows angry, for to rejoice and to be offended are passions; nor is He won over by the gifts of those who honor Him, for that would mean He is swayed by pleasure. It is not right that the Divinity feel pleasure or displeasure from human conditions.
He is good, and He only bestows blessings and never does harm, remaining always the same. We men, on the other hand, if we remain good through resembling God, are united to Him, but if we become evil through not resembling God, we are separated from Him. By living in holiness we cleave to God; but by becoming wicked we make Him our enemy. It is not that He grows angry with us in an arbitrary way, but it is our own sins that prevent God from shining within us and expose us to demons who torture us. And if through prayer and acts of compassion we gain release from our sins, this does not mean that we have won God over and made Him to change, but that through our actions and our turning to the Divinity, we have cured our wickedness and so once more have enjoyment of God's goodness. Thus to say that God turns away from the wicked is like saying that the sun hides itself from the blind. [Chap. 150]

This is the Orthodox view on the nature of God, sin, and repentance to the best of my understanding. Please correct me Fr. if I'm off base/topic.

Last edited by SeraphimH : 06-08-2009 at 07:40 PM.
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Old 06-08-2009, 07:33 PM
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Default Re: What is sin?

Quote:
Originally Posted by colin View Post
Sin is simply this, To teach the earthly understanding of the word of God proclaiming it to be the spiritual understanding. That is to transgress the word of God and you must forgive those that have transgressed agasinst you to be forgiven you own transgression.By proclaiming the law of moses to be the law of Israel. you break all the laws of God .
Colin, I have defined sin as what its actual meaning is in the Greek. Please see the other post, where Scripture tells us not to be simple with regard to understanding the word of God, but only in regard to sin. As for your accusation that I "break all the laws of God," Scripture says the same of all of us, that all who have transgressed in one aspect have transgressed the whole law. Only Christ has not, which is why we move away from sin, which separates us from Christ in energeia, as Scripture tells us, and unite ourselves to Him, the only sinless one.

Last edited by Linsinbigler : 06-08-2009 at 08:55 PM.
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