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Ten Concepts, book by H. H. Pope Shenouda III

32- Sin is against God


The seriousness of sin lies in its being against God.

Therefore David said to the Lord in the Psalm of repentance, "Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight". (Ps 51:4). And about sinners David said they, "have not set You before them", that is: they did not think that You see and hear and

watch them. A sinner is like one losing consciousness not knowing what he is doing. He needs someone to awaken him, to make him come to his senses and show him what he is doing.

Sin signifies that you do not feel God's presence.

If you do feel God's presence, you would not commit sin in His eyes without being ashamed! Perhaps this was what occupied the mind of Joseph the Righteous when he said, "How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?"

So, when you sin, you sin against God before anything else, you resist Him, disobey Him and defy Him. You grieve His Holy Spirit and defile His dwelling in your heart...

Do you feel all this when you sin or when you confess your sins? Or you just mention your sin simply without feeling its seriousness and offensiveness. It is like a sick person who when asked about his illness replies, 'Oh it is nothing really!' when it may in fact be cancer or AIDS!!         Image: The betrayal of Judas Iscariot, and showing Peter stretching out his hand with his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear صورة: قبلة الخيانة، خيانة يهوذا الإسخريوطي، ويظهر في الصورة بطرس استل سيفه من غمده، وضرب عبد رئيس الكهنة، وقطع أذنه

Image: The betrayal of Judas Iscariot, and showing Peter stretching out his hand with his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear

صورة: قبلة الخيانة، خيانة يهوذا الإسخريوطي، ويظهر في الصورة بطرس استل سيفه من غمده، وضرب عبد رئيس الكهنة ملخس، وقطع أذنه

Sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4). It is transgression and breaking God's commandments, it is lack of concern, and a breach of God's rights, dignity and fatherhood. Sin has thus two aspects: with regard to God, and with regard to people.

With regard to God, sin is revolt against Him.

It is a revolt and disobedience against God. Imagine then that dust and ashes rebel and revolt against God the Creator of heaven and earth!

It is a kind of arrogance that dust revolts against God. Before breaking the Commandment, arrogance would have broken the heart within.

Sin, thus, is arrogance and haughtiness. Right then are the words said in the book of Proverbs, "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall" (Prov. 16:18).

Through such pride and arrogance man falls. A humble person who lays himself down to the dust would not fall, but the haughty rises up then falls.

Sin is also lack of love to God.

In this regard, St. John the Apostle says, "If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1 John 2:15).

Two ways then are before a person : either the love of the world or the love of God. And clearly a sinner prefers the love of the world to the love of God; or rather he loves himself more than he loves God (and of course he loves himself in a way that leads it to perdition).

On the other hand sin is lack of love to God, since a sinner disobeys God and revolts against Him.

Sin is enmity with God or disagreement with Him.

This is evident in the words of St. James the Apostle, "Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God" (James 4:4).

If the world "enmity" is hard, let us use at least the word "disagreement" as sinners need actually a reconciliation. That is why St. Paul the Apostle said that God "has given us the ministry of reconciliation", so he said, "we are ambassadors for Christ... we implore you... be reconciled to God" (2 Cor. 5:19,20).

If you are a sinner, surely you need to be reconciled to God.

Being in disagreement, sin is separation from God.

For, "what communion has light with darkness?" (2 Cor.6:14). God is light and sinners live in the outer darkness as they love darkness more than light because their deeds are evil, "For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed" (John 3:19,20).

When the lost son loved sin, he left his father's house and journeyed to a far country (Luke 15:13), Likewise a sinner is separated from God by his heart, his mind and his deeds, as we have discussed this issue before here on in other sections. Of such separation the Lord says, "... but their heart is far from Me" (Mark 7:6).

Staying in such separation means that the sinner is not concerned or keen to associate with God!! So he stops communing with God and puts an end to his relation with Him and his communion with the Holy Spirit as long as he lives in sin.

By sin we grieve God's Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30).

This is the case of sin from the beginning as we see in the story of the great flood; for the Holy Bible says, "the Lord was sorry... and He was grieved in His heart" (Gen. 6:6).

God is grieved when He sees the creation He made in His image and likeness being destroyed and defiled before His eyes.

When we sin, we do not only grieve God's Spirit, but we also resist and disobey Him as St. Stephen the Deacon said to the Jews on his martyrdom, "You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you" (Acts 7:51).

A sinner may go to the extent that God's Spirit departs from him.

The Holy Bible said about King Saul, "But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the Lord troubled him" (1 Sam. 16:14). What a hard thing that God's Spirit departs a person!!.

If this is hard for you and you exclaim, 'How can it be that God's Spirit departs from me?', I shall facilitate the meaning for you. I tell you that it is not God's Spirit that departs from you but it is you who departs from God's Spirit. But in both cases there is departing and separation between you and God's Spirit.

St. Paul the Apostle speaks hard words about sin especially about adultery.

He says, "Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not!" (1 Cor. 6:15).

This means that a person, by sin, defiles God's temple. So the Apostle says, "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are" (1 Cor. 3:16,17).

Therefore, when you say 'I have sinned' think about the words so that you may know what they entail.

Do you realize that they entail the sins we have mentioned before, and the details thereof? Besides, sin signifies something else :

Sin is a contempt of sonship to God

If you are indeed God's child, created in His image and likeness you will never sin as St. John the Apostle said, "Whoever has been born of God does not sin... and he cannot sin", "and the wicked one does not touch him"

(1 John 3:9; 1 John 5:18). St. John said also about the Lord, "If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him" (1 John 2:29).

Is a sinner aware, when he is committing sin, that he is God's child and God's image? Or is he at that time surrendering this privilege with its attributes? The Apostle says about this, "In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest" (1 John 3:10).

Therefore St. Paul rebuked sinners describing them as,

"illegitimate and not sons" (Heb. 12:8).

Sin is also unfaithfulness to God.

A sinner, by his sinning, is siding with God's enemies, that is, Satan and his hosts, against God and even becoming one of them as the Lord said, rebuking the Jews, "If you were Abraham's children, you would do the works of Abraham... you are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do" (John 8:39,44). St. John the Baptist also reprimanded them, saying, "Brood of vipers!" (Matt. 3:7). He meant that they were the children of the devil.

Sin is likewise crucifixion of the Lord Christ.

St. Paul the Apostle says in this regard, "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift... if they fall away to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame" (Heb. 6:4-6).

Or at least, since no sin shall be forgiven unless carried by Christ on the Cross, then, by your sins you are adding a load on Christ's cross and adding bitter drops into the cup He drank.

By your sins you put abominations on Christ's Cross.

He carried the sins of all the world to redeem us by His blood (1 John 2:2), among which are the sins you have committed and still commit.

Hear then in fear what St. Paul the Apostle says, "Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?" (Heb. 10:28,29).

Consider these words to recognize how offensive sin is:

Trampled the Son of God underfoot... Counted the blood of the covenant... Insulted the Spirit of grace... Crucify again the Son of God and put Him to open shame. It is indeed unfaithfulness to God and unfaithfulness to the grace we acquired in baptism, for the Apostle says, "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Gal. 3:27).

Or do you think that it was Judas alone who betrayed Christ? No, everyone who sins betrays Christ, betrays his own baptism and holy confirmation, and betrays the holy blood which cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).

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