What is sin?

edited December 1969 in Faith Issues
What about sin makes it a barrier between us and God? After confession I tend to find myself actually feeling physically lighter. Problems seem less overwhelming, less significant, and it actually feels easier to breathe. Is this just in my head or do any of you experience the same thing? What can I do so that I'm not distracted with the thought in the back of my head while I'm praying, that my sins are just bearing down on me?

They say that you should go to confession at least once a month but from my experience, that's not nearly enough. My problem is that I don't even live in the same state as my foc, which is why I'm asking this.


  • I've read that 'the righteous may sin ten times a day'.

    The best way is to put yourself in a state of being constantly watchful against sin as much as possible, with the Lord's help. It's very hard at first but with time it will becomes a good habit. The Lord knows you are far from your FOC.

    Till you meet your FOC I think you should revise your daily activities and ask Christ to forgive you in your prayer each night before sleeping, then trying hard to avoid repeating a sin the next day, always through asking God's help.

  • There is this really awesome book written by HH Pope Shenouda the third, I really can't think about it on the top of my head (sorry!), but its has some practises in which you could avoid sinning. Such as always believing and acknowledging that God is there with you everywhere, where ever you go, He is there watching, listening, feeling your every move. So how could you dare sin while the God of life is in front of you in which he gave us the power bare the temptation of sin?

    Once you practise this, you find that you think about God every second, knowing that He is there.

    I think its from Words of Spiritual Benefit Volume 2.

    I really love his books, I am sure you'll find whatever worry or question you have in any of his books. I know I have. ;)

    Please remember me in your prayers please, the devil is fighting.
  • Thank you both for posting, you both offered very good advice.

    Yes, the devil seems to be running rampant now. I will definitely keep you in my prayers.
  • I actually find sin to be misunderstood by most, even Orthodox Christians. Whenever we think of sin, generally we think of sin as this evil thing i did/do (or someone else did/does) that basically punches our ticket to hell. This legalistic way of thinking of sin (and many other things such as atonement, redemption, salvation etc) is as a result of some church teachers; such as a catholic father named Anselm, and many protestant influences on both clergy and laity.

    Sin, in actuality, is derived from a greek word. This term in the original greek would make sense as an archery term, sin in origin means 'missing the mark'. Much like an archer aims for the centre on a target, we aim to be like Christ. Yes there are things that are sins, like stealing or adultery, etc but we cant simply think of sin as a bad thing resulting in hell. We, by no deed of our own, were given an immeasurable grace, namely being created in the very image of The Almighty. This means that the standard (or centre of the target) for a Christian is perfection, it is the very image of God Himself. Christ came not only to redeem us, but to set an example for us of what we were supposed to aim for. First He created us in His image and then came and then came and took a humanity upon Himself that is consubstantial with ours, making it His very own and showed us how we are to live. Through Christ's example, resurrection, and the gift of The Holy Spirit we are able to reach back to that very image. That is the entire point of Orthodox life, to reach back to that image we were created upon. Its not enough to say "oh i didnt swear, oh i didnt lie, i didnt etc". Our standard is perfection, anything less is not befitting the image we were graced with.

    The church sacraments are all there as aids to help us reach our goal. Holy communion being the very crux of the church sacraments. We take Christ inside us, we truly become one with Him as His flesh and His blood become our flesh and our blood. But communion isnt a one-way ticket to Heaven either, communion is a means aiding us in becoming like Christ. Everything the church does, from the metanioas to the hymns we sing to the candles we light in the liturgy, these are all [i]means[i] of helping us reach back to that image. Sin in essence is missing the image of Christ in our lives, we must struggle continuously against this and beseech God for the strength to achieve a likeness befitting the image of God and in likeness with the example set by Christ.

    I apologize for the lengthy message and may God grant us all the strength that we may act, speak, think, walk, breathe, etc in the manner which He meant for us

    Pray for me, a brother in The Lord
  • Don't apologize for the lengthy reply; every little part of that was helpful.

    "Missing the mark"- that's exactly how Abouna Anastasi from the California monastery defined it. But I never really got it until now. It makes sense. That was a great explanation. Please pray for me as well.

    The question that leaves me with is, how does communion make us one with Christ? How can the act of His flesh and blood becoming our flesh and blood, which would seemingly be a one-time deal, be repeated over and over again? How can I make it so that I feel like I am actually uniting myself with Christ when I take communion?

    Sorry for all of the questions; I tend to become overly curious at times.
  • As a Christian, whose goal is to be like Christ, the renewal of the sacrament of communion is more for our personal benefit than anything else. As we lives our lives out each and every single day we fall prey to the temptation of sin and we act in a manner truly not befitting the image we were created upon. As we fall prey to this we must renew our bond with Christ and become reinvigorated for the struggle so that we can aim higher and higher to our goal. The continual act of renewing that sacrament in our lives continues to bring us closer and closer to Christ by making us literally one with Him, its our lives that remove us from that.

    One must be wary of their 'feelings', not because feelings are bad or evil but rather because feelings are misleading and are easily swayed under the temptations and movement of the devil. But one must realize that in order to truly unite oneself to Christ we must endeavor to take communion with all preparedness and all humility, having a regular confession and repentance where we renounce our previous error and repent from them. We must also endeavor to attend in 'fear and trembling' at the liturgy when the elements are coming under the influence of The Holy Spirit and becoming the body and blood of Christ.

    Its lucky for us that Christ gives us His body and blood to strengthen us, at every single liturgy we attend
  • The least of all,
    Khristos Anesti! I'm thankful for your posts especially about sin, it really helped me a great deal. Thank you.

    As for partaking of the Eucharist, I'll share a quote from the book, 'Unseen Warfare.'

    "Our Lord Christ Himself strikes down our enemies through us, or in company with us. For he who eats Christ's flesh and drinks His blood abides with Christ and He in him. Therefore, when we overcome the enemies, it is the blood of Christ which overcomes, as it is written in Revelation: 'and they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb' (Rev. 12:11)."-Unseen Warfare.
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