My Lent Words 1: The sickness of sin

I’m planning on blogging some thoughts during Lent – you are welcome to comment on them.

In the Orthodox tradition, sin is seen as an ailment, a chronic sickness, with which we all inevitably live. In that way, it’s not unlike HIV or MS – some days are better and some are worse, but we’ve always got it.

So, I guess we’re all “sin-positive.” And Lent is the time when we check into the hospital for our sin treatments. Like any treatment, sometimes it sucks, it hurts, the medicine is bitter, and the therapy is too hard.

The three ideas behind sin in the Old Testament are summarised by the words pesa ‘transgression’, awon ‘iniquity’ or hatta ‘wrong-doing’.

That first word, pesa is translated by the words like transgression, rebellion, hubris, or trespass; it describes humankind in deliberate and wilful rebellion against God’s rule.

‘But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities.’ (Isaiah 53:5a)

‘Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.’ (Psalm 51:1,2)

This rebellion has deadly consequences. The last verse of Isaiah makes this clear, ‘…and I shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men that have rebelled against me.’ (Isaiah 66:24)

This state of rebellion affects all of us, all that we do and all we think. Yet it is our choice and we are responsible for it and its consequences. Repentance is the gift from God which allows us to turn from rebellion and accept his law and his rule.

In the end, we can live with this illness, because we don’t bear it alone. That’s really good news.

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