It’s rare today to hear about sin except in reference to a rich dessert termed “sinful.” What is sin? The root word for sin in Hebrew means forgetfulness – forgetting who we are, how we are, why we are, where we are, and where we’re going as God’s creation. Sin is any thought, word, or action that endangers and undermines our relationship with God, our personal integrity, and our love for our neighbour. Sin is either venial or mortal; something either not seriously wrong or deadly, in terms of our relationship with God, neighbour, and our self.
Where did sin originate? Ultimately it comes from Satan, the “father of lies.” (Jn 8:44) God revealed this in the Genesis story of man and woman’s fall from His grace. Satan tempted Eve to think she and Adam could be independent of God. Later, when God confronted them about their sin of disobedience, Adam blamed Eve who in turn blamed the devil. God asked her, “Why did you do such a thing? The woman answered, ‘The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it.’” (Gn 3:13) Sin is the result of Satan’s tricking us into thinking that we can make our self free and happy without having to obey God’s will. Sin doesn’t come from God but from man and woman freely choosing to satisfy their selfish desires. This is why sin is delusional. It’s the false belief that we can satisfy our needs independently of God and be happy.
The world today is riddled with sin which generates a culture of death through abortion, euthanasia, sexual trafficking and perversion, pornography, dishonesty, assisted suicide, hopelessness, and a horrible disrespect for the dignity of the human person. This is why the world desperately needs Jesus Christ. The Psalmist wrote, “If You, O Lord, mark our evildoing, Lord who can stand? But with You is forgiveness, that You may be revered.” (Ps 130:3-4) Jesus revealed, “I have come to call sinners to repentance, not the self-righteous.” (Lk 5:32) This is what gives us the hope that St. Paul wrote about. “We have that spirit of faith of which the Scripture says, ‘Because I believed, I spoke out.’ We believe and so we speak, knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will raise us up along with Jesus and place both us and you in His presence … We do not lose heart, because our inner being is renewed each day even though our body is being destroyed at the same time.” (2 Cor 4:13-14, 16) The outer life of our body is daily ebbing away but our soul’s life is renewed daily through the Holy Spirit purifying and leading our spirit to repentance, forgiveness, and restitution for the damage caused by sin.
How do we renew our soul? By making sure, in Padre Pio’s words, that it’s “a nest of love” for the Lord to reside in. To welcome Jesus as the most important Guest of our soul we must admit that we’re sinners in need of salvation. Since Jesus came to call sinners, only those who recognize their sinfulness or tendency to sin see their need for Him and show gratitude for His merciful presence. Recognizing ourselves as sinners keeps us aware that our spirit needs the Holy Spirit to keep it clean and directed toward God, Heaven, freedom, and happiness. Since sin damages the humanity of the sinner and those sinned against we must first repent, then seek forgiveness, and finally make restitution for the damage we caused. Self-righteous people think they have no sin and so feel no need for Jesus. They shut out God’s Spirit and follow their delusional thoughts ignoring or rejecting God’s existence as essential for human fulfilment.
Our spirit reflects who we are, what we believe, and determines our relationships. Relationships are encounters between individual spirits. My spirit reflects what’s in my heart, which is the door to my soul. It reflects either an open or a closed heart. When God meets us it’s an encounter between spirits. The Holy Spirit encounters our spirit and vice versa. Since we can’t meet God unless He reveals Himself to us, our spirit must be receptive to His. If it isn’t then the Holy Spirit can’t touch our heart and renew our soul. This is why Jesus teaches us that the only unforgiveable sin is that against the Holy Spirit. “I give you my word, every sin will be forgiven mankind and all the blasphemies men utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. He carries the guilt of his sin without end.” (Mk 3:28-29)
If a person’s spirit rejects your spirit a relationship is impossible and you can’t help or influence him or her. Similarly if my spirit is closed to God’s Spirit He can’t help me. Self-righteous people sin against the Holy Spirit by refusing to admit their sin. It’s not that God won’t forgive them as much as He can’t because they remain unreceptive to His mercy. God created us to love and be like Him. But consciousness of our tendency to sin makes us aware of our need for the Holy Spirit to purify our spirit and lead us to repentance, forgiveness, and restitution. Thus we are grateful to Jesus for saving us through His Church from our fallen nature making us truly free and joyful. (frsos)