Saintliness and Sinlessness

We sometimes imagine – and this really is purely imagination – that the saints were perfect, sinless, infallible, faultless and mistake free.  But to disabuse ourselves of such imaginary saints, we need only think about the real lives of saints as presented in the Scriptures.  God truly loved and favored Abraham, Sarah, Moses, David and St. Paul, but their lives include serious misdeeds and sins.  Sanctity consists not of sinlessness but of a willingness to repent, not of a mistake free existence but of a willingness to serve God.

“A Christianity reduced to morality, to norms, is impossible to practice because not one of Christ’s commandments is fulfilled without love for Christ. ‘If you love Me, you will keep My commandments (John 14:15). There is a kind of moral person with a passion for cleanliness, who runs to confession because for him any little spot is unbearable, just as it is unbearable for any well-dressed man of the world. But this is not repentance; it is closer to a feeling of human decency. But one can’t say about a saint, ‘He was a thoroughly decent person.’ A saint is thirsty not for ‘decency,’ not for cleanliness, and not for absence of sin, but for unity with God. He does not live interested in himself (the introspection of a clean fellow), but in God.”    (Alexander Schmemann, The Journals of Alexander Schmemann, pgs.300-301)