The Wages of Sin

“Having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Romans 6:18-23)

“Sin is one thing but instinctive reaction or passion is another. These are our reactions: pride, anger, sexual indulgence, hate greed and so on. The corresponding sins are the gratifications of these passions: when a man acts and brings into corporeal reality those works which were suggested to him by his innate desires. It is impossible to exist without natural desires arising, but not to give way to them is by no means impossible.

Therefore, The Man (God) gave us instructions, as I said, which purify our passion and those evil dispositions which come from our inner man. He instilled into man’s inner conscious the power to judge good and evil; he woke it from sleep; he showed the causes from which sins rise and he says to us, ‘The Law says “Do not commit adultery”, but I say to you, do not entertain desire. The Law says “Do no murder”, but I say, do not give way to anger. If you do entertain a fleshly desire today and you do not commit adultery, it does not cease inwardly troubling until it whips you into action. If you are irritated and stir up anger against your brother, then you strike him, speak evil against him, then plot against him and so go forward little by little and at last you come to murder him.’ Again the Law says, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, etc., but Our Lord admonishes us not only to bear patiently the blows of one who strikes us, but humbly to turn to him the other cheek. And so the object of the Law is to teach us not to do to others what we do not wish to suffer, and therefore it cuts away our wrong-doing through our fear of suffering. Now the object must be, as I am always saying, to cast away our hatred, our love of pleasure, our vainglory and the rest of our unruly desires.

I repeat that the aim of Christ, our Master, is precisely to teach us how we come to commit all our sins; how we fall into our all our evils…Finally he shows us how we come to despise and disobey the commandments of God and adds the medicine that all may be able to obey and be saved. What then is the medicine and what the cause of our contempt? Listen to what the Lord himself tells us: ‘Learn of me, for I am meek and humble of heart and you shall find rest for your souls.’ There you have it in a nutshell: he has taught us the root and cause of all evils and also the remedy for it, leading to all good.”

(Dorotheos of Gaza in Discourses & Sayings: Desert Humor & Humility, pgs. 80-81)

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