The Wages of Sin


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 6:21-23)

St. Gregory Palamas comments:

“In the beginning, as you all know, the serpent which originated evil stung man through sin, made him mortal, threw him out of paradise and brought him into this fleeting, painful world. Now, unless we hasten though repentance to heal the wounds he has inflicted, he will dispatch us to everlasting punishment and hell-fire.” (St. Gregory Palamas: The Homilies, pp 259-260)

The end result of the sin of Adam and Eve was mortality, death.  St. Gregory certainly sees hell not as the result of sin, not even what awaits the sinner.  Rather, hell is something that awaits the unrepentant sinner.  It is something we can avoid through repentance.  Sin is not framed by St. Gregory as the breaking of some law which requires retributive justice to punish us.  Rather sin is a wound inflicted on us which needs to be healed.  The healing balm available to us comes through baptism and chrismation, given to us when we first begin our spiritual life.  Repentance and the spiritual life for Christians mean removing all the obstacles to our healing, and then Christ heals us and receives us into the eternal rest of His heavenly Kingdom.   In Orthodoxy, even holy unction, the sacrament of healing, is about the forgiveness of sins.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.  (1 Peter 2:24)