Original sin and deliverance in Christ – Part 2

1 August 2019

The mystery of original sin can be understood only in relation to the death and resurrection of Christ. The Word of God indicates two opposite polarities – Adam and Christ. He who abides in Adam is in death and slavery. He who enters into the death of Christ has new life and true freedom.

We were born as children of Adam without the divine life. If we are not born again but continue in this state of spiritual death, we will be condemned for ever. Jesus said: “You must be born again. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (Jn 3:6f) How shall we be born again? This means that we receive the Lord Jesus into our life through metanoia and faith! “To all who received Him He gave power to become children of God.” (Jn 1:12)

Question: How did Adam and the second Adam – Christ – act?

Answer: Adam acted on his own, separately from God. And that was the tragedy of Paradise. Jesus – the second Adam, on the contrary, did everything in dependence on God. His programme was: “Father, not My will, but Yours, be done.” (Lk 22:42)

Question: Why is the divine life so weak and almost not visible in us?

Answer: The reason is that we still live by our will, by our intellect, i.e. by our soul. We work and serve by our own might. We do not draw strength from God. An independent soul stands in the way of the new life; therefore we have to lose it for the sake of Jesus. He says: “Whoever loses his soul for My sake and the Gospel’s will save it.” (Mk 8:35)

Legal person:

God regards Adam and everyone who comes from him as a single old man. In the same way, He regards Christ and everyone who comes from Him as a single new man. If we use the term “legal person”, it means that every one of us who have received Jesus as our Saviour and Lord is part of His Mystical Body. Whatever is done by the Head relates to the whole body with all its members.

Let us use five pictures to illustrate five situations:

The first situation: The domination of the old man (pic.1)

The Holy Scripture uses three important expressions. The first one is sin, the second one is the old man and the third one is the body. (cf. Rom 6:6)

The word “sin” in the singular is understood as the source of evil or the devil’s spiritual seed which entered into human nature through our first parents. Human nature was infected with the devil’s seed and the Scripture calls this corrupt nature the “old man”. Our personal sins are the fruit of this corrupt nature with the seed of the devil, original sin.

The term “body” in the Scripture does not mean our biological body with its members and the five senses only, but it also means the powers of our soul, such as intellect and will.

Sin is personified by a ruler who keeps man bound and forces him to commit all personal sins. Man becomes a slave of sin; he is subject to this tyrant and fulfils all his commands.

In this combination, the two of them – sin and the old man – search for an instrument and discover the body. Mental powers of the body employ the members. They either cause eyes to look or ears to listen or hands to move. In this way the body fulfils orders dictated by sin and supported by the old man. Sin is the boss, the old man is in unity with it and the body fulfils their orders in practice in the form of trespasses. The result of their cooperation is a number of sins committed by us.

The second situation: The old man is crucified with Christ (pic.2)

The Scripture says: “Adam became a living soul.” (1Cor 15:45) Through sin he lost the divine life, and what remained to him was only mental (psychical) life which through sin is joined to the devil. He became independent of God like the devil.

Independent development of mental life turns man away from God and leads to self-divinization (“You shall be as God, as godsGen 3:5). The solution is crucifixion with Christ and union with His death: We know that our old man was crucified with Him… We were buried with Him through baptism into death.” (Rom 6:4-6) To walk by faith means to put our baptism into practice! If I unite with the power of Christ’s crucifixion and death by faith, the devil, sin and the old man are paralysed and overcome.

Question: What about the body?

Answer: The old man is crucified and immersed in Christ’s death; therefore the power of sin cannot control the body. The body no longer listens to sin, nor does it agree with its suggestions. Under these circumstances, the body has nothing more to do, it is no longer employed. My mouth used to constantly criticize but now it no longer works this way, it has lost its job. My feet which used to walk in their own ways no longer do so; they are unemployed too. My eyes, ears and even my whole body have become unemployed (katargethe) in regard to sin.

The third situation: The Holy Spirit and the new man (pic.3)

“…put on the new man…” (Eph 4:24) “He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him … therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit…” (1Cor 6:17.20)

Here again, we have three important factors: the Holy Spirit, the new man and the body. Sin, which was personified as a slave-holder and tyrant, gives place to the Holy Spirit who now comes to power.

The new man mentioned in the Bible is our new nature which we received when we were born anew of the Spirit (Jn 3:7).

Through our act of faith and total self-surrender to Christ in a particular situation, the old man is immersed in Christ’s death. It means that at this moment the power of the new man is activated. The new man was paralysed by sin and by the old man until now. So this is no head-on fight with sin or outward mortification of the flesh in the first place, but rather a change of our nature through faith. In this new combination, the Holy Spirit and the new man influence the body. The body becomes their instrument. It fulfils the orders inspired by the Spirit and accepted by the new man. The Holy Spirit has now taken power in place of sin, the former boss. The new man now submits to the Spirit of God. The body does the will of God in practice. The three of them make unity, agree with one another, and the result of their cooperation is the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace (see Gal 5:22).

The fourth situation: The new life does not work (pic.4)

It is not enough that we were baptized, turned away from the world and received Christ as our Lord, and it is not enough that we received the fullness of the same Spirit as the Apostles. We also have to live by the Spirit and that is a fight!

Living a new life is conditioned by walking in faith (cf. Rom 6:11). As soon as I stop keeping watch (cf. Mt 26:41), the old man automatically comes down from the cross, “revives” and paralyses the new life. The old man takes power and makes the body an instrument of sin again (cf. Rom 7:5).

That is why again and again through an act of repentance and faith we have to enter into the death of Christ (cf. 2Cor 4:10f), otherwise the old man will breed jealousy, pride, adultery, quarreling etc.

The fifth situation: The new life works (pic.5)

Unless the old man is on the cross, Christ cannot live in me (pic.4). But if in a particular situation the old man is on the cross and immersed in death with Christ (pic.5), sin does not influence the body and “Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20) through the Holy Spirit. This is walking in the Spirit, the life of victory, the life of freedom! This is what we need to learn to live first of all in the interior prayer. Jesus says: “Could you not watch with Me at least one hour (daily)?” (Mt 26:40)

Let us not abide in Adam, in death and slavery! Let us enter by faith into the death of Christ, where we have new life and true freedom!

 

+ Elijah

Patriarch of the Byzantine Catholic Patriarchate

+ Methodius OSBMr                         + Timothy OSBMr

Secretary Bishops

 

Download: Original sin and deliverance in Christ – Part 2 (1/8/2019)

 

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Word of Life

“For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh.”

Rom 8:3 (6/10/2019 – 20/10/2019)