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" For the wages of sin is death " (Rom 6:23)

The major problem. If we glance retrospectively to all problems of humankind, trying to find their causes or attempting to discern the most outstanding and vital problem, we are always going to run into the reality of sin. Of this grow out –directly or indirectly- all the other problems, sufferings and conflicts that human beings go through, and that reality in itself constitutes the most serious problem for humankind. As we have seen sin began with the first sin or original sin. To this each human being adds his personal sin contributing to the major problem and to an increase of its consequences. As Paul said, "since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom 3:23).

Consequences of the original sin. God’s perfect creation was radically changed by the presence of sin. Although the boundaries that God had set in his sovereignty and which prevent the world to collapse, have not been trespassed, a great disorder came into what previously was harmony and righteousness and a series of curses affected the human beings and the earth.

  • Man lost righteousness and holiness in which he dwelt, when freely and consciously he rebelled against God’s command (cf. Gen 3:10).
  • Man lost his friendship with God. Losing the righteousness and holiness in which he was in communion with God, man also lost the friendship and communion with his Creator. God comes nearer, but man goes away from him (cf. Gen 3:8).
  • As such, man lost his privileged situation where he was enjoying the peace, the protection, the life and the favor of God (cf. Gen 3:23-24).
  • Rupture of the harmony of the relationship between human beings. Man becomes a stranger to his peers. Much more terrible are the consequences within the family relationships. Man and woman lose the self-giving love, and the tensions, the concupiscence and the domination appear (cf. Gen 3:7,12,26).
  • Man remains limited having lost many of his virtues and capabilities. Life goes away from him, since the presence of sin is opposed to life. So, in his body infirmity and pain may occur (cf. Gen 3:16-19).
  • The human soul is weakened too and darkened by sin, being limited in its faculties, especially those more fragile: his emotions and feelings will remind man of his past wrongdoings. From the beginning we see man oppressed by feelings of shame and fear (cf. Gen 3:10). Similarly his understanding will help him to try to justify himself (cf. Gen 3:11-13) by foolishly reasoning with the back turned to the truth: "God made human beings straightforward, but they have devised many schemes" (Ecc 7:29). Man continues capable of knowing the truth but intelligence leads us many times to error. The will, with the bad influence of the other faculties and moreover deviated by the desires of the flesh, will seek happiness where it is not; and as in the first sin, it will seek independence from God.
  • Inclination to sin. Sin calls for sin, and the original sin brought into the heart of man a tendency towards evil, and since then it lives the struggle between the inclination of the sinful nature or flesh and the spirit of man, which was initially in control of the situation: "For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other" (Gal 5:17).
  • Transmission of these consequences to all human race, as something that has entered the genes and is inherited affecting all humankind: "By one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners" (Rom 5:19). Sin has become a sort of inherited incurable disease, as David recognizes: "Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me" (Ps 51:5).
  • Death enters into the world: "Sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin" (Rom 5:12), "for the wages of sin is death" (Rom 6:23). Of spiritual death we have spoken while mentioning the rupture of the communion between the spirit of man and the Spirit of God. But death has also reached the body, leading to physical death. Although man possessed a mortal nature, God had not destined him to die. But death entered into the world as consequence of sin, because of the wrong use of his freedom by man.
  • The creation rebels and becomes strange and hostile to man (cf. Gen 3:17,19). Since man had dominion over the earth, with sin disorder entered into the world and the creation remained submitted, "subjected to futility" (Rom 8:20).
  • The devil will continue lying in wait for the human race, as tempter (cf. Gen 3:15).
  • The devil will not remain satisfied in being only a tempter, but he will use as a tyrant, the authority that man goes on giving him each time he submits to him through sin, because "everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin" (Jn 8:34) and "people are slaves to whatever masters them" (2 Pt 2:19). The devil, through his influence and his dominion —that never comes to be absolute over man— seeks to oppress first and then to lead man to death. First the spiritual death, but also the physical death, for "He was a murdered from the beginning" (Jn 8:44). Precisely, soon after the fall, the Bible narrates the murder of Abel by his brother Cain. His final goal: to guide humankind to eternal death, the definitive stage of separation from God. The fall of man gave Satan the opportunity to become "Ruler of this world" (Jn 12:31), a reference to the rebellious world, opposed to God through sin.

A history of sin. With these wickers it cannot seem strange to us that the influence of sin has been growing among humankind and its consequences becoming many. We must remember that due to the original sin we lost the original righteousness, but it is each human being that freely adds his own sin to the history of the sin of humankind: "The Lord looks down from heaven on humankind to see if there are any wise, who seek after God. They have all gone astray, they are all alike perverse; there is no one who does good, no, not one." (Ps 14:2-3)

Wounded. All that was said above makes us understand all sufferings, injustices, and disasters we undergo and that we inflict on one another. It would not be reasonable to think that with the advance of science and technology our problems have been solved, although these may be of help to relieve some problems. It would also be naïve to think that with a simple promotion of civic and moral ethics, man would forget his evildoings although surely it would be a great relief if humankind respected the laws and increased its morality.

The root of the problems, as we have seen, is deeper, and our own strength is not sufficient to come out of the situation into which sin has lead us.

A longing. However the human nature is not completely corrupted, and the original design of God remains with us, as creatures made in his image and likeness to live in communion with him. As such we cannot stop longing for our ransom and for our salvation. The heart of the prophet Jeremiah echoes the heart of God and cries searching for remedy for the evils of the people: "For the hurt of my poor people, I am hurt, I mourn, and dismay has taken hold of me. Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then the health of my poor people has not been restored?" (Jer 8:21-22).

Questions for sharing:

  • Why there is no type of evil of which we could not think of not being related to sin?
  • What does it mean the loss of the original righteousness and holiness of man and what consequences it brings?
  • What is there in the heart of man?

 

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