Sin: Consenting to Temptation

Photo: A.Pospelov / Pravoslavie.ru Photo: A.Pospelov / Pravoslavie.ru
    

Many wonder what it is they should confess when they come to the sacrament of repentance. Some are not clear about the difference between a sin and a mistake, or between sin and bad judgment. The monk Evagrius Ponticus writing in the 4th Century gives us some clarification. Many “warped” thoughts can run through our minds, some of them disgusting, some persistent and pernicious, some of them tempting. Evagrius notes that we don’t always have control over what thoughts enter into our heads, or how we react to various stimuli from the world around us. What we have control over is how we deal with those thoughts. It is only the things that we can control that can actually turn into sin. When we know something is wrong and do it, we are committing sin. Thoughts and feelings in and of themselves are not necessarily sinful even though we might recognize them as being bad. We may have no control over them. Our control begins with what we decide to do about the thoughts or feelings that enter into our minds.

Whether or not all these thoughts disturb the soul does not depend upon us. However, whether they linger or do not linger, arouse our passions or not, that depends on us. What turns these “thoughts” into passions and then into sins is the voluntary consent of the human being, who gives way to evil within himself. Temptation in a monk is a thought that arises through the passionate part of the soul (that is, anger and desire) and darkens the intellect. A sin for a monk is the [free] consent [of the will] to the forbidden pleasure of the thought. . .

In order to prevent consent we need the virtues, and, to be precise, above all we need these two, which keep a tight rein on the passionate part of the soul: love as a bridle for anger, and self-control as a rein on desire. If both of these rule in the soul, the sensory impressions will not trigger the passions. (Gabriel Bunge, Despondency: The Spiritual Teaching of Evagrius Ponticus on Acedia, Kindle Loc. 748-58, 765-68)

In confession we admit to those things we chose to do which we know are wrong, even if we feel we had little choice but to act in a particular way in a given situation. Sin lies in knowing that one is doing is wrong or evil, but doing it anyway. The cure for the soul, what we need to cultivate as a result of going to confession, according to Evagrius is love and self-control. Fasting, self-denial, asceticism can be a way to learn self-control. But that is not enough to follow Christ. To be a Christian is to learn and study the Lord Jesus Christ’s love for us, and then to imitate Him.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  (John 13:34-35)

Fr. Ted's Blog

Fr. Ted Bobosh

10/13/2017

See also
Preparing for Confession Preparing for Confession Preparing for Confession Preparing for Confession
St. John of Kronstadt, Metropolitan Innocent of Moscow
Now tell me: Is Confession profitable or needful? Certainly it is profitable and even essential; because, just as it is impossible to cleanse a vessel without ridding it of all uncleanness, so it is impossible to purge your soul of sins without confession.
Conquered by the Mercy of God Conquered by the Mercy of God
Archpriest Artemy Vladimirov
Conquered by the Mercy of God Conquered by the Mercy of God
A Discourse on the Mystery of Repentance and Confession
Archpriest Artemy Vladimirov
Not only in the minute of confession of sins and receiving of forgiveness are we called to carry out the commandment of Christ: Repent ye and believe the Gospel; but before and after Confession the Christian is called to abide in repentance. Repentance is the air that pervades the soul; it is the light that allows us to see the path before us. Repentance is the aspiration to refrain from your confessed sins. It is a battle with sinister desires and passions that are no-nos, and which raise up their serpentine heads in the depths of our heart.
What Makes a Priest Rejoice at Confession What Makes a Priest Rejoice at Confession
Igumen Nektary (Morozov)
What Makes a Priest Rejoice at Confession What Makes a Priest Rejoice at Confession
Igumen Nektary (Morozov)
A person can repent of the most terrible sins, the most barbaric evil-doing; his tale may be bitter and worthy of tears. But if an inner change occurs, that very “metanoia”, that is, a change of mind, or more precisely, of the entire human personality, there is no feeling of weariness.
Confession — not a novel but a battle Confession — not a novel but a battle
Archpriest Valerian Krechetov
Confession — not a novel but a battle Confession — not a novel but a battle
Archpriest Valerian Krechetov
“How should I tell the priest about my sins? Is a feeling of repentance indispensable during confession? After confession, should one expect a feeling of spiritual relief, or lightness of soul? These beginners’ questions often remain troublesome even for very experienced parishioners.
A Guide to Confession A Guide to Confession A Guide to Confession A Guide to Confession
Genuine Repentance & Confession heals and makes the immortal soul holy. This is the correct way to prepare for Holy Communion.
Comments
Anthony 10/13/2017 9:04 pm
To be a Christian is to learn and study the Lord Jesus Christ’s love for us, and then to imitate Him. How? How do you study and learn Christ's love? Surely love is experience. We can be ''nice'' and ''kind'' and ''polite'' and think we have ''love'' but instead have self gratifying egotism. We can quote from scriptures like the all holy one of Constantinople does ''wouldn't it be good for all the brethren to dwell in harmony'' and think we have ''love'', but instead blaspheme God through heresy and lies. Love is an experience, and an experience in Truth that you cannot learn. Otherwise it is meaningless godless hypocrisy.
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