Do Not Judge Yourself

Archpriest Igor Fomin answers the question: “How can an inveterate sinner obtain salvation?”
Archpriest Igor Fomin | 12 August 2019

To begin with, it is very important when a person, who cannot get rid of some recurring sin, clearly understands that it is a sin and takes the problem very seriously. It is crucial to call sin a sin regardless of whether it occurs often or not, whether it is repeated or not, whether it seems small or big to us: it is important to call sin a sin. As soon as we stop doing it, as soon as the search for an excuse for a passion begins, something that can also be found in medicine will happen. It is much easier to help a person, who is aware of their dependence on alcohol and is afraid to become an alcoholic and talks about it, than the one, who does not admit their alcoholism both to themselves and to others. Then again, a person, who has some psychological issues, fears, and worries, but believes that he/she is perfectly normal and refuses psychologist or psychiatrist’s help, may end up in a terrible impasse with their problems and suffer as a person. It is crucial to acknowledge what is happening to you: and in this sense it is the first victory, when a person understands a sin as a sin and does not surrender to it, even though it constantly accompanies them.

What should you do if you understand it? Do not stop only on mental realization. Look for a way to get rid of a sin more fearlessly. And here, perhaps, we will need to change our lifestyle. Suppose, if you realize that some person is dear to you, they are your best friend, but your communication goes along with libations all the time, then, perhaps, you need to distance yourself from them despite your wonderful relationship. Or, for example, if you have a passion related to career worries, you may need to decide and change jobs. Mind you, I am talking about some external life circumstances. But in fact, Orthodoxy is not built on a kind of subtle spirituality and denial of all the material and fleshly. Everything is essential in our faith, and how we act on the external level, how we behave is the most important aspect of the spiritual life. Therefore, pay attention to what can be changed in your daily life, to whether it is possible to get away from your sin in some way: in the daily routine, in the work’s rhythm or its nature, in relationships, etc.

And finally, there is the most important thing that cannot happen in any case. It is despondency and self-judgement. Unfortunately, our sins, whether small or big, terrible or outwardly barely noticeable, draw us into a state of despondency, that is why we do nothing with our so-called “habitual” sin. We condemn ourselves on behalf of Christ, on behalf of God, on behalf of the Church in advance, and believe that God would not accept us as such, that with us being as such we are simply no one in His eyes, that we have no right to stand before Him. Although this is our own temptation, this is the distrust of God, Who seeks to offer us His hand, seeks to save us anytime and anywhere and Who is always there in the most difficult circumstances. Thus, despondency deprives us of strength and drives us away from Christ at the very moment when we need His help the most.

So, we should rationally understand what is happening to us, we should call sin a sin, critically evaluate our actions, but we have no right to judge ourselves. This leads me to the most crucial thing that I would like to say. Whether you are haunted by this or that sin, whether there are new reasons for being upset, whether you find new reasons to think about your soul: remember that there is a cure in the fight against sin. This cure is the Holy Communion that we receive in the church. No sin can be conquered without Christ, without connection to Him. In the church it happens in the Sacrament of Eucharist. Yes, when being aware of our unworthiness, when feeling the perniciousness of our situation, we should turn to our only Savior: our Lord Jesus Christ, Who fully reveals Himself to us, saves us and frees us in the Sacrament of Eucharist, when we unite with Him in Communion with all our being, soul, and body. We should turn to the Sacraments of the Church with perseverance, as to the only salvation, without any despondency, with trust in God.

Translated by Julia Frolova

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