Let no one, by appealing to the weight and multitude of his sins, say that he is unworthy of the monastic vow, and for love of pleasure disparage himself, excusing himself with excuses in his sins. Where there is much corruption, considerable treatment is needed to draw out all the impurity. The healthy do not go to a hospital. (Step 1:19)

Here we see a struggle that is very common for those of us living the Christian life: because of our ‘addiction’ to sin, we find ourselves making excuses in order to indulge in the pleasures we desire. How many times have we thought something like, “well, I’m a sinner anyway, this one more time won’t matter.” When we move St. John’s point out of the monastic context [where it is obviously incredibly valuable] and into our lives in the world, his words pierce to the heart. As he says, the sick are those in need of the hospital. We are sick in our sin; our sins keep us from being truly human as God has created us to be. The human person does not function properly on any level because of the abundance of sin. Everything in the Church calls us to struggle unrelentingly against our sin – every time we turn from even the smallest sin, a great victory is won. Elder Joseph the Hesychast has a wonderful quote about this that we can keep in mind – “”In whatever battle a person has been defeated once—even if a hundred years pass—as soon as he encounters that same temptation that had defeated him, he is overpowered once again…in every battle with the enemy, you must emerge victorious. Either die in the struggle, or win with God. There is no other road.” Let us then struggle to make no excuses for our sins, and to give all in the quest for Godliness that we possibly have.

Scripture verse for thought today – “Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound…what shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid! How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Romans 5:20, 6:1-6:2, and if you have time, all of Romans 6 speaks beautifully on this struggle against sin and for righteousness)

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