What is Sin?


I have been having a discussion concerning what should be a basic question; however the answer eludes us. One position, following the Wesleyan tradition, says that sin is a “willful transgression of the known will of God”, while another is more Calvinistic position is a “deviation from a standard of perfection.”

What is the Orthodox definition of sin?


In Greek—the language in which the New Testament was written—the word for “sin” is “amartia,” which literally means “to miss the mark.” For Christians, the “mark” for which we strive is to live in communion with God, basing our lives and actions on the life and actions of Jesus Christ; hence, when we “miss this mark” we sin.

The Church Fathers further acknowledge that sin is a personal power or force that has usurped the government of the world as created by God and has tainted creation after the Fall of Adam. Jesus Christ took on our nature and entered into the world in order to deliver mankind, through His death and resurrection, from this force and its consequences, the chief of which is death.

Orthodox Christians believe that sin may be voluntary or involuntary and conscious or unconscious and that sin is always personal in nature, leaving each person to account for what he or she has done or left undone.