In a person’s spiritual life, sin has been given such significance with constant reminders to avoid sin at all cost. What actually happens when we commit sin and what happens to the affected person – the one to whom we commit sin against?
Suppose someone gave me a slap for whatever reason – the ideal scenario would be a parent doing this to a child. The slap causes immediate physical pain which will disappear after some time but we will be hurt inside somewhere. This is what is classified as “inner wounds” which has become familiar after the Charismatic Renewal started.
Let us assume a man gets drunk every day comes home and thrashes his wife and kids. If this continues for some time everyone in the family will try to avoid him as he returns home. Some may even hide from his presence. What causes such behaviour? It is the fear of that person. In psychiatric terms this is classified as “insecurity”. This is the second impact of sin on others.
If people within close human circles like family for example, are constantly facing negative behaviour from someone, they will develop the feeling they are not loved, wanted by the person who displays negative nature. This is called “rejection”. If they are subject to same treatment over an extended period of time, then they will develop the feeling ‘nobody loved me, I managed to survive, today I have a decent job and income, I can live without anybody else in this world and others also can survive in the same manner. This is how the world is’. This is a higher degree of rejection.
Scripture beautifully presents the life of Joseph, son of Jacob (Israel). Scripture is written thus: “Israel loved Joseph best of all his sons, for he was the child of his old age; and he had made for him a long ornamented tunic. When his brothers saw that their father loved him best of all his brothers, they hated him so much that they could not say a kind word to him” (Gen. 37:3-4).
The greatest commandment is to ‘love one another’ (Jn. 15:12). So what is the greatest sin? Not loving others, in other words denying love. In the above Scripture passage we find that Israel loved Joseph ‘best’ which means he loved his other sons less. What was the impact of this? The other sons developed hatred towards Joseph. This means when love is denied the opposite quality of love viz. hatred gets into us. As hatred developed in Joseph’s brothers, they were unable to speak to him in a pleasant way. In short the “Fruit of the Holy Spirit” started diminishing in them especially gentleness, kindness, goodness. So, what is the consequence of denial of love? Negative nature i.e. sinful nature develops within us when love is denied – when someone sins against us.
So the consequence of sin on others is 1. Inner Wounds, 2. Insecurity, 3. Rejection, and 4. Development of Sinful Nature. This is what happens to a person when someone sins against him/her.
Then what happens to the person who commits sin? He/she gets into bondage which is clearly mentioned in Deuteronomy 28: verse 13 onwards. Blessings will elude us. Our physical and psychological faculties will be affected. Not only that this condition will be passed on to subsequent generations and it gets worse as the generations pass until someone is called by God to be a sacrificial lamb for the entire family tree that is affected (Rom. 8:29). Ironically this understanding is missing from a sizeable percentage of the Christians including a major portion of us Catholics.
Since the Charismatic Renewal started, most people have received a fair understanding of inner wounds so it will not be elaborated here. However the other topics would be explained. Below is given an explanation of 1 Insecurity, 2 Rejection, and 3. Negative (sinful) Nature that will come into us when we commit sin to others and someone else commits sin towards us and we do not reconcile the same day. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil (Eph. 4:26 – 27).
So what happens when we are angry and commits sin and do not reconcile and the sun goes down? The devil gets a place in our soul and he start manifesting himself and becomes stronger and stronger as each day passes without reconciliation. His presence will be visible in our behaviour, attitude, character, speech, tone of voice, life-style, body language and even in our perception.
Ironically this is the condition of most Christians; even of devout Catholics who live a very pious life. The deep rooted negative nature within us does not seem to disappear. Many will wear a mask of piety. But when pushed to the wall we can see the real nature coming out. We cannot love our enemy. Our enemies will remain our enemies although outwardly there will be a truce. We cannot give the widow’s pennies. We will pride ourselves by giving some petty cash, compared to what we spend on ourselves and on our extravagance.
Why this happens? It is because when reconciliation does not happen and days months and years pass, it will be necessary to backtrack on a day by day basis or else our nature will not change. (“There you will stay till the last penny is paid” Mt.5:26). We will have to forgive those who sinned against us on a day by day basis and ask the Lord to wash away in His holy blood all the inner wounds, insecurity, rejection and sinful nature that came into us due to other’s sin. Also seek forgiveness for our sins and ask the Lord to wash away all the bondage that came into us. It is only by doing this with each person concerned and backtracking on a daily basis, will our nature change (1 Jn. 1:7). Then we can love our enemy and give the widow’s pennies.
As we progress in this we find the fruit, gifts and charisms of the Holy Spirit growing in us and our hearts getting closer to the kingdom of God which is divinity. This is a slow and time consuming process taking – sometimes years depending on one’s age. But it is possible with God’s grace.
Alexis T.E. Papali