Sin and Forgiveness

By The Rev. Dr. Grant S. Carey, D.D., Canon Residentiary

Asked recently if Episcopalians really take sin seriously, I quoted   the words in the Prayer Book: “If we say that we have no sin, we  deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us …” (I John 1:8).

Saint Paul perceived sin to be contrary to what we know is right, and even though we are aware that what we do is wrong and hurtful, we do it anyway! (See: Romans, Chapter 7).

In the story of Adam and Eve, man and woman, (you and I) were told by God that they must not eat of the fruit . . . but they ate it anyway.

The Ten Commandments provide an outline for life-affirming behavior within community.  Stealing, lying, cheating, unfaithfulness, and murder are sinful because they lead to brokenness and ultimately, to the death of faithfulness, trust  and love. The effect of this involves each one of us.

The 17th century poet and priest, John Donne, had it right when he observed: “No man is an island, entire of itself, every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main …” (Devotions, XII).

Episcopalians do take sin seriously … as well as forgiveness and new life. We know that forgiveness is a bridge to a new relationship with God and with one another, and that penitence, absolution and amendment of life are essential if healing is to take place in our lives and in the life of the world.

The Good News of Easter is that, while none of us is free from sin, Jesus, through his Community of Faith, offers to each one of us the free gift of grace and the opportunity to begin again.

You may contact Canon Carey by email:


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