ABOUT THE ROOT OF ALL SINS – Иверский Орский женский монастырь



Sermon before the Common Confession, St. John of Kronstadt Cathedral, Gai



The root of all sins, the nature of any sin, if you look for the essence of it – is selfishness. Selfishness is the opposite of love. So, if God is Love, selfishness is the opposite side, the side of satan. And all of us suffer, every person to some extent, all of us suffer from this disease of selfishness.  

What did Adam and Eve do in paradise? Ate an apple or what? They let selfishness prevail over love. God asked them, – God who was their Father, Who loved them, Who protected them from evil, diseases, and troubles, – He asked them simply, as a Father,  “Please, do not eat this.” Well, what was the problem there: to eat or not to eat. They were not hungry I guess. But really, were they? Why would they not just obey? There was nothing crucial about it. What was crucial?  The preference for selfishness over the beloved Father was the crucial point. To top it off, who did they prefer, look, God is the most lightful being on earth; and a serpent came – the vilest one.  They do not believe God but do believe the serpent.   They do not listen to God who asks them in a clear and simple way, as a Father, “Do not eat, please.” They do not listen to Him. But they do to this serpent which whispers them to their ears, “Eat. Do not believe Him. God told you that you would die. Do not believe Him.” Look, do they prefer their Father to this vile serpent, actually they prefer this vile serpent to their Father. 


Humans let selfish action happen. So that there are catastrophes, misconceptions from global to personal ones, misunderstandings between close people.  Get down at the bottom of troubles and you will find selfishness, which is the root of any problem. No one wants to cede, no one wants to humble themselves. I. I, I – “I” is everywhere. This is our main disease. Selfishness. This is the root of conflicts and global wars in the world. Millions of people die. Selfishness is a starting point here. Preference yourself to everything. This selfish act ends up with hypocrisy, when we start to blame God at the end. That is what Adam and Eve did. Well, they trespassed and their Father told them, “You trespassed, yes, I can see that. I can see that you broke commandment,” – they should have repented of it saying, “Forgive us.” But they insincerely started to find excuses. Adam blamed Eve, “You gave me this woman, so she taught me to do so, it was not my fault.” Eve blamed the serpent, “This was the serpent, You let it come and it seduced us.” Finally they blamed God, “You gave me Eve and You created the serpent. You could see this situation, couldn’t You? Where were You, God, at this time?” Even having trespassed, a human can not admit guilt and that is why one can not be healed. They committed a mortal sin. And anyway they try to find excuses to justify this sin, find someone else to blame so that it was not me. 

A starting point of a repentance is the act of admitting your guilt. Yes, it was me, who else? It was my fault. It was all my fault. All hardships of my life were my fault. I go to church regularly but nothing is happening with me. Whose fault is it? Is it God’s fault? It is my fault.


When Sophrony Sakharov was a young man, his heart was so ardent but his brain could not follow it. So when he was in the Second World War he saw a lot of problems and sorrow. Out of a sudden he revolted against God, “God, my heart is in pain for this suffering world but where are You?”  Why me, a little man, can feel the pain of this world but where are You now?” And God came, being hung on the Cross, his hands and legs were in blood, his heart pierced, and He said, “I am here. Look where I am. I am here both in wartime and in peacetime.  In the times of well-being when people self-indulge a lot, I am here, and in times of war, and in times of peace. I am here always.” Then He told him, “Was it you who was crucified? You just sit here feeling blue. You can not even fight with your own sin from penance to penance but you argue about world issues and fairness of world creation. But look at yourself sincerely. You can not even change anything inside of you.”


Sometimes modern people argue about wrong things in our country, world but sometimes I want to say, “But is everything ok with your family? Is everything ok inside of you? Is it really all great and right there?” This is the most deceitful situation. In order to cover your sin, to neutralize it somehow you switch to something global.

We are all infected with a sin, there is no even one healthy cell. And the root of all sins is selfishness, when you prefer yourself to the whole world. I am the center of the universe. But God should be the center of the universe, then through Him there should be your neighbor. But in our case “I” is the centre of the universe. 

One more thing, there is one important detail when we talk about sins. Small sins, big ones… Could you tell me please, when a husband cheated his wife one time or one hundred times, is there any difference here? No difference, he is a traitor to the full.  You betrayed your motherland one time or one hundred times so you are a traitor to the full, there is no difference in quantity. But then again, satan tries to alter our understanding: well, these are just little things. My delightful neighbors, these little things build our life globally. Our life is like a chain made of these little things. And every detail has its meaning. Sometimes we can relax, it seems to us that it is just a little thing. But if there are one hundred little things, it is one hundred times more. And how many of these little things we do, not only a hundred but thousands, millions of them. This is already tremendous weight, which can bear down heavily upon us and kill us in the end. 

Every sin is something that, the root of a sin is not what you have done, but that you have betrayed the Lord again. He asks you again, “Please, do not do that,” but you would do it. This is the essence of a sin. An extent of filth or extremity of a sin is not even so important here but this esse. You were asked, the Lord asked yo,u “Do not do this,” but you did it out of spite, again. You do it even when you really have some strength not to do it. I would understand it if it was really hard to fight a sin, but these little things. Well, in this case with little things we can win, can’t we? So we betray God over every little thing. It would be a different matter if you were severely broken once. We say “little thing” so it means it is something small, and when fighting with it it is easier to win. So, win this little thing and another one also.

The longer you do not cure disease, the deeper it goes. Blood spreads it all over your body, delivers it to every cell. In the beginning it was only one body organ infected but later this disease will spread all over the body as cancer does. If cancer is not treated, its metastases will spread all over the body. The most terrifying situation is when a patient goes on the rampage. A doctor says, “Your situation is quite serious. If you do not summon up, you will die in half a year.” But the patient is just grinning at his face saying, “Comme on, what can you see in this scan?  I feel well today.” This behavior will kill our patient not in half of a year but even earlier. The one who has sense will summon up and start a treatment course. But the one who does not accept a disease, can not realize this contamination by a sin will die very soon.

Symeon the New Theologian says, “There are many people on the earth who live automatically, physiologically but their soul is already dead.” Once I came to wash the corpse of my acquaintance who died five minutes ago from cancer. I came, we washed him, put on clothes, turned him and, he died five minutes ago, and saw the corruption of the body, already. Five minutes ago he was alive but this corruption process was already on for days, months, he was sphacelated inside. 

So it seems to us, it seems that we are alive but the sphacelating process is already on. Someone can call it the process of aging. I would rather say that this dying process is inside of all of us, the dying process is on even in our children. It is on, it is on. And this process was triggered by a sin, nothing else, no physiology, but by a sin. It was provoked by a sin.  

Forgive me, please. Ok, who is going to take Communion?

Our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, in the abundance and riches of His loving-kindness, forgives these children. I am an unworthy priest, under the power vested in me, absolve you of all of your sins always, now, and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.