Patriarch Kirill on the Fall
Before the beginning of human history, the fall into sin occurred in the spiritual world. Some of the rational and free spiritual beings created by God, badly used their freedom: moved away from their Creator and became the bearer of evil, making it the source for the entire future history of the Universe. These spirits are called "dark forces." Satan, devil, demons - these are their names.
What is the nature of evil? According to the teachings of the fathers of the Church, evil is not an entity in itself. “Evil has neither a special entity nor a kingdom. It is not without beginning, not original, not created by God, ”emphasizes St. Gregory of Nyssa. Everything created by God and everything that exists in nature is good and beautiful. Evil is a certain distortion of the original intention of the Creator — a distortion caused by the free will of the devil and demons who voluntarily alienate themselves from God. Just as darkness arises as one moves away from a source of light, evil also arises as one moves away from God. Infinite separation from God is the kingdom of evilthe devilish world, for in this infinite remoteness, of God’s deprivation by their own free will, angels began to dwell, wanting to oppose themselves to God and through that turned into demons.
The Bible contains a story about how this power of darkness influenced the consciousness of the first people. Under the image of the serpent, tempting Adam and Eve, hides the devil, who teaches them to do something contrary to the will of God and the Creator's plan for people. The serpent inspires Eve to taste the fruit of the forbidden tree, and Eve inclines her husband to this.
What are the motives of this act? In order to force people to disobey God, the devil had to offer them a sufficiently convincing motivation, to put forward some very serious reason. And such a reason was found. The serpent inspires his wife: God therefore forbids you to eat from this tree, that, having tasted, you will know good and evil and "you will be like gods." That is, it is necessary only to taste of this tree - and you will be made like God.
But what is surprising: and not the same, in fact, the Lord also called man, creating him in His image and likeness? After all, we have already said that the assimilation of creation to the Creator is the goal that God has set for man. Man is called to develop all his inner strength in order to become like God, to become like Him.At first glance, the goal is the same - and the devil says: “You will be like gods” (Gen. 3: 5), and God says: “Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5: 48). Meanwhile, there is a difference, and a fundamental one. God calls man to achieve this goal through development and self-improvement. Such improvement requires tremendous exertion, a life feat. And God helps a person on this path: gives him His grace, His energy, shares with him the gift of His Divine life. Whereas the devil proposes a path that does not require any effort on the part of man and is not dependent on the will of God. For to eat from the fruit means to resort to certain forces and means acting magically, besides God, and not proceeding from Him. In this case, it is implied that a person will no longer need God, for he himself will take His place.
Original sin is the renunciation of man of God, disobedience to God, that is, the conscious rejection of the plan that the Lord has about the world and man, the rejection of a certain order of life by God, the crime of God's law.
What did this crime lead to? The Bible tells the story of what happened to the first people after they had tasted the forbidden fruit:
“And the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked, and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons” (Gen. 3: 7).
God told Adam: “Because you listened to the voice of your wife and ate from the tree, about which I commanded you, saying: Do not eat from him, the earth is cursed for you; with grief you will eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles she grows to you; and you will eat the grass of the field; You shall eat bread in the sweat of your face, till you return to the ground from which you were taken, for dust you and to dust come back ...
And the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. And he drove out Adam, and set in the east by the garden of Eden the Cherubim and the fiery sword that turned to guard the way to the tree of life ”(Gen. 3: 17-19, 23-24).
What does the image of expelling man from paradise encompass? Man wanted to become like God, and to achieve this on his own - without God. And God, who made man free, accepts his free choice and gives man himself. From now on, man is autonomous, he lives relying solely on his own strength, deprived of the gift of Divine life, Divine energy, Divine grace, and based on it alone can harmoniously improve himself in an effort to become like God.From now on, man is left to himself - there is a tragic gap between God and man, deprived of grace and the divine gift of eternal life. But this gap is made not only in the relationship between God and man, but also in the relationship between man and his surrounding nature.
The harmony that reigned in the Garden of Eden is now broken: man not only cultivates and decorates this world, being a co-worker of God in the matter of creation and improvement, but opposes the hostile nature, the cursed earth, which has turned its thorns and thistles towards it. From now on, the harmony that connected man with nature has been lost, and in order to ensure his physical existence, he is forced to earn food by cultivating the earth, confronting the world and the dangers lurking in it.
There was a separation of another order: not only between man and God, not only between man and nature, but also within the human person itself. Having tasted the forbidden fruit, the first people were ashamed: they saw that they were naked, and, having sewn fig clothes, began to cover their nakedness.
What is shame? This is the reaction of moral feeling to inner discord, to a certain disturbance of the life order. Before the fall of such people did not know. For their nature was filled with inner harmony, suggesting the power of the spiritual principle over the beginning instinctive. This harmony broke up - and people, feeling an inner discord in the soul, felt shame.
Such were the consequences of the Fall. There were no visible changes in human nature - the same hands and feet, the same head, the same mental abilities; The world around us has not changed either - the same trees, animals and stones, the same sky and the same stars, the moon and the sun. But the feeling of the symmetry of the universe was gone: sin broke the harmony of being, and man was forced to fight for survival in the world around him. He began to give all his strength to the satisfaction of his physical needs, for food and clothing now had to be obtained. From now on, he devoted his abilities to the conquest of a dangerous and opposing nature.
On this path a person has achieved a lot. Through the development of technology and science, the accumulation of skills and knowledge in the most diverse areas of its activities, he has truly become a powerful master of nature.So at some point in history, it seemed to people that they had reached the pinnacle of development, that their power was already such that it allowed them to continue to dispense with God. At the peak of this naively presumptuous triumphalism, an atheistic idea flourished: man - it sounds proud! A man can do anything! Man is able to rule himself and the world without God! However, it is very likely that it was for people living in the 21st century to understand what their fathers and grandfathers, admiring the success of scientific development, worshiping the idea of technological progress and believing in the infinite and unlimited human capabilities, could not comprehend.
Today, to a greater extent than yesterday, many of the dangerous consequences of the development of human civilization are visible. The image of a modern city with crashing cars, with polluted air, with rushing people, with a lot of social problems: crime and drug addiction, social inequality, bodily and spiritual diseases, and an incalculable number of things that tear the human soul - appears as a visible symbol of human sinfulness civilization.
Is this image an expression of the integrity of the human person and the harmonious relationship of a person with the outside world? Fortunately, there are still enough places on earthnot as advanced civilization as the huge modern metropolises. And in communion with nature, in contemplating its eternal beauty, it is not so difficult for people of this century to understand that without God, without His energy and grace, a person is not able to either find the only true life path or follow this path.
Patriarch of Moscow and All RussiaCyril (Gundyaev).From the book "The Shepherd's Word"