Spiritual formation takes sin seriously. We’ve been looking at that in relation to the condition which sin produces in our lives, described in the word erithea.
But there’s a second word: hamartia. It’s the word Paul uses for sin in Romans 3:23 when he says that we have “fallen short” of the glory of God. The image is that of an archer who does not have the strength to pull the bow back far enough to send the arrow all the way to the target. Consequently, the arrow “falls short” of its intended destination.
Hamartia is a word that means “to lack.” It is consequence of erithea. Erithea weakens the heart—egotism debilitates the spirit, so that when we live from our eroded condition we “fall short” of life as God intended it to be. As Paul puts it, we “lack” the glory of God.
Erithea is the condition. Hamartia is the consequence. We “lack” the very thing God intended for us to have: the glory of God. We no longer reflect God’s glory in our character, and we fail to manifest God’s glory in our actions. Spiritual formation does not take sin lightly because it is the primal deformative reality that prevents the very formation we are talking about in this blog each week.
Redemption deals with sin on both levels, what Charles Wesley described as “the double cure”—the cure of both the condition and the consequence. We will return to this great theme later, but for now we need only to see that the result (hamartia) of egotism (erithea) is that we always come up short—we always lack the fullness of life God made us to have. St. Augustine described it as a “restless heart”—a deep sense that something is wrong and that it can only be made right by a massive invasion of grace.