In “The Concept Of Anxiety”, Kierkegaard says that pride and cowardice are practically
identical, both stemming from fear of loss. Basically, we are always in the wrong before God
because we are bad losers! Pride and cowardice underlie the decision to commit sin.
He refers to habitual sin in “The Sickness Unto Death”. Habitual sins are committed without
recourse to a decision. The decision to sin was taken long ago, forgotten, and established as
a default position. He concedes that habitual sin is perhaps less reprehensible than
“deliberate” sin, but the sin will be repeated in similar situations in the future. Most of the guilt
inheres in the original decision to sin, even though it may have been forgotten.
God suspends the Ethical to allow the habitual sinner to approach Him, and it is at this point
that the sinner is liable to reject God’s forgiveness. This is because accepting God’s
forgiveness entails revisiting the original decision underlying the sin.
Revisiting one’s original sin requires great courage, which is normally beyond the resources
of the habitual sinner. Christ died so that we need no longer be afraid to approach Him, but
even this assurance is normally rejected. In accepting God’s forgiveness, we are admitting
that we are habitual sinners, and afraid to review our original decision. We are brought face
to face with our original pride and cowardice.