Thursday, August 16, 2007

Lapses into Sin

1. When we have spent many years fighting our evil inclinations, praying, and forming resolutions, it saddens us when we fall into grave sin once again. A lapse like this can be very discouraging and can make us feel that it is impossible to resist temptation. We may even feel that we are not destined by God to enjoy everlasting happiness. This is a very dangerous temptation which could lead us into ruin. It is part of the tactics of the devil to tempt us to sin and, when we have fallen, to persuade us that our fall was unavoidable and that we may as well resign ourselves to sinning because we are predestined to hell.

Predestination is a gigantic theological problem which has tormented the minds and consciences of many. It is a difficult question, but in practice it can be answered in a few words. It is certain that God...wishes us all to be saved (I Tim. 2:4). It is certain that God became man and shed His precious blood for our salvation. How then could we be predestined to hell? How could we be denied the graces necessary for salvation? Our constant falls do not indicate that God has abandoned us, but show that we have abandoned Him. If we sincerely do everything of which we are capable, God will not deny us His assistance.

2. Away, then, with all thoughts of discouragement. Let us ask humbly for forgiveness every time we fall, for God understands our weakness. Then let us begin again with confidence in God's grace.

But why, we may ask, does God permit us to fall time and time again without giving us the grace to resist? In such a case we must accept the mystery of God's dealings with us. God often allows us to fall in order to humble us and to make us realise that we are powerless without Him. Pride is often the cause of our sins, and our pride must be curbed. God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (Cf. James 4:6). Instead of giving in to discouragement, therefore, we should acknowledge our own weakness and pray again to God to help us.

3. There are other explanations for our repeated lapses into sin. Sometimes we do not resist temptation immediately and it takes root in our souls. We may neglect to pray for God's assistance. We may have neglected to avoid the occasions of sin and have played about with danger. We may not be sufficiently determined to make any sacrifice rather than commit sin.

Let us consider our lapses and we shall discover that they can be explained in one of these ways. There is no need to lose confidence in God, therefore. Rather should we renew our good resolutions and reinforce them by constant prayer. Nobody who prays continually can keep falling into sin.