Is sin the result of our weakness or our free choice?
Saying ‘no’ to sin is an ongoing struggle in the life of every Christian who takes his journey seriously. It is real to realize that signs precede the act of sinning, because we are affected by desires and passions that we do not control or that we choose not to control. For the act to be sinful, there must be a conscious process, a decision. If he is not conscious, that is, if the person does not have the ability to choose between doing or not, that does not characterize sin. In this context, there is a reality that permeates all situations of sin: concupiscence.
In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it is read that lust “derails man’s moral faculties and, without being a fault in himself, inclines man to commit sin” (CIC 2515). In other words, it is an act of reason that precedes sin, we can say that it is “planning” sin.
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In the book of Genesis, we see that Cain is upset by God’s preference for the offer made by his brother Abel. The Lord, realizing this, asks him: “Why are you angry and with a downcast face?” (Gen 4.6). God intends to change Cain’s heart, but he does not open himself to the Lord, he hides himself. Within him, there was a desire to kill his brother, and not even God warning him of the consequences, does he change his mind.
Do we sin by free choice?
How many times do we find ourselves in situations in which we clearly perceive that we are about to commit an inconsequential act that will result in sin? A man who is attracted to a married woman, for example, when he realizes that he can be reciprocated, insists, even though he knows that he should avoid it, because it pleases him in some way. There is this alert within the human being, but we often ignore it, we pass over it, we act and sin. Our conscience, the place where God lives, disturbs us in the face of these circumstances, but man does not see or pretends that he does not, and continues with his inclination towards evil.
Just look at our last sin and reflect a little. Let us see what was generated within us before sin. We knew that the situation would lead us to error, yet we continued. Do we let ourselves be seduced by weakness or do we simply sin by free choice?
Cain invites his brother to go to the field – here we see that he thought about what to do, it is a premeditated act, the first homicide reported by the Bible. This fact also wants to teach us that in us there is this attitude of planning sin and trying to deceive God; we often deceive ourselves in a conscious and premeditated attitude.
Signs that you will sin
Our reading ends with a sentence that creates an impact on us if we stop and reflect on it: “Your desire goes to you, but you must dominate it” (Gn 4,7). This phrase from God addressed to Cain reveals that the Lord knew the intention of his heart, so much so that if we read all of verse seven, where God speaks to our character, we will see that He sees his appearance, a clear sign that “sin he was lurking at the door ”(cf. Gen 4,7). Yes, the human being gives clear signs that he will sin; in these signs, we have the opportunity to fight against sin, to set our hearts on God and declare: “PHN! Not for today, for today I will not sin! ”. These signs give us a chance to choose between good and evil.
Then, we will find a key in the struggle for holiness, a weapon that God himself has given us. As we see in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CIC), lust does not characterize sin in itself, it is the interval between the stimulus we receive and our reaction. So we can say that, in the meantime, we can control ourselves and stop our reaction. Therefore, it is possible to control desire, to control lust!
Training, effort and fight
We were not created to be enslaved by our desires, and we need to convince ourselves that we cannot dominate them alone. God puts people at our side, puts readings, lectures and more at our disposal, so that we grow in self-knowledge and also in everyday life. It gives us the possibility to choose what we should do in the face of external stimuli that we receive. And a chapel, a church, is the ideal place for us to pour out all our anxieties, to stand before Jesus and ask Him for the necessary help, because the Spirit comes to help our weakness (cf. Rm 8,26). It takes training, it takes effort and struggle!