Our sinful nature should not discourage us, since God has promised to help us

October 11, 2021 • 5 min

From The Sinner’s Guide, page 275

But, to study the subject more in detail, what is the cause of the difficulty you find in practising virtue? You say it is the evil inclinations of your heart, as well as the perpetual conflict between the spirit and the flesh, which has been conceived in sin.

But why should you be dismayed, when you have the infallible promise of God that He will take away these corrupt sources of sin, and, giving you a new heart, will establish you in strength and courage to conquer all your enemies?

“I will give them,” He says, “a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in their bowels; and I will take away the stony heart out of their flesh, and I will give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My commandments, and keep My judgments and do them, and that they may be My people, and I may be their God.” [Ezech. xi. 19, 20.]

What, then, can arrest you in the path of virtue? Do you fear that the promise will not be fulfilled, or that with the assistance of God’s grace you will not be able to keep His law? Your doubts are blasphemous; for, in the first instance, you question the truth of God’s words, and, in the second, you represent Him as unable to fulfil what He promises, since you think Him capable of offering you succor insufficient for your needs.

No, doubt not, but be assured that in addition to all this He will give you the necessary strength to overcome the passions which torment you. This is one of the principal benefits purchased for us by the blood of our Saviour, one of the most precious fruits of the tree of life.

“Our old man is crucified with Jesus Christ, that the body of sin may be destroyed, and that we may serve sin no longer.” [Rom. vi. 6.] By the “old man” and “the body of sin” the Apostle designates our sensual appetite with its evil inclinations. He tells us that it was crucified with Jesus Christ, because the sacrifice of the cross obtained for us grace and strength to overcome it.

This is the victory which God promises us by Isaias, who says: “Fear not, for I am with thee; turn not aside, for I am thy God; I have strengthened thee, and have helped thee, and the right hand of my Just One—Jesus Christ—hath upheld thee. Behold all that fight against thee shall be confounded and ashamed; they shall be as nothing, and the men shall perish that strive against thee. Thou shalt seek them, and shalt not find the men that resist thee. They shall be as nothing, and the men that war against thee shall be as a thing consumed. For I am the Lord thy God, who take thee by the hand and say to thee: Fear not, for I have helped thee.” [Isaias xli. 10-14.]

With such assistance who will yield to discouragement? Who will be daunted by fear of his evil inclinations, over which grace obtains such a glorious victory?

You will urge, perhaps, that the just are not without their secret failings, which, as Job says [Job xvi. 9.], bear witness against them.

To this I reply, in the words of Isaias, that “they shall be as if they never had been.” [Isaias xli. 12.] If they remain it is only to exercise our virtue, not to overcome us; to stimulate us, not to master us; to serve as an occasion of merit, not of sin; for our triumph, not for our downfall; in a word, to try us, to humble us, to make us acknowledge our own weakness and render to God the glory and thanksgiving which are due Him.

They are a source of real profit to us. For as wild animals when domesticated can be made most serviceable to man, so our passions, when moderated and controlled, aid us in the practice of virtue.

“If God be for us, who is against us?” [Rom. viii. 31.] “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the protector of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? If armies in camp should stand together against me, my heart shall not fear. If a battle should rise up against me, in this will I be confident.” [P. xxvi. 1, 2, 3, 4.]

Surely, my dear Christian, if such promises do not encourage you to serve God your cowardice is very great. If you have no confidence in them your faith is very weak. God assures you that He will give you a new spirit, that He will change your heart of stone into a heart of flesh, that He will mortify your passions to such a degree that you will not know yourself. You will seek in vain for the evil inclinations which warred against you; they will be as a thing consumed, for He will weaken all their forces.

What more can you desire? Have, then, a lively faith and firm hope, and cast yourself into the arms of God.

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