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“Ask a Priest: I am predisposed to certain types of sin… How can I resist them?”
Q: I know people say sins are by choice, which I agree to to an extent. Sometimes I honestly believe people cannot help who they are. For example, I am more predisposed to anxiety, vanity, etc. I understand how to stop doing sins in action, but feelings are difficult to control. Does the Bible ever explain this? I honestly feel I cannot help being envious of others at times. Someone in the same position might feel differently, but still that is how I feel. I know it is sinful to get very angry, envious. Why do humans feel the way they do even when it is sinful? -Y.
Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC
A: Your question touches on the reality of fallen human nature. This is the result of original sin, which we inherit from our first parents who sinned in the Garden of Eden. The Catechism in No. 390 says, “The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents.”
St. Paul in Romans 7:15 spoke honestly about sin’s grip on him: “What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate.” What St. Paul is describing is concupiscence, that is, our tendency toward sin.
Having a tendency toward sin doesn’t mean we can’t resist sin. But our fallen human nature makes it difficult. Life is a constant battle against sin. On the positive side we can pray for God’s grace for help. “God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength” (1 Corinthians 10:13). For more reading on the difference between the feeling and the sin of anger see this blog.
A few suggestions if I may. First, have faith that with God’s grace you can grow in the spiritual life and avoid many sins. Second, dedicate time each day to prayer (for more reading, see this article). You might want to include the Rosary in your schedule, a beautiful prayer in honor of the Blessed Mother.
Third, try to frequent the sacrament of confession, and receive Communion with great reverence and only in a state of grace. Also, you might try to draw up a “program of life” which could help you identify your main area of sin. With the program you would systemically try to work at eliminating certain sins from your life. Don’t worry if you don’t arrive to perfection — we are all human and will struggle all our lives. You might want to approach a priest or confessor for advice on putting together a program of life.
The important thing is, count on God’s grace — and my prayers. God bless.
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