The cause of sin
Author: Catholic.Net | Source: Catholic.Net
God created man in his own image and gave him a specific mission: to ensure his Earthly and eternal happiness through the fulfillment of laws that He himself gave to him along with the guidance of his straight conscience.
But, from the moment in which God created a free being, sin becomes a possibility. For this not to happen, God would have to deprive man of his freedom and reduce him to an animal state, in which man would be incapable of loving.
God gives us life, intelligence, will, freedom, conscience and the laws so that we can fulfill our mission.
God cannot be responsible for the bad use we give to what He has gifted us. Sin is, therefore, a "man’s initiative", it is a refusal to cooperate with God’s plan in a particular circumstance.
Not wanting to cooperate with the Author’s plan will inevitably cause disorder in God's work and the consequences of this disorder will revert against the man who sins and his fellowmen, as we have already seen.
It is a foul against reason, truth and the straight conscience. In the words of St. Augustine, a sin is "any word, act or desire against the law of God", he also defines it as "choosing the creatures over God".
The classical definition of sin is: "the voluntary": because it is not only a purely material act, but a formal, advised and consented action; "transgression": violation or disobedience; "of the divine law" or of any mandatory law, since they all receive their power from the eternal law.
Sin is, therefore, the greatest tragedy that can happen to man: in a few moments he has denied God and he has also denied himself, all because of a fleeting whim. It is a voluntary disobedience to the divine law. It is a breach in order.
All sin is an acquired rebellion of the free being against his Creator.
When speaking of sin, it should be mentioned that there are two elements:
Remoteness or aversion to God: it is its formal element, and properly speaking, it only occurs in mortal sin, which is the only one in which the notion of sin is performed in all its integrity.
When breaking the divine precepts, the sinner perceives a separation from God and however, carries out the sinful action. It doesn't matter if he does not have the direct intention of offending God; it is enough for the sinner to know that his action is incompatible with the divine friendship and, in spite of this, commit it voluntarily, even in sorrow and dismay of offending God. In all mortal sins there is a real offense to God by multiple reasons:
Because He is the Supreme Legislator, who has the right to impose the right use of reason by his divine law, which the sinner breaks warned and voluntarily.
Because He is man’s supreme purpose, and by sinning man adheres to a creature that somehow puts an end to this.
Because He is the highest and endless good, which is rejected by an ephemeral and created good chosen by the sinner.
Because He is governor, from whose supreme dominion man attempts to leave, He is benefactor who sees his divine gifts despised, and He is judge to which man does not fear despite knowing he cannot escape from Him.
Friendship with God and sin are like oil and water: incompatible. They cannot be both in the same heart. Therefore, all sin means detachment or aversion to God, even when who commits it does not hate God and does not intend to offend Him.
The conversion to creatures: when man sins, usually, more than wanting to offend God, he takes as good or better a created good or a person, he thinks sin is something that suits him, giving him a momentary happiness, without realizing that this apparent good, will only bring him remorse and the disappointment. In the Theological Summa, St. Thomas says: "sin is a real stupidity", committed against the right reason, because by choosing a finite good, an infinite good is lost.
Sin also injures the social well-being, the inclination towards evil that has existed since the original sin, which is aggravated by the current sins, has an influence on society. The injustices of the world are the product of man's sin. Each sin has a social dimension, because the freedom of every human being has a social orientation.
Reconciliation and Penance, John Paul II, n 16.
Every sin injures the mystical body of Christ; therefore, it affects the Church.
John Paul II said in his apostolic exhortation "it is possible to talk of sin’s communion”, as a soul that is brought down, brings down the Church and in some way the whole world too. "There is no sin, even the strictly individual, that affects exclusively who commits it". In addition to offending God, sin degrades man himself, because it changes his dignity as "owner of the creation", to "slave of the creatures". Sin causes the losing of sight of the endless purpose to which man is called and makes him put his will and intelligence in deciduous and earthly things.
But, why do we even sin when we know the truth?
There are three factors that make us very vulnerable to sin:
- The first one is the devil, who presents distorted realities as if these actions were something desirable and good, even if they are really bad.
It is a spirit that is opposed to God, with a goal opposed to God. If the God’s purpose is good, the devil’s aim is evil. It acts in accordance with his objective and seeks to glorify himself and not God.
He tempts man. It is a smart being and, therefore, he deceives man to approaching towards bad and not good.
We have to face him through sanctity, if he is the opposite of God, he will run away from anything that has to do with God (prayer, sacraments).
His life is devoted to separate us from God.
- Another factor that makes us sin is the negativity of the world and its environment: the lack of education, idleness, the bad examples, family problems, trends, social stereotypes, etc. And also its temptations: power, wealth, social situation, which are good in themselves, but taken as a purpose and not as a mean, they easily lead us to sin.
- Finally, is "the flesh": human instincts that are not subject to intelligence, vices or bad habits and simple selfishness that makes us seek only our own satisfaction.
The temptation, is only an inclination which must not be confused with sin, because in this last step occurs. It is not the same "to feel than to consent".
Feeling is a reaction of emotions to something that causes attraction or rejection. Consent is an act of the will, it is a decision. It is not a sin to feel. For sin to occur will has to intervene. Only when we decide to accept the invitation there is sin.
Temptation is an internal suggestion for man to sin. They act misleading understanding with delusions, weakening the will, making it loose in order to fall into comfort, negligence, etc., instigating the senses, primarily the imagination with thoughts of sensuality, pride, hate, etc.
This is why we should get away from all occasion of sin, i.e. situations that favor the acceptance of sin.
Can I lose heaven for getting carried away by the environment?
The environment can drag us to commit many sins of thought, word, work or omission, but our consciences, if they are well formed, will help us to distinguish if our sins are serious enough to break our friendship with God.
Mortal sins, which break the friendship with God and make us directly and immediately deserving of hell, are those that comply with three conditions:
1. Serious Matter. This is fulfilled when we go directly against the law of God, when we break with the order established by Him. It is not a deviation, but going exactly in the opposite direction to the instructions God gave us through our conscience and the law.
2. Full Knowledge. We know it is a serious matte, we know that it is a rebellion against God and still choose to do it.
Full Consent. We use our freedom and our willingness to do so. We want to make it consciously and not because something or someone forces us.
When any of the aforementioned conditions is missing, then it is a venial sin. It does not make us deserving of hell, but it weakens the friendship with God and makes us weaker to fight with the temptations of the devil, the world and the flesh.
A man who is used to venial sin is very likely to move near to the mortal sin.