Sin is always a choice to live according to my own will rather than the will of God. It is a disordered human choice made in favor of self and in distrust of God.
By Deacon Frederick Bartels
25 June, 2017
In this Sunday’s gospel (Mt 10:26-33), Jesus speaks to the Twelve about what should be the real object of their fear. “Fear no one,” the Savior insists, but the “one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.” It is mortal sin we should fear, which causes spiritual death and eternal loss of the soul, and the one who encourages this death in us by temptation to reject the love of God in favor of love of self. The enemy is the Father of Lies; he and those who cooperate with his malicious will seek our ruin, remain a danger to our faith and threaten the attainment of eternal life.
Although they desire to lead us from light into darkness, they have no real power over us; ultimately, the choice of life or death always remains ours to make:
I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice, and cleaving to him; for that means life to you and length of days, that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them. (Deuteronomy 30: 19-20)
The real danger is intentional cooperation with evil, in turning one’s back on God by living a life opposed to his commandments and divine gifts of love. Sin is always a choice to live according to my own will rather than the will of God. In sinning, I deny my dependence on God and assert my own independence, which is a lie in the face of the reality of my creaturely status as created by the hands of the Creator. I exist for one reason alone: God has made me. If I turn inward on myself in selfishness, spurning God and his commandments, then I intentionally live a life in denial of Christ in whose image I am created (cf. Jn 1:2-4). In doing so, I stand not with the Redeemer of humankind but apart from him, alienated from his love.
Christ makes this demand on us: to live our lives for him and to confess our love of him before others: “But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father” (Mt 10:33).
The good news is that Christ freely offers his love, assistance, and divine protection to those who pledge their lives to him in faith. Take courage, then, and “Do not be afraid,” Jesus announces, for “everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father” (Mt 10:32). In giving ourselves over to Christ, justified by faith and announcing our allegiance to the incarnate Son of God in virtue of a life lived in holiness for him, he himself becomes our protector. If I belong to the Son of God, he stands at my side each moment of the day, assisting me, caring for me, guiding me and keeping me safely within the sublime light of God. Although my body might be destroyed, my soul will step into life eternal. At death, I need not fear judgment, for Christ will announce my fidelity to him before the Father who loves his Son and loves all who share in this infinite, divine love.
“He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (Jn 14:23)
It is in belonging to Christ that I receive the life which cannot be taken away and never fades, for those whose lives are lived in God and for love of him, remain beyond destruction.
For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me; and this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. (Jn 6:38-40)
Give your life over to Christ, and then take courage and be at peace, for he has truly overcome the world (Jn 16:33). All praise and glory to Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of humankind!
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Photo Credit: By carulmare [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
Deacon Frederick Bartels is a member of the Catholic clergy who serves the Church in the diocese of Pueblo. He holds an MA in Theology and Educational Ministry and is a Catholic educator, public speaker, and evangelist who strives to infuse culture with the saving principles of the gospel. For more, visit YouTube, iTunes and Google Play.