No Temptation Will Overtake You

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How are you doing on your Lenten promises? Remember the one I made about writing 500 words every day? Well, not doing so great. I took the weekend off although I did do some writing yesterday on another blog of mine that I have just redesigned. I guess that kind of counts.

I won’t get into the other Lenten promise I made but it involves one of the seven deadly sins. It has been difficult but I am doing okay with it and it started me thinking: What is it about sin that makes it so difficult to stop? Think about the sins you’ve committed, they all have one thing in common, they all bring some kind of pleasure. Usually, it’s sensual pleasure, but there can be other types of pleasure as well. This pleasure is what Satan uses to keep us coming back.

Sin begins with temptation. We are tempted every day, from all angles. Even if we were to totally unplug from everything there would still be temptation, unless I suppose we lived by ourselves in the middle of nowhere. But unless we lived every day of our life alone, I think we would still be tempted having memories of those sensual pleasures.

Now, are these pleasures bad? No, we just need to control them. Everything in moderation is the rule. And of course the ones that lead to sin, I am thinking here of lust, in particular, need to be controlled. When you lust after another who isn’t yours, this is where the sin of adultery begins. As Jesus tells us in Matthew:

 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Mt 5:27 – 28

It is one thing to look at a beautiful woman (or handsome man if you are a woman or if that is your persuasion) and you admire them for your beauty that’s okay, but if you are looking at them lustfully, that is a sin. Can you tell which of the deadly sins I am trying to stop? Lust has become so ingrained into our culture, really starting in the late sixties, we have been sold on the idea of looks equals lust. This is closely tied in with another deadly sin, pride, which really is the sin that leads to all others.

I used to suffer from pride as well, but that was one of the first to go for me. When I realized that God really is in control and that all I have comes from Him, I became quite humbled. But the lust thing is a little tougher. What is lust? The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines it as:

Lust is disordered desire for or inordinate enjoyment of sexual pleasure. Sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes. –  CCC 2351

If we jump up a few paragraphs to CCC 2534

The tenth commandment unfolds and completes the ninth, which is concerned with concupiscence of the flesh. It forbids coveting the goods of another, as the root of theft, robbery, and fraud, which the seventh commandment forbids. “Lust of the eyes” leads to the violence and injustice forbidden by the fifth commandment. Avarice, like fornication, originates in the idolatry prohibited by the first three prescriptions of the Law. The tenth commandment concerns the intentions of the heart; with the ninth, it summarizes all the precepts of the Law.

Ref: For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. – 1 Jn 2:16

Even when I go to Mass Satan sends those lustful thoughts to tempt me. I am not and will not act on these thoughts but I know I am still sinning. It’s a struggle for me, but then we all have sins we struggle with. Some of us are stronger than others meaning some of us don’t need to struggle as much, but there is still a struggle. Like it says at the top of this blog:

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. – Cor 10:13

God knows I am not strong but He also knows that I am trying.

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It’s All About the Noise

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Yesterday I mentioned the seven deadly sins: pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth or acedia. . How many of these have you had problems with? If you are anything like me you have probably struggled with all seven. have you ever noticed that when they are listed pride is always at the top? There is a reason for this, pride leads to all the others. Okay, I don’t really know if that is true or not, but I will do to get to five hundred words.

When you are vain or prideful, you usually suffer from envy, after all you want to be better than the next guy. You always need to be one step above everybody else. Of course the problem is the next guy want to always be one step ahead of you. Envy eventually leads you to lust after what someone else has. It could be his wife, it could be his life, you feel you need this in order to feed your pride. This will sooner or later lead you to gluttony. Next you will suffer from the sin of avarice or greed. You will have so much, yet still want more and soon you have too much. This then turns to wrath when you get angry because you can’t have every thing you want. Soon you become slothful or lazy because you either have so much you don’t care to get any more or you realize you can’t reach your goals, you can’t get ahead of the next guy and you give up.

Have you been down that road? I have. And going back to something I said yesterday, when you are surrounded by noise, by people telling you how you need this and that, how you need more than the next guy, and on and on. No wonder we fall into these seven sins. And this is exactly what Satan wants. He wants this noise. He wants us to not be able to hear God speaking to us. Satan doesn’t want us to take the time to listen to God, he doesn’t want us to look around at the beauty that God has made, instead he wants us to always be busy and out of control. He wants us angry and bitter and scared. When he does this then he knows we won’t have time to listen or even talk to God.

This is what I learned after falling off that truck. Getting knocked in the head is what finally caused me to listen. And when you listen and read and learn you realize that this is Satan’s plan and that you can beat him. How? By cutting out the noise and listening to God. As I said, when you put your trust in God, you won’t need to worry about what Satan is going to do, you can and will beat him.

When you cut out the noise and listen you will also learn how to tackle those seven sins, one at a time.

The good news is that God will forgive our sins and all we have to do is confess them. With a lot of patience and faith you will be able to beat each one, one at a time. I know, I’ve mostly done it. Yes I still sin but certainly not like I used to. You can live with out sinning, you can beat temptation, you can beat Satan and still enjoy life. In fact I love life more now than I ever did when I was drinking and whoring around.

 

One Day at a Time

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Day 2. I’m on a roll. Let me continue with yesterday’s thought. I was talking about putting things in God’s hands and following His lead. I quoted from Matthew yesterday when Jesus tells his disciples not to worry about tomorrow and to take care of today. When I began doing this it was like lifting a burden from me. Not that I just said the heck with it and stopped trying to do the things that needed to be done, but I came to the realization that a person can only do what he can do.

When I was young my father ran a small grocery store. He used to tell me you can’t make pork chops out of pig excrement. I cleaned it up a little and would say you can’t put 10 pounds of hamburger in a five pound bag. You might get five and a half or even six, but you wouldn’t never get ten. In other words, you can’t make something out of something that isn’t there.

We need to do this in our lives as well. We can only do as much as our time, talents and treasure allows us. If your paycheck is only $500 you can’t spend $600 and expect to get ahead or even stay even. Instead you reign in your spending, cut expenses and work on first staying out of further debt, then working off your debt within your means. It isn’t easy but once you understand this you will see that things will get better, you need patience, but you will get there. You will also be able to see that this will work and then you can stop worrying about tomorrow. You can’t do anything more than you are doing. When (and if) tomorrow comes you start all over and do what you can do.

Believe me it isn’t easy to do this at first but this is where the trusting in God part comes in. You need to shut out all the noise, the bill collectors, the television commercials, your coworkers when they tell you about all the new “toys” they have, and concentrate on your life, and what you need to do, each day. Learn to separate your needs from your wants and better days will soon come.

Once you get rid of all the noise around you, you will then be able to hear the Lord when he speaks. You will be able to hear what he is telling you, you will be able to see the signs he is giving you to keep you on the right path. I know I am not the best at expressing my thoughts but I am trying to get them across. I truly believe if you take the time to listen, God will direct you. When I began looking back on my life I realized that there were many times when he had tried to guide me I just didn’t listen. Even until about a year ago I didn’t always listen and I certainly didn’t completely trust in God. Once I did, my life truly turned around.

You can’t control what you can’t control. And you need to live one day at a time.

I learned to attack the seven deadly sins, one day at a time. These are Pride, Avarice, Envy, Wrath, Lust , Gluttony and Sloth. Once you are no longer a slave to these, you realize that God will have your back and you can get through anything.

I will expand on these and how I have managed to keep them under control in the next few posts. After all I have 38 more to write.

Is God Testing Us?

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Courtesy of Unsplkash

Courtesy of Unsplash

Have you ever been told that God is testing you? For example when there is some temptation in front of you, do you think it might be God trying to trick you into sinning to see how strong you are? I have to admit I used to think that at times, at least those few times I even gave sin any thought.

One of my favorite passages from scripture is the one that is at the top of my blog:

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13

When you first read this it almost sounds like God does indeed tempt you. He just doesn’t tempt you beyond what you can handle. But really what he is saying is He won’t let someone else tempt you beyond what you can handle. That someone else is Satan and his helpers. I guess this is where the saying “God only gives us as much as we can handle comes from.

I think back over my past, something I do way too much of I know, and I think of all the times I sinned and succumbed to temptation and I realize each time it was my choice. No one held a gun to my head, not even Satan, I sinned of my own free will. I also learned that God never let me go so far down where I couldn’t get back up.

There is another passage from James:

Blessed is the man who endures the trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one; but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death. – James 1:12 – 15

This is where we learn God doesn’t tempt us. Each of us is “lured and enticed” by our own desire. Take a look at the seven deadly sins:

  • Pride
  • Avarice
  • Envy
  • Wrath
  • Lust
  • Gluttony
  • Sloth

Each of these are related to some type of desire we have. Our pride will lead us to perhaps do things we wouldn’t to get ahead in our jobs. Avarice is our desire to get more “stuff”. Envy is when we desire someone else’s “stuff”. Wrath is when we get angry because we can’t have “stuff”. Lust is when we really want “stuff “and will do anything to get it. Gluttony is when we have too much “stuff” but won’t give it up. And sloth is when we are too lazy to earn the “stuff” we want. All based on our desires. The word “stuff” can mean a lot of things, it could be a bigger house, a new car, or a “trophy” wife or husband. (Is there such a thing as a trophy husband?) We are tempted by the desire for any or all of these things.

As it says in James. Desire leads to sin which leads to death. Just don’t blame it on God.

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It’s Your Choice

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Every once in awhile you hear or read something so profound you say to yourself “How can I steal that?” No, wait, I mean, “I wish I had said that.” Something will just hit you in the head like a two by four, and just make all kinds of sense, not that getting hit by a two by four makes any kind of sense, well at least not if you do it on purpose. Unlike most of what I write which makes absolutely no sense at all, here is what I heard today.

I was listening to one of my favorite Catholic radio shows, “Father Simon Says”on Relevant Radio, and he made the following statement (and this may not be exact because I was unable to write at the time):

“God doesn’t send us to Hell, He rescues us and brings us to Heaven.” Fr. Richard Simon

Sometimes we will hear people say things like “God will send you to Hell for that” but what really happens is we send ourselves to Hell by the choices we make.  We are the ones who decides where we will go, not God, not even Satan. We can choose to do right, or we can choose to do wrong, it is as simple as that. Satan will tempt us, but it is we who make the choice to follow through on the temptation. Read the following scripture passage:

Blessed is the man who endures the trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one; but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death. – James 1: 12 – 15

God does not tempt us, instead we are tempted by our own desire. Have you ever wondered why sins feel so good? It is because Satan wants to make them pleasurable so we will desire them. If any of you have committed adultery you will understand this. No matter how good your sex life with your wife may be, there is something about forbidden fruit that makes it taste so much better. Unfortunately, that pleasurable taste only lasts for a short time, but by then, the sin has been committed. Satan will tempt you again and again, and if you are weak (like a certain blog writer was) you will succumb to the temptation again. If you are strong, with faith and trust in God (like a certain blog author now) then you will be able to overcome the temptation.

Either way, you make the choice. God doesn’t, Satan doesn’t, you do.

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The Sin of Sloth

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Ok, time to get back to writing in the blog. Yes, I admit it, I am lazy sometimes, and that is unacceptable. After all, God gave me the talent to write, maybe not very good, but He did give me some, and I need to use it. After all the sin of sloth is one of the seven deadly sins.

A quick definition of sloth would be “being lazy”. A more complete definition from the Catholic Encyclopedia is:

One of the seven capital sins. In general it means disinclination to labour or exertion. As a capital or deadly vice St. Thomas (II-II:35) calls it sadness in the face of some spiritual good which one has to achieve (Tristitia de bono spirituali). Father Rickaby aptly translates its Latin equivalent acedia (Gr. akedia) by saying that it means the don’t-care feeling.

Now I know this definition is more directed to “spiritual laziness” but it can also be directed to any other laziness as well. Everything we have is given to us by God. Whether it is talent, money, family, material goods, it doesn’t matter. Oh, we might think we are the ones who have received these things because of our hard work, ant to some extent this is true. But it all starts with what we are given by God. He is the one who created us. (At this time I won’t get into the argument of creation versus evolution, but I believe our soul comes from God, and it is the soul which drives us.)

God gets us started and it is up to us to develop whatever God endows us with. We all have been given something, and it is up to us to figure out exactly what it is and then to make it work. When we don’t do this, figure out what talent or talents God has given us, this is sloth. It is a sin to not use our God given talents.

It is true some people use these talents for evil things, but then we must remember God has also given us free will. Free will and whether or not we really have it has been debated by philosophers for as long as there have been philosophers. Each philosophical theory (now there are some big words) has its own definition of free will, but I tend to go with Thomas Aquinas’ which is written in the “Summa Theologica“:

I answer that, Man has free-will: otherwise counsels, exhortations, commands, prohibitions, rewards, and punishments would be in vain. In order to make this evident, we must observe that some things act without judgment; as a stone moves downwards; and in like manner all things which lack knowledge. And some act from judgment, but not a free judgment; as brute animals. For the sheep, seeing the wolf, judges it a thing to be shunned, from a natural and not a free judgment, because it judges, not from reason, but from natural instinct. And the same thing is to be said of any judgment of brute animals. But man acts from judgment, because by his apprehensive power he judges that something should be avoided or sought. But because this judgment, in the case of some particular act, is not from a natural instinct, but from some act of comparison in the reason, therefore he acts from free judgment and retains the power of being inclined to various things. For reason in contingent matters may follow opposite courses, as we see in dialectic syllogisms and rhetorical arguments. Now particular operations are contingent, and therefore in such matters the judgment of reason may follow opposite courses, and is not determinate to one. And forasmuch as man is rational is it necessary that man have a free-will.

How we use our judgement is what makes us what we are. I know I haven’t always used good judgement in the past, and I honestly believe, after much soul searching, meditation and contemplation (there I go again using some more multi-syllable words) most of these bad decisions all stem from one bad decision. that was my decision to not listen to God, to not follow His teachings or the teachings of the church. I believed I knew better than Jesus and that was that.

Can I in any way prove this? Can I prove that had I followed the teachings of God and had I now left the church that my life wouldn’t have been different? No, but I believe it would have been. I can already see the differences in my life over the past few years when I started my journey back. I can see a difference in my attitude, my thinking and my outlook on life. And I know had I had this attitude 40 years ago, yes, my life would have been different.

Now back to the sloth thing.

If we do not use our talents, those that God has given us, it is a sin. And if, like me, we are called to use them for specific reasons, and don’t, this is a bigger sin. And finally, if we go to Confession (one of those uniquely Catholic things) and confess that we aren’t using our talents even after we believe God has called us to, and the priest gives us as our penance that we must write something every day, and we don’t, well that is really, really bad.

So, yes, I am doing my penance for being slothful, but that’s okay, I really don’t mind.