On the distinction between temptation and sin

From Ann Barnhardt’s latest, a quote from Catechism Made Easy, 1881:


“Another sin which is directly opposed to the virtue of Faith is all willful doubt of any revealed truth. For if it is forbidden to disbelieve a doctrine, it is no less forbidden to doubt of it, since faith requires that we should firmly hold fast, without a moment’s hesitation, what God teaches and the Church proposes. But notice, my dear children, that it is one thing for a doubt to enter into our minds, and another for us to give way to it. What is forbidden by this commandment is a willful doubt; that is, a doubt which comes into our mind and which we do not put away when we notice it, but which we dwell upon on purpose. If we dislike these doubts, and do our best not to think of them, we do not commit any sin, but, on the contrary, gain great merit.”

Ann is indirectly calling out certain behaviors exhibited on social media in recent days (or in some cases, much longer). But I would like to draw your attention to the critical distinction being made in this passage.

If you want to advance on the path of sanctity, learn this well. The temptations are there for you to resist, so that you might gain even greater graces. The temptations are permitted so that we might use them to our advantage, just like any other type of suffering. The temptations aren’t your fault, unless you give in to them, luxuriate in them, and turn them into sin. The quoted passage is addressing doubt, or lack of faith, but the lesson applies to all temptations: There is no sin without the full assent of the will.

Folks, you need to get this sorted. You will never be without temptation, and it’s for your own good. Every time we choose to love God and turn away from sin, we grow in holiness. After the Fall, this is God’s plan for us to reconcile ourselves to Him by cooperating with grace. When we pray, “Lead us not into temptation,” what we are praying is to not be OVERCOME by temptation, not for temptation itself to be taken away. The anti-church doesn’t understand this, which is why they are messing around with the vernacular translations.

Even our Lord was tempted. Have you ever meditated on that? He was/is a divine person with two distinct natures, human and divine, united in the Hypostatic Union. United but distinct, not commingled. His human nature was fully, truly human, like us in all ways except for sin. This is not an abstract theological concept. Why did He design Himself this way? So that we could know with absolute certainty that every element of the human condition, except sin, has also been experienced by God Himself. That’s how much he loves us. When He was tempted in the desert, it was real. Jesus was tempted. It’s okay to be sufficiently blown away by that.

Make the choice today to take that next step in sanctity. Hone your bearing. The only way to be ready to resist temptation is to already have on the armor of God, head on a swivel. The devil is everywhere waiting to devour you. But His grace abounds, and is always sufficient.

Saint Michael, pray for us!

Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

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