Overcoming sin

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He who does not give up prayer
cannot possibly continue
to offend God habitually.
Either he will give up prayer,
or he will stop sinning.

-St. Alphonsus Ligouri
(1696 – 1787)

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Retreating from Love

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All sin is rooted in the failure of love.
All sin is a withdrawal of love from God,
in order to love something else.
Sin sets boundaries to our hope,
and locks our love in prison.

–Thomas Merton
No Man Is An Island

The full treatment

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When I was a child I often had toothache, and I knew that if I went to my mother she would give me something which would deaden the pain for that night and let me get to sleep. But I did not go to my mother–at least, not till the pain became very bad. And the reason I did not go was this. I did not doubt she would give me the aspirin; but I knew she would also do something else. I knew she would take me to the dentist next morning. I could not get what I wanted out of her without getting something more, which I did not want. I wanted immediate relief from pain: but I could not get it without having my teeth set permanently right. And I knew those dentists: I knew they started fiddling about with all sorts of other teeth which had not yet begun to ache. They would not let sleeping dogs lie, if you gave them an inch they took an ell (45 inches).

Now, if I may put it that way, Our Lord is like the dentists. If you give Him an inch, He will take an ell. Dozens of people go to Him to be cured of some one particular sin which they are ashamed of or which is obviously spoiling daily life. Well, He will cure it all right: but He will not stop there. That may be all you asked; but if once you call Him in, He will give you the full treatment.

–C. S. Lewis
Mere Christianity

Published in: on 07/10/2013 at 6:08  Leave a Comment  
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This is the way!

Road Shafts of Autumn Sunlight

Sin is “novel,” goodness is natural. The truly Christian person is the truly natural person. He is not living against the grain of the universe, but with it. He is not barking his shins on the system of things. He knows his way about in a universe of this kind—he knows how to live. I know exactly how I feel when I sin—I am orphaned, estranged, and everything within me cries, “This is not the way.” I also know exactly how I feel when I live the Christian way—I am universalized, at home. Everything within me cries, “This is the way!” His way is my way.

–E. Stanley Jones
The Word Became Flesh

Melted by mercy

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To your mercy and grace
I credit my sins being melted like ice;
to your mercy and grace I credit
whatever evil I have not done.

–St. Augustine (354 – 430)

Published in: on 01/21/2013 at 12:04  Leave a Comment  
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Love does not mean approval

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We often confuse unconditional love
with unconditional approval.
God loves us without conditions but does not
approve of every human behavior.

God doesn’t approve of betrayal, violence, hatred, suspicion, and all other expressions of evil, because they all contradict the love God wants to instill in the human heart. Evil is the absence of God’s love. Evil does not belong to God.

God’s unconditional love means that
God continues to love us even when
we say or think evil things.

God continues to wait for us as a loving parent waits for the return of a lost child. It is important for us to hold on to the truth that God never gives up loving us even when God is saddened by what we do. That truth will help us to return to God’s ever-present love.

–Henri Nouwen
(emphasis added)

Firmly in fellowship

Within the last century, the term fellowship has evolved into a construct that Christians use to talk about feelings of closeness to God at a given time. It’s a framework for relating to God that, unfortunately, we tend to develop from our interpersonal relationships. If we’ve sinned against a friend, family member, or coworker, we feel that our relationship with them is strained or broken until we apologize, are forgiven, and then restored to previous communication.

In the Scriptures, fellowship with God is not described in this way. Instead, a person is either in fellowship with God and therefore saved, or out of fellowship and therefore lost.

In the ten instances of the word fellowship
in the epistles, not once is there
a moving “in and out of fellowship” with God
based on recent performance.

Of course, we still mature spiritually. And when we sin, consequences hit us. We can’t escape the laws of the land. We also can’t escape the reactions of others. If we sin against someone, we may experience difficult circumstances and our own disappointment with our choice. But we shouldn’t mistake these earthly consequences for moving out of fellowship with God.

Our fellowship is stable and certain. God’s face is always toward us. When we sin, he’s there every step of the way to help us learn from our mistake. How arrogant it is to assume that we could escape sin alone, while out of fellowship, in order to get back in!

If we buy the lie that God sits in a swivel chair, ready to rotate his face away from us when we sin, then we proclaim a God of conditional love and conditional fellowship. But this is to ignore the work of Jesus, who on the cross cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). Jesus was out of fellowship with his Father so we would never be.

–Andrew Farley
(emphasis added)

The sublime wonder of living

The surest way to suppress
our ability to understand
the meaning of God
and the importance of worship
is to take things for granted.
Indifference to
the sublime wonder of living
is the root of sin.

–Abraham Joshua Heschel
(1907 – 1972)

Negation or celebration?

In a break with the mystical heritage of the church, [Dietrich] Bonhoeffer maintained that Christianity involves not the negation of earthly desires but their celebration and sanctification.

Sin is not the natural but the unnatural, not
the human but the inhuman.

Whereas in his earlier writings he portrayed the things on earth as temptations and snares leading us to forgetfulness of God, he now regarded them as welcome gifts from God, since they serve human preservation and happiness. He even claimed that God can be found in earthly bliss as well as in the church…

Sin is not only an affront to God
but a putting down of humanity.

Sin is, in the last analysis, inhumanity, and salvation is the realization of true humanity…

–Donald G. Bloesch

Restoring the rhythm

The early church leaders described the Trinity using the term perichoresis (peri-circle, choresis-dance):  The Trinity was an eternal dance of the Father, Son and Spirit sharing mutual love, honour, happiness, joy and respect… God’s act of creation means that God is inviting more and more beings into the eternal dance of Joy.  Sin means that people are stepping out of the dance… stomping on feet instead of moving with grace, rhythm and reverence. Then in Jesus, God enters creation to restore the rhythm and beauty again.

–Brian D. McLaren

Relentless love

God’s love is not
wearied by our sins
and is relentless in
its determination that
we be cured at whatever
cost to us or Him.

–C. S. Lewis

Crucial choices

People often think of Christian morality as a kind of bargain in which God says, ‘If you keep a lot of rules, I’ll reward you, and if you don’t I’ll do the other thing.’ I do not think that is the best way of looking at it. I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a Heaven creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is Heaven: that is, it is joy, and peace, and knowledge, and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other. 

–C. S. Lewis

Published in: on 02/15/2012 at 6:41  Leave a Comment  
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Withdrawing from love

All sin is rooted in the failure of love. All sin is a withdrawal of love from God, in order to love something else.

–Thomas Merton

Published in: on 02/14/2012 at 7:45  Leave a Comment  
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Incomprehensible excess

We sinned
for no reason but
an incomprehensible
lack of love.
And He saved us
for no reason but
an incomprehensible
excess of love. 

–Peter Kreeft

Ingratitude

Basically and radically
all sin is simply
ingratitude.

–Karl Barth (1886 – 1968)

Published in: on 07/21/2011 at 23:28  Leave a Comment  
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