God’s Answer to Concupiscence

On earth, humans have a lot of things against them. One of those is concupiscence. This is a long, hard-to-say word that stands for the problem humanity developed as a result of the first sin, original sin. After Adam and Eve sinned against God (Gen 3:1-8), they were now afflicted with the tendency to sin (CCC 405). No matter how hard they tried, they would always struggle with sin. Their relationship with God would be weak and always under threat. Not only would this affect Adam and Eve, their children, grandchildren, and so on would have to deal with it.

The Catholic Church named this condition concupiscence. Since all humans descended from Adam and Eve, we all have to live with this condition (CCC 407). This condition is what causes our inner temptations to sin. Satan can also tempt us, but with concupiscence we can be our own worst enemy. This is St. Paul referred to when he wrote about doing what he hated (Rom 7:19). No matter how good a person is their internal sinful desires will eventually get the best of them.

This can be a very sad thing to learn about. How can we possibly do good when our own bodies are against us? It’s all thanks to God. In his goodness he provides a counteracting force to oppose concupiscence. This force for good is grace (CCC 420). Where concupiscence constantly urges people to sin, God’s grace, through the Holy Spirit, constantly urges people to do good. Within each of us, good and evil are constantly battling (CCC 409).

At the same time, God still honors people’s free will. Just as our temptations to sin can never force us to sin, God’s grace will never force us to do good (CCC 155). We always have the choice. God’s grace is simply a positive influence. It’s plants in the mind a positive thought to do good and gives a taste of the warm, fuzzy feeling that will be felt after taking that good action. Even though God’s grace will never force us to do anything, sometimes that constant urging to do good is just enough.

I remember reading about a priest who for years ignored the grace of God calling him to join the priesthood. He ignored the call, constantly refusing to accept it, but eventually, he just couldn’t stand the constant urging from God. God never forced this man to become a priest, but he definitely made it hard to ignore the idea. Ultimately, God knows what is best for each of us. When he persistently calls us to do something, we should listen. It’s for our own good. That doesn’t mean it will be painless, but it the long run, we will be better off doing whatever it is God wants from us.

May God bless you with his abundant grace,
Jared

God’s Will vs God’s will

It can be confusing when studying the faith because there are many words and phrases that seem to have more than one meaning. God’s will is one example. Many times I will see it used in this way:

If you do God’s Will, you will get to heaven.

Here, “God’s Will” is just a shorthand way of referring to God’s overall set of rules for us to follow. There’s the commandments and other rules from the Bible, plus all the rules from the Church’s doctrine. Those would all be God’s Will, in a sense. God truly will’s us to follow these rules. The reward is a place in heaven. To do God’s Will would then be to follow God’s laws (CCC 2825). Here is another way I see God’s will used:

It was God’s will that I got hired for the job.

In this sense, “God’s will” is used like the idea of destiny. “It was my destiny that I got the job.” This is a much more bold claim to make. Anyone can say we need to follow God’s laws, but for a person to say God personally directed something to happen in their life is a little arrogant in my eyes. It may be completely true that God did make something happen for the person, but there’s no way to know for sure. For the most part, God does not predetermine what’s going to happen in our lives. He gives people free will to make decisions (CCC 1036).

I think it is best to avoid using God’s will to refer to destiny. Better to say, “God answered my prayer, and I got the job.” Even then, however, the reality is God did not force the manager to hire the person. At most, God planted the idea in his head that this person would be a good hire. The manager still had the free will to choose who to hire (CCC 311, 1705). Prayers are not useless — they have an effect — but they will never force someone to do something.

Throughout this article, I used a capital ‘W’ to refer to the phrase meaning God’s laws and a lowercase ‘w’ to refer to the meaning about destiny. I will try to remember to use capital and lowercase letters if I write any future articles using both phrases. I like my writing to be as clear as possible though, so I doubt I will refer to destiny using “God’s will”. I will only use it as the Church does, about what God wants Catholics to be doing.

May God bless you with his abundant grace,
Jared