I had a question posed to me:
“God is the Truth, He knows everything and is the ultimate architect. He created us to love Him, worship Him, to learn His ways and strive for Eternal life. How is it that God’s creation took a turn for the worst? A great philosopher said, “Man is a wolf to man.” This is so true. People may hate you because you are too beautiful or too ugly, because you are too rich or too poor or because of your skin color – whether black, white or yellow. People hate you because you are Christian, Jewish or Muslim. At this pace it seems that the devil is winning. I understand the reality that if you sin – such as having sex outside of marriage or are disrespectful to another, etc – if you repent and seek God’s grace, God in His mercy will forgive you. But killing people and feeling good about it and murdering people in the name of God or for power and control or for an ideology is despicable. It breaks my heart that this is what humanity has come to. What are your thoughts?”
The Reality of Sin
“How is it that God’s creation took a turn for the worst?” This is the key question. Understanding this one will understand why there is hatred, violence and evil in the world and even in our own hearts to varying degrees.
In the beginning God created all things out of nothing and He did this not out of necessity but because of love. And God has revealed that the pinnacle of all material creation was man and woman. God surrounded the first man and woman – named Adam and Eve – with abundant goodness. God gave them all they needed. God created these human persons with an intellect and a will. God also gave them special gifts. God gave them the supernatural gift of grace that was in their souls. Because of this gift we say they existed with perfect justice – they were right before God. They also had communion with God and with each other – which we refer to as perfect harmony. They also had dominion over the animals and all created things. Their existence was also one of perfect integrity – their intellect controlled and ordered their will as well as the passions and emotions. God also gave them the gift of immortality (God was not going to let them die physically) and the gift of impassibility (God was not going to let them suffer physically). God gave them all of these things as gifts. The only thing God asked of Adam and Eve was for their love and obedience. God only gave them three commands – (1) guard the garden (2) do not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (3) be fruitful and multiply. If they kept these commandments, they and their offspring would continue to live with all of these great gifts God had bestowed on Adam and Eve and all humanity would live in perfect communion with God forever.
However, in the book of Genesis, we are shown that Adam and Eve were not obedient to God. Adam did not guard the garden as we see that the devil was able to enter into it. Then we see that the devil disguised as a serpent talks to Eve with Adam by her side. The devil convinces Eve to disobey God. At the root of this act is pride, lack of trust in God, doubting God’s unconditional love and not believing that God always keeps His promises. As a result, Eve eats of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and then she convinces Adam to do likewise. This is the first sin of humanity. God had put Adam and Eve to the test – testing their faith, trust and love. They failed. As a result of this first sin, we see that immediately Adam and Eve lose the special gifts God had given them.
They lose integrity – they had been naked this entire time but after they sin, their passions and emotions rise up and influence their intellect and will. We see that they look upon each other and are ashamed by their nakedness (likely experiencing the sin of lust in their hearts).
They lose impassibility – God tells them they will now suffer physically in their day to day lives.
They lose bodily immortality – God tells them that they will now die physically.
They lose harmony with each other, which we can see throughout history with husbands and wives having discord, but, even immediately, this loss of harmony can be seen with Adam not acknowledging his own guilt but rather blaming Eve for their sin.
They lose grace. The loss of grace is evident because God had promised that if they ate of the forbidden tree they would die. The fact they do not experience immediate physical death does not mean that God lied. What this tells us is that they suffered a worse fate – they died spiritually and fell out of communion with God (ie. they lost grace). This reality is also seen when Adam and Eve are expelled from the Garden of Eden and can no longer walk with God intimately in the garden.
The consequence of losing this sanctifying grace is that humanity will now experience a tendency to sin and have difficulty resisting temptations. Rather than allowing God and His grace to rule our hearts, sin will reign in the hearts of humanity. Because of the fall, communion with God and heaven were no longer possible for men at that point in time. The soul was still immortal and lived on after death but, without sanctifying grace, even the soul of the righteous could not enter heaven to be in the presence of God before the time of Jesus Christ.
With this loss of all of these special gifts and especially with the loss of sanctifying grace, the result was the human beings had a fallen nature. Our human nature is not totally corrupted or irredeemable. Our human natures are not pure evil. BUT our human natures have been wounded by The Fall. Without God’s help we can do all things natural to our human nature. We can walk, talk, do kind things, grow in knowledge and use our reason. However, we cannot do anything supernatural – we cannot do anything on our own that leads us to being in communion with God. For this we need a supernatural power and that power is grace which was lost in The Fall.
Our Savior Jesus Christ
In the first moments after Adam and Eve sinned, God provided humanity a second chance. God gives a prophecy in Gen 3:15. God promises that at some point in the future He will send a child born of a woman who will crush Satan. And what we now know is that this prophecy is referring to Jesus Christ who became man and died on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins rising on the third day from the dead. In these acts, Jesus crushed Satan by conquering sin and death – the two things most associated with Satan. In His death on the cross, Jesus redeemed humanity and made salvation possible for all. In redeeming humanity Christ made communion with God in heaven now possible for all men. Plus, Christ made grace available to all men and those who die with grace in their soul will be enabled to enter heaven to be with God eternally. And with Jesus’ Resurrection, Scripture tells us that He is the first fruits and all humanity – both the living and the dead – can now also eagerly await a bodily resurrection on the Last Day as well.
Because of all that Jesus did, Paul tells us, “O death where is your victory, O death where is your sting.” This is because even though Satan can and does have influence over this earthly world, ultimately, Satan does not win! In the end, those who choose to love God and cooperate with God’s grace will experience beatitude. Death is nothing for us to fear. Satan should not cause us to tremble. The army of angels united to God including our guardian angels are fighting with us and for us in this spiritual battle that is ongoing. If we remain in grace and united to God, we do not need to be afraid.
Evil in the World
It is clearly evident though that there is evil in the world. This is a result of sin. From the very beginning we see chaos and disorder that results from sin. Adam and Eve are expelled from the Garden of Eden and we are told they have many children. However, there first two children are boys – Cain and Abel. And because of humanity’s tendency to sin, what happens? Cain murders Abel! From the beginning we immediately see the horrific effects of sin in the world. It will only get worse from there. Throughout the Old Testament and even in our own day, we see idolatry, fornication, sexual immorality, homosexuality, incest, rape, adultery, child sacrifice / murder of innocent children, stealing, pride, greed, envy, and the list goes on and on. Without grace, it is extremely difficult for human beings to resist the temptations to sin. And yes the evil and atrocities in our day are heartbreaking but this has been ongoing since the beginning – from the time just after the Fall of Adam and Eve. Throughout history we can look back and see evidence of these disordered acts. Just in the past 2000 years we see the crucifixions and gladiatorial games of the Romans, violent wars between Christian countries in the 1500s, the atheistic French state putting prostitutes on the altars in churches in protest and killing tens of thousands by the guillotine, millions upon millions of people killed by atheistic communism and Nazism, to the present day with tens of thousands of babies being murdered every year in the womb and the constant violence seen in the news.
War, violence, hatred and evil are realities in this world because of sin. Sin is a disorder. It is a cancer that affects us all. We are each individually affected but this also spreads to our family and local communities and to the world. There will be times with less evil and times with more evil. But on this side of heaven, we will never know an existence without evil. But the Good News is Jesus Christ! Because of Him, even though evil is not eliminated in the world, within our own soul we can receive grace. The grace can transform us. It can enable us to resist temptations to sin. It is a supernatural power that can make us holy. And if we are united to Christ, we can experience inner peace, great joy and unconditional love even in the midst of suffering. And united to Christ we can reflect Christ in this fallen world. We can show others that love of God and hopefully help lead others to Christ. And ultimately, united to Christ and being in a state of grace, when we die, this grace will enable us to be in heaven where we WILL experience nothing but love, joy, happiness and true peace with no suffering, no sadness, no pain and no evil.
Where do we find this saving grace?
I have discussed this previously here. But to summarize:
Every human person alive today was born into the world without grace in our souls and as slaves to sin. But because of our Savior Jesus Christ, grace was made available to all humanity. The normative means for this grace to first be received is through baptism. At baptism, a person is filled with grace and all sins are forgiven. This grace is freely given to us by God. But this grace does not coerce us / force us to be obedient to God. It is a power that enables us to be obedient and have faith but we must cooperate with it. We can resist the help of grace in our lives, and no one is immune from this possibility. Because of this, it is possible after baptism to commit a grave sin (mortal sin) and lose grace. If this happens, there is still hope because Christ gave us a means to restore this grace into the soul – the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession). And throughout our lives, if we have grace in our soul, we can even increase this grace by frequently going to Confession, regularly receiving the Eucharist, through participation in the other Sacraments, through praying and in performing spiritual and corporal works of mercy.
Let us continue to pray for ourselves, for our family and friends and for the world. Let us pray that we all turn to God and convert our hearts more and more each day. Let us pray that we constantly strive for holiness so that we can be more effective witnesses of Christ to the world. Let us pray that the number of conversions to Christ will increase. Let us pray that all of us and those in the world can come to truly know the love, joy, happiness and true peace that comes with an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.
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