Everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. (John 8:34)
What should we do with such a black-and-white statement? Does it mean that we are all slaves of sin? Let’s look at this.
First, we should understand that we are all called to holiness. But God doesn’t call us to something he won’t equip us to fulfill. So we shouldn’t feel helpless or powerless in the face of our sin.
Second, we should understand that God wants us to learn to rely on Jesus, the source of all holiness. St. Alphonsus Liguori once said, “Habitual sin and prayer cannot coexist. Either we will stop sinning or stop praying.” We need to get in the habit of drawing strength from Jesus in all the ways that he comes to us: prayer, Scripture, the sacraments, spiritual direction, the beauty of nature, and Christian fellowship. To strive for holiness apart from Jesus will only leave us frustrated.
Third, we need to learn how to overcome our attractions to sin. St. Francis de Sales compares the person who indulges in “affection for sin” to the Israelites who left slavery in Egypt but longed for its comforts while journeying through the desert. The Israelites had to ask the same question we should ask: “Do I really want to return to a life of slavery for just a few moments of pleasure?”
Finally, we need to develop a plan. If you are prone to pride, dedicate yourself to humility. If you are prone to lust, pursue purity. Remember, you cannot think your way into being virtuous; you must act your way there.
At the start of each day, ask the Holy Spirit to give you the grace you need to make the right choices. Then, every few hours evaluate how you are doing, and ask the Lord again for his help. In the evening, take a few minutes to prayerfully review your day. Thank Jesus for every victory you have experienced, and ask his forgiveness for those times you have failed. Over time, you will find real and measurable progress. You really can become holy!
“Father, I want to hate sin. Give me the grace I need to say no to the temptations I face. I want to be holy, and I know I cannot do it on my own.”
Daily Thought From The Word Among Us (www.wau.org)