Are we assisted by God's grace even if we aren't in the state of grace?


Are we assisted by God’s grace even if we aren’t in the state of grace?

  1. Of course, the grace of God that gives us assistance - the grace that we must cooperate with to do good works is what we call “actual grace”.

  2. But when we say “state of grace”, this refers to the state of justification, or the state of sanctifying grace.

The reason why I ask if we can be assited by God’s (actual) grace when we’re not in the state of (sanctifying) grace is because we can’t be further sanctified if we’re not in the state of sanctification - sanctifying grace - to begin with.

And we undergo the process santification when our soul encounters an increase of this “sanctifying grace” when we do good works, which are causes initially by God’s actual grace (since humans can’t do and good with out the help of God - his grace - his actual grace).

So, basically, it comes down to this:
And correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe I have the most of it correct. . .

If one must be in the state of grace to merit the graces of sanctification, and we merit these “graces of sanctification” (or santifying grace) by doing good works, but we can’t do good works without the help of God’s actual grace, than how can humans do **any good **at all outside of being in the state of grace? Because obviously you can’t be sanctified outside of the state of grace, and by doing good works, in essence, you are sanctified.


Actual Grace is simply God acting on us and compelling us to holy actions, while Sanctifying Grace is the abiding presence of Divine Life in our souls. We don’t need to have the abiding Divine Life in our soul for God to act on us and compell us towards good; in fact, it is only by God acting on us that we can receive Sanctifying Grace at all.

It’s best to view the two kinds of Grace as very different, but related things. Actual Grace is God acting on us, Sanctifying Grace is God dwelling in us by giving us a share of His own Life. We grow in that life by deepening our bond with God, and pursuing His work, just like exercising muscles and getting fit.

Another way to look at it is that Sanctifying Grace is akin to having a certain nature, while Actual Grace is something that entices us to act.

Peace and God bless!


Yes, I understand all of this. Though, it’s still not clearing up my problem. Or THE problem.

Perhaps a better question should be, does every good work,** due to actual grace**, lead to an increase in sanctifying grace? If so, than** actual grace cannot exist beyond the state of grace **because sanctification is a process that occurs to the soul when it is first in the state of grace (either first to due to Baptism, or later due to Sacrament of Reconciliation) and grows in sanctifying grace.

So you still see the problem.

And this is a problem, because, say (for example) a friend of mine or a relative skips mass on purpose and knows it is a grave sin. So, because it is a mortal sin, he/she is no longer in the state of grace. Yet, it appears he/she is still performing good works. How can this be, with the above explanation (if true?)


Hi cathlic1seeks,

You’ve admirably laid out the basic schema, and also highlighted a good question. I might be able to clear up one portion for you.

It is important to distinguish between good works which proceed from merely natural power and good works which are vivified by grace. It is possible that man, without sanctifying grace or actual grace, can perfrom naturally good actions. These actions, however, are not meritorious, or salutary.

Does that help a bit? What are your thoughts?


Yes, it does. But how do we know the fine line? Are the “good works” (due to grace) works of love, and the other, not?


But does not all good come from God?


Just continuing on from my last post, taking into account your above scenario:

Your friend or relative who has lost the state of grace would certainly be able to preform good and moral acts without the aid of grace. In certain circumstances, if they had developed natural virtues (which hitherto had been vivified by grace when they were previously in the state of grace) those virtues (i.e. the habit of doing good) could also remain.

Niether the the good acts nor the natural virtues which remain would be supernatural, and would not be meritorious. One can even still perform acts of religion (if one were in the habit of doing so) such as saying the rosary, etc, but they would not be meritorious. They still would be noble and good, from a natural point of view.

What do you think>


When you say good works due to grace, your are speaking of meritorious works. These works, vivified by grace, would be performed by a person in the state of grace who would, therefore, possess the infused theological virtue of Charity. So, in that sense, you can say that these meritorious works proceed from supernatural love (the theological virtue of Charity whereby God is loved above all things, for Himself). In that sense sanctifying grace, merit, and the theological virtue of Charity are, as it were, three facets of the same jewel.

What do you think?


But is my outlook even true? Is it true that we only have God’s assistance of actual grace when in the state of sanctifying grace?
And how do we know?


So, when one is not in the state, he/she is void of all charity…and even hope and faith, the other theological virtues? By witness this doesn’t appear so. But it does seem to be consistent with the Church’s teaching.


No, someone who loses the state of grace through mortal sin does not lose the infused virtues of Faith and Hope, unless their sin directly attacked those virtues (such as apostasy, which would destroy Faith). The supernatural infused virtue of Charity is destroyed because any mortal sin is incompatible with Charity where God is loved above all things in Himself.

But “charity” with a “small c” so to speak, i.e. humane or humanitarian acts can still be done. Those do not have to proceed from a supernatural power, and they are not meritorious (unless vivified by grace). You can even still love God – but not above all things, for His own sake.



Without the Grace of God we could not even accept His Grace to turn from sin and repent.


–Never got to say thanks, Verbum Caro, for the clarity!!! :thumbsup:


:tiphat: You’re welcome!


Of course. Otherwise there would be no conversions, as even our faith is a gift (grace) from God.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit