I believe that the non-Catholic contention that Mary could not have lived without sinning is the result of a serious lack of faith, since all the scriptures point to God’s command to live a holy life and avoid sin.
Leviticus 11 :44 For I am the Lord your God: be holy because I am holy.
Leviticus 11 :46 You shall be holy, because I am holy.
1 Peter 1 :16 Because it is written: You shall be holy, for I am holy.
Leviticus 20 :26 You shall be holy unto me, because I the Lord am holy, and I have separated you from other people, that you should be mine.
Leviticus 19 :2 Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and thou shalt say to them: Be ye holy, because I the Lord your God am holy.
It makes no sense whatever for God to command us to do the impossible when the Word of God clearly says that “with God all things are possible”. Our holy lives (or lack thereof) are the direct result of our cooperation with the superabundant grace that is the gift of God. If Our Lady was indeed “full of grace” then isn’t it unbelief to say that she did not lead a sinless life? (Luke1:28 And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.)
The New Testament nowhere gives us any example of Mary’s sin and calls Joseph and many others “righteous” because they obeyed God and cooperated with His grace in their lives. It is clearly not their own works that have merited their salvation, but their works are the result of their full cooperation with the God’s graces so that their salvation is a tremendous example of the overwhelming power of the grace that God gives us to do his will. (James 2 :18 But some man will say: Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without works; and I will shew thee, by works, my faith.
James 2 :20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
James 2 :22 Seest thou, that faith did co-operate with his works; and by works faith was made perfect?
James 2 :26 For even as the body without the spirit is dead; so also faith without works is dead.)
Is it not unbelief that causes us to fall? That unbelief is why we sin…we fail to believe that God’s grace is sufficient for us, then do not cooperate with that grace and as a result fall (flat on our spiritual faces).
Romans 3 :23 For all have sinned, and do need the glory of God.
Romans 5 :12 Wherefore as by one man sin entered into this world, and by sin death; and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned.
Also…there is no distinction made between Original sin and actual sin…newborns are without actual sin until the age of reason…Adam and Eve were sinless prior to the fall. Jesus…we know was also sinless.
St. Paul’s letter to the Romans is making a de facto statement about man’s nature and unbelief in general. I don’t think it is a literal statement. This is not salvation by works at all, but our cooperation with the free gift of grace from God.
Any light you can shed on this?