Our fallen nature


Here is a question for the wise people on this forum:

My protestant brother-in-law says that because of our fallen nature, we are subject to sin. We struggle and strive all our lives each time we fall to pick ourselves up and “go and sin no more”.

But he maintains that because of this fallen nature, it is virtually impossible to eradicate **all **sin from our lives. Is this an accurate statement?


Concupiscence–the disorder of desires–is a result of original sin which remains even after the stain of original sin is removed in baptism. It can co-exist with sanctifying grace in the soul since it is not a sin but rather a tendency to prefer lower goods above higher goods.

The Second Council of Orange taught that without the special help of God the justified cannot persevere to the end in justification.

The Council of Trent (Sess. VI, can. xxiii) taught that a man once justified is not able for his whole life long to avoid all sins, even venial sins without the special privilege of the grace of God. This means that with the help of ordinary grace, one can always avoid individual sins, but that a special grace would be required to avoid all sin together for a long time.

You may want to read the article on actual grace in the Old Catholic Encyclopedia.


As to the state of fallen nature, and man’s absolute need of Divine grace, if he is to control the rebellion of his lower appetites, belong to the very fundamentals of the Christian faith. They are among its most vital elements, whether we regard it from the point of view dogma or as a moral system. They are insisted on alike in Scripture and in the whole of ecclesiastical tradition. Writer after writer points to the sad condition of fallen man as being the reason which led the Son of God to become incarnate for us, or appeals to it as a convincing proof, that, unless we constantly seek God’s help, we will perish miserably. A religion which should deny these truths would not be Christianity at all.


The Council of Trent says it is impossible for someone not to sin, even with baptism and the other sacraments, but it differs from Protestantism in that it rejects the doctrine of ‘total depravity’ (it also states that the grace of God works with human effort to bring fruits in the quest for Christian perfection).


No - because there is no “virtually” about it: everything we do, bar nothing, is either a sin, or, is tainted by sin. Even our “best” prayers, actions, etc., are tainted in some way or other. Cardinal Newman, like several other writers, make this point:

*]That awful Creator Spirit, of whom the Epistle of this day speaks so much, He it is who brings into {27} religion the true devotion, the true worship, and changes the self-satisfied Pharisee into the broken-hearted, self-abased Publican. It is the sight of God, revealed to the eye of faith, that makes us hideous to ourselves, from the contrast which we find ourselves to present to that great God at whom we look. It is the vision of Him in His infinite gloriousness, the All-holy, the All-beautiful, the All-perfect, which makes us sink into the earth with self-contempt and self-abhorrence. We are contented with ourselves till we contemplate Him.[/LIST]reader.org/works/occasions/sermon2.htmlnewman

Which means that we can never look down on others, & never think that we are sinless - we can think that, only if we compare ourselves, not to God, but to our neighbour. St.Paul did not think he was perfect.


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