Source of my sinful behavior

I am 70+ years old and almost totally without progress on character defects I’ve struggled with for a half century. I fear judgment day is near. Is it possible I might be sent to hell when I believe I am only partially responsible for being the sinner I am?

Where did I get my sinful nature? My adult attitudes were, to a significant extent, formed by: 1) genetics (emotional wiring) and, 2) early childhood experiences. But I didn’t get to choose either my DNA or my early childhood environment. God made those choices for me. Not only did God create the foundation of my character defects, He also sent the devil to try to tempt me in ways that play into these defects. How then do I fear God might send me to a place of suffering for eternity when I am beset with defects I did not choose and traps set by the devil?

Yes, I know exactly what your talking about, yes I really do !
There is of course the Obvious , Confession, but if that is not a positive for you,
Then you could ask a Priest to give the name of someone that they almost consider a living Saint, , like an elder of the church, a truly holy man, that you could have confession and blessing from , to free your soul of guilt,
One thing that I have experienced, , is that you may be forgiven by confession,
But , do You forgive yourself of your Sins,

Regardless of what or who is to blame, you need to commit to making a contrite confession very very soon. Every single mortal sin that’s likely to tempt you should be immediately addressed. Ask the priest in confession for help and to spell it out for you so you can adhere to it. Make this your very top priority. And if you ask me, you need to enlist the Mother of God for prayers, protection, hope, and grace. Also force yourself to attend daily Mass. Every morning spend time in prayer, read a little from your Bible and recite the Rosary throughout the day. Then the future will shine brighter and the past will become meaningless.
One of the things to pray for constantly is PERSEVERANCE.
After I enrolled in the Brown Scapular, mortal sin was thrown out the door and kicked into the gutter where it belongs.

It seems to me that you believe that God is responsible for your sins. I can’t quite get my head around this way of thinking. Emotional wiring is usually environmental… and your childhood environment is also environmental. Blaming God for sending the devil to tempt you isn’t something I can understand either.

I’m not meaning to be harsh, really I’m not, but I think that we have to take responsibility for our failings… I think that’s a first step in order for us to find a way to overcome our failings. If we are to blame God, it’s sort of giving up and saying that these are the cards that I was dealt so that’s all you can expect from me. This is completely contrary to Church teaching.

In the Bible (1 Corinthians 10:13) it tells us that no temptation is too great that we cannot overcome it. Each and every one of us is tempted in various sinful ways but we have to find a way to overcome. We also have to trust in God to help us as without God we can do nothing.

I agree. I think that we first must acknowledge our weaknesses and look to God to help with them. I feel that saying “I was wired this way” and things like these could lead to one not acknowledging their shortcomings and to instead blame it on God. (In my humble opinion) It’s easier to say “I was put in this situation and so I acted this way” than to fight the battle; easier to give in to the situation than to take up our cross.

On a side, what if it turned out that some parts of your “sinful nature” were actually not due to wiring or environmental effects? Also, I don’t think you can “get [your] sinful nature” from anyone. Some temptations may lead to sin, but the temptation isn’t necessarily a sin (if I understand our teachings correctly). So while you may be predisposed to certain attractions (whether it is to people, alcohol, whatever it may be) by genetics or environment, it becomes a sin when you act on it (again, if I understand our teachings correctly).

At the end of all this, remember that God is good and his mercy is always given to those who seek it. God bless!

I think you’ve had some excellent answers already so I won’t add to them except to say that it seems to me that you are at least being positive in trying to address your character defects with the thought that, like all of us, you’re not getting any younger.
I’m five years younger than you, and it is about fifteen months since I realized, like you, that I had been living a sinful life for far too long. In order to find the strength to resist temptation when it comes, I can endorse what has been said regarding praying the Rosary daily. It really is such a powerful prayer and, if prayed devoutly, will bring you grace,strength and peace of mind. Also regularly receiving holy communion and praying to Our Lord.
May God bless you!

I appreciate the responses I have received so far. However, most miss the mark. The rules for forum postings here make it clear that the original question be brief. That forced me to leave out a bunch of important factors. You see, for the past half century I have beaten myself up saying “why am I so rotten and why don’t I have the fortitude to make the necessary changes”. My spiritual life has included regular confessions, perhaps a hundred spiritual books, thousands of daily prayers, uncountable pages in my spiritual journal, many periods of self-mortification, a zillion Rosaries and on and on. But still God does not talk with me and if He helps me with my addictive behavior I can’t tell because I still have terrible character defects that have not improved much. It has been only recently that I have stopped the self-flagellation and begun to ask the question “where and when did I make the decision to be an evil person?” Was it a conscious decision or simply erroneous assumptions about life that were the result of my brain wiring and early childhood experiences?

Well, thanks for that, your not an evil person,you obviously try your best ,but have this weight upon your shoulders that just won’t move,
Any chance you could explain your childhood experience to me by P M ?
Most of us had a few, including myself, but have moved on from it,

I’m sorry, Mike, that my original response missed the point. From your newer post it seems like you’re quite possibly judging yourself extremely harshly… it’s really hard to say as the whole content is vague.

The thing is… when we believe negative things about ourselves for so long, this can be very damaging. We have to love ourselves (have self respect) in order to show love to others. As Phil above says, you’re obviously trying your best, and at the end of the day that’s really all that any of us can do.

I think that talking with somebody would help to put things into perspective. Have you tried talking with the local Priest?

medfordmike,

I think if you found a trusted priest who could act as a confessor and spiritual director for you, you will be better able to work through these issues.

God does not send people to Hell for character defects; only for personal mortal sins that remain unrepented. A regular confessor can help you discern the difference, and of course offer absolution when such sin is committed.

And a good practice also is, whenever we sin are think it may have been mortal, to offer immediately an act of contrition. An act of perfect contrition (being sorry because of love of God), with a firm resolve to seek sacramental cofnession, will restore us to grace.

There are lots of sources for sin, but only One Source for the cure! In so many of the saints’ writings one reads that a person must *rely on God *to evict sin from our lives, and even then saints found imperfections which they wanted to confess (presumably on the grounds that from those to whom much is given, much is expected).

Anyway, read Spiritual Combat, by Dom Scupoli. It is available online (if you can’t find it, let me know and I’ll give you the link) or in paperback fron TANbooks and others. St Francis de Sales kept it in his pocket to read at any time.

Dom Scupoli says we must rely on God rather than on ourselves, and that when we are surprised or frustrated with ourselves for messing up, we are not relying on God enough. He also emphasizes that what God wants from us is perseverance in overcoming sin, not perfection! He spends a few chapters on this, then gives advice for specific sins.

It’s not easy–i have habits which are 20 years younger than yours and they still bother me! But just remember that what God wants is for us to keep asking Him for help and keep trying.

A hopeless life is a despairing life.
Hope is the opposite of despair.
Hope is lost by the sin of despair.
The sin of despair means that salvation is believed to be impossible because God might withhold grace; or grace is not withheld but cooperation with it is believed to be so difficult as to be practically impossible. Convinced that God, salvation, and grace are unattainable, the will gives up in despair.
Despair is a serious sin because it implies the denial of God’s most eminent attribute of mercy.
Judas betrayed Christ and committed suicide in despair.
To make sure we do not give in to discouragement and despair, we must cultivate the habit of professing our hope.
Those who should make more frequent and more fervent acts of hope are those whom God calls to a life of consecrated perfection, to the priesthood, to marriage and raising of a Christian family, and those who by nature are more prone to worry or discouragement (what psychologists call, the melancholic temperament).
The secret of professing our hope in Christ’s promises is to believe Jesus is here in this valley of tears, precisely to enable us in coping with the trials of life and trusting that He will not abandon us. This is exactly what the Real Presence means. It means God became man, and the Incarnate God is now here with us to reassure us that we are not alone.
In the last analysis, what is the reason for discouragement or dread of not reaching heaven? It is fear of ourselves. We know ourselves too well. We know our weakness and sinfulness and instability, and we are all afraid. But that is why God became Incarnate and dwells with us in the Blessed Sacrament—that we might look confidently to our heavenly home and trust peacefully in the strength that only He, our Eucharistic Lord, can give us. This is the abundant blessing found in coming to our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and professing our hope in His Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist.

I think the key word here is “struggled.” As long as you’re resisting with God’s grace, how can evil overtake you? This is the nature of the journey. We are all warriors until the day we die and if we fight the “good fight” therein lies possible salvation. Beware, though, that we are all called to a greater awareness of our sin regardless our compulsions and repetitive bad behaviors.

Where did I get my sinful nature? My adult attitudes were, to a significant extent, formed by: 1) genetics (emotional wiring) and, 2) early childhood experiences. But I didn’t get to choose either my DNA or my early childhood environment. God made those choices for me. Not only did God create the foundation of my character defects, He also sent the devil to try to tempt me in ways that play into these defects. How then do I fear God might send me to a place of suffering for eternity when I am beset with defects I did not choose and traps set by the devil?

Remember what happened to Paul?

*To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, **“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” *Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
~2 Cor 12:7-9 ~

The above is an invitation to trust and to grow in holiness.

A hopeless life is a despairing life.
Hope is the opposite of despair.
Hope is lost by the sin of despair.
The sin of despair means that salvation is believed to be impossible because God might withhold grace; or grace is not withheld but cooperation with it is believed to be so difficult as to be practically impossible. Convinced that God, salvation, and grace are unattainable, the will gives up in despair.
Despair is a serious sin because it implies the denial of God’s most eminent attribute of mercy.
Judas betrayed Christ and committed suicide in despair.
To make sure we do not give in to discouragement and despair, we must cultivate the habit of professing our hope.
Those who should make more frequent and more fervent acts of hope are those whom God calls to a life of consecrated perfection, to the priesthood, to marriage and raising of a Christian family, and those who by nature are more prone to worry or discouragement (what psychologists call, the melancholic temperament).
The secret of professing our hope in Christ’s promises is to believe Jesus is here in this valley of tears, precisely to enable us in coping with the trials of life and trusting that He will not abandon us. This is exactly what the Real Presence means. It means God became man, and the Incarnate God is now here with us to reassure us that we are not alone.
In the last analysis, what is the reason for discouragement or dread of not reaching heaven? It is fear of ourselves. We know ourselves too well. We know our weakness and sinfulness and instability, and we are all afraid. But that is why God became Incarnate and dwells with us in the Blessed Sacrament—that we might look confidently to our heavenly home and trust peacefully in the strength that only He, our Eucharistic Lord, can give us. This is the abundant blessing found in coming to our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and professing our hope in His Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist.

What a wonderfully inspiring post. God bless you,Googler.

I usually do not reply to any posts here on Catholic Answers. I just come to read the posts because I find them very entertaining.

I am a former Catholic, saved by the grace of God through the reading of His Word at the age of 19.

I am replying because your post and the replies you received from Catholics broke my heart.

The reason that you have not had success spiritually is because you have not been born again. It is because you have been trying, on your own, to earn your own salvation. It is very clear through God’s word however, that salvation is a free gift from God, and is given to those who simply believe. When we believe, Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us, and God no longer sees our sins, but He sees the righteousness of Christ. This is the amazing truth of the gospel. You need to give up. You need to fall at the feet of the cross, acknowledge your sins, and ask Jesus for forgiveness. Realize that there is nothing that you can do on your own to save yourself.

As far as sin not being your own fault, I have struggled with that idea as well. We are all sinners because of Adam’s sin. Adam was the only one who truly had a choice to sin or not to sin, and he chose to sin. But here’s the thing….we all would have chosen the same thing. All of us would have rejected God. The reason that God did not give each of us that choice, is because if He did, we ALL would have needed our own personal Jesus. However, because sin entered the world through ONE man, salvation was able to be brought into the world through ONE man, making God both just, and the justifier.

Romans 5:12-21
"Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

Dear friend, I will be praying that God gives you ears to hear and eyes to see. That you may see the truth that is found in His Word, and with it find the freedom that Christ came to bring. Take off your Catholic glasses and go to the Bible. It changed my life and it can change yours too.

And to all the Catholics that will want to refute things that I’ve said…I will not be coming back to check this or to engage in any further conversation.

Dear friend in Christ,

I hate to burst your bubble, but you have–and have always had --free will; so you will be held accountable for all of your un-repented willfully sinful thoughts, words, deeds, omissions, and desires. If you repent and confess your sins to a valid priest with true sorrow and a firm purpose of amendment, you will not have to worry about any past sins getting in the way of your salvation. Please take responsibility for your willful thoughts, words, actions, etc. that were opposed to God’s law, for if you don’t you will not be able to be forgiven of them in sacramental confession. God bless you.

Divine permissive will allows sin in the world.
God is infinite goodness. We are creatures that would not even exist except for the love of God. He is not the cause of sin. He has a wise purpose in allowing sin and suffering which is a consequence of sin. There is no deeper mystery why God allows sin. We have so often disobeyed God because we want to do our will in preference to His divine will. Human beings have a free will so free it can actually say no to God. God lets us fall into selfishness, obstinacy, self-will and self-indulgence of all kinds. We are so proud that God then would allow us to sin to humiliate us. Then we come to our senses how ungrateful we are in resisting God’s will to have our own. God allows us to sin so that we might love Him more. God allows us to sin so that we might become more holy than we would have been, had we not sinned. Somehow through the evil, God will draw greater good then would have taken place had evil not been allowed. God has permitted us to offend Him so that we might be more generous in the future than, we might have been had we not sinned. The sins in our lives are meant to be channels of grace. The more evil the more sin, the more grace God will give. Where sin abounds, there grace will even more abound. In His mercy God forgives us and takes us back into His friendship. He expects us to be more responsive to His grace more than we had been. There is nothing people need more on earth than to grow in the grace of God. We receive more grace and become more holy in the sacraments, and cooperating with the grace we’ve been given. If we don’t use that grace we’ll never get the next grace. He allows sin, ultimately for His glory.

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