The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak?


What did Jesus mean when he said “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak?”

And why did Paul say “God will not tempt ye beyond that ye are able to bear”?

And is there a contradiction here?


No, and I don’t see how you arrive at that conclusion. God will not allow for temptation that is impossible to bear, but he will allow the devil to present sin as so alluring it is incredibly difficult to resist. This is especially evident with sin resulting from the weakness of the flesh, as seen in the original context, where the apostles preferred to sleep rather than watching with Christ. We always have the strength to resist. The reason why we must conquer the flesh is to overcome temptation, stir up the strength to do so, and resolve positively the inherent tension that exists between the two through the supremacy of the spirit. There is no contradiction.


Who was Paul’s audience? Practicing Catholics.

He is speaking to those who are in a state of grace.

Without grace, it is impossible.


I want to get up an hour early in the morning and do exercises. (Spirit is willing)

I hit the snooze because the bed is comfy (flesh is weak)

1 Corinthians 10: 13

No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it

There will never be a time when your only options are “sin” or “the lesser/different sin”.


A friend of mine died under tragic circumstances this past Sunday.

We still don’t know if she was murdered, or died of a drug overdose, but it looks like she was using drugs on the day she died.

I was told, on another thread, that the disease of addiction can make it difficult to make the right choices, even when you want to, and that this can lessen the addicts culpability.

Is that true?

The passages I quoted in the OP come to my mind when I’m trying to think this out and pray for my friend.

If someone didn’t just slip her something, and she was doing drugs on the day she died, could she have been less than fully culpable because of her disease, or would that be like saying she was tempted beyond what she could bear?


We are told never to despair.

Simply pray for her soul. Offer Mass for her.


But can addiction lessen one’s culpability, or is that just an excuse?

And did the Apostles sin by falling asleep when Jesus told them to pray?

Or was He implying they hadn’t really sinned (at heart) because they’re bodies were just too weak to stay awake?

But would that mean they were tempted beyond what they were able bear?


When we are tempted to sin of our own free will, we will always have the option not to sin.

You nor I have a crystal ball to see into your friend’s heart and mind, we do not know if she was operating under the influence or if she had free will. That is why we simply have to surrender to God’s mercy.

I have lost friends to suicide and to overdose of an unknown reason. I understand your pain right now. My best advice, imagine you are sitting by a river and holding all of these questions.

Look, down the river comes Jesus driving a huge barge. Just walk up the dock, put those heavy burdens on that barge and let Jesus take them on down the river. He loves you and he loves your friend more than you can ever know.


Yes, a person’s moral culpability can be lessened by factors such as addiction that would make the person’s actions something less than engaging in grave matter with full knowledge and full consent of the will. For example, take the following from paragraph 2352 of the Catechism: “To form an equitable judgment about the subjects’ moral responsibility and to guide pastoral action, one must take into account the affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety or other psychological or social factors that lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability.” Now, in that instance the Catechism is specifically speaking about the sin of masturbation, but I would imagine a similar analysis would apply to other potentially addictive/habit forming behavior such as drug use.

Do not despair. Trust in God’s unfathomable divine mercy, and pray for the repose of your friend’s soul. I am sorry for your loss and the grief and pain you must be feeling. It is always tough when we lose someone we care about, especially when that loss is due to sudden or tragic circumstances. But there is always hope. Trust in the Lord and allow His grace to support you and carry you through this trying time. Peace be with you and God bless.


Yes. It can lessen culpability.

Some people suffer more temptations than others. The devil isn’t just in his tempting. He plays for his own benefit (selfish).


I am so sorry for the loss of your friend.


I’m so sorry for your loss :pray:t2::pray:t2::pray:t2:


Thank you.

I want to believe what you said here.

But what about 1 Cor. 10:13?

What does “God …will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able: but will make also with temptation issue, that you may be able to bear it” mean?


Thank you.


When Paul used the word flesh, we must look at its original context and interpretion to the reader.


Seeker , you are grieving, you found and tried to revive your friend.

Please seek professional help and speak to a Priest about all this.


My priest said pretty much the same thing “SomissCatholic” said, but I still don’t understand 1 Corinthians 13:10, and he didn’t seem to have any thoughts on it.

Doesn’t anyone here?

And aren’t there any priests here?


It was Jesus who used the word flesh when He said the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak (and that gives me hope for my friend.)

But Paul (to the Corinthians) said that God “will not suffer ye to be tempted above what ye are able” (and that’s got me scratching my head.)

I am confused, and greiving, and I was hoping someone could help me understand these passages of scripture, and how they relate to addiction and the principles of moral Theology.


I’m not sure I understand it, but Haydock’s Catholic commentary on 1 Corinthians 10:13 is interesting.

Ver. 13. Let no temptation [1] take hold on you. Or, no temptation hath taken hold of you, or come upon you as yet, but what is human, or incident to man. Ch. — The sense of these words is obscure: we may expound them by way of prayer, let no temptation, but such as are of human frailty, and not hard to be overcome, happen to you. See the Greek text. — Will make also with temptation issue, that you may be able to bear it. The literal signification of the Latin, compared with the Greek is, that God will bring you off, and make you escape out of those dangers, when you are tempted. Wi. — The most violent temptations are occasions of merit and triumph to such as are in the hands of God; whilst the lightest are snares and a deep abyss to such as are in their own hands.


So maybe what Jesus meant, when He said “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (in reference to the apostles going to sleep after He told them to watch and pray) was that they hadn’t sinned mortally because their freewill had been impaired by the weakness of their bodies (and they weren’t fully culpable)?

And maybe what Paul meant was that when a fully culpable person with unimpaired freewill is tempted to sin, God will always offer them a way out?

Is that what you’re saying?

I think that makes sense.

Thank you.

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