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 Post subject: Free will and Grace
PostPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2005 6:46 pm 
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Apart from God's grace, do we have free will? Or does God's grace enable us to have free will? Can we by our natural abilities alone freely choose to believe in, love, and obey God?


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 Post subject: Re: Free will and Grace
PostPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2005 8:41 pm 
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coolmk20x wrote:
Apart from God's grace, do we have free will? Or does God's grace enable us to have free will? Can we by our natural abilities alone freely choose to believe in, love, and obey God?


Free will is part of our created nature. It's goal is to believe in, love and obey God, and to do so in a way that allows the being to appreciate this end. We still have free will without grace, but the true end (what free will wants to accomplish) cannot do it because sin takes God out as the final goal, and tries to replace Him with something that will never give us fulfillment. In this case, our free will actually is the cause of our despair, for we freely want happiness, but cannot find it. It is only by a free act of God that he gives us back the grace we threw away. When he does this, our wills can once again see where true happiness lies, and we can again work to make all of our choices ones that lead back to God.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 29, 2005 11:47 am 
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I don't understand. If we naturally have free will, why can't we without grace choose to love God? I though that it is grace that restores our free will, so that we can freely choose to love God.


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PostPosted: Mon May 02, 2005 4:41 pm 
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FJ, wonderful answer!!! :clap:

Maybe, coolmk20x, it's because of our "fallen" nature which works against us achieving that happiness we desire so much; grace is the antidote to sin.

Everyone knows that it's better not to smoke than to smoke, so why does someone smoke? It's the perversity (the turning-upside-down) of our free will to hurt ourselves instead of becoming One with God. Grace works in several ways to help us--within the context of this example--to overcome that temptation to smoke: it can clear away our errors of seeing ("Yes, I see now that smoking is bad for me," you step out of denial about the harm of a sin); it can give you strength to resist that temptation, etc. FJ is right, by overcoming our sin we are slowly but surely led back to God and happiness.

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I though that it is grace that restores our free will, so that we can freely choose to love God.

We can direct our will towards loving God, (I resolve, for example, not to smoke anymore) but I cannot make acts of love for God without His Strength to help me do so (Therese needed God's grace to help her love Him and those around her).

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PostPosted: Mon May 02, 2005 4:50 pm 
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Why after baptism do we still have difficulty obeying God? I though grace is what helps our will choose God. Why then do we still find it hard to do that following baptism?


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PostPosted: Mon May 02, 2005 5:14 pm 
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Why after baptism do we still have difficulty obeying God? I though grace is what helps our will choose God. Why then do we still find it hard to do that following baptism?


Because Baptism doesn't take away our attractions to sin called concupiscence.

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Yet certain temporal consequences of sin remain in the baptized, such as suffering, illness, death, and such frailties inherent in life as weaknesses of character, and so on, as well as an inclination to sin that Tradition calls concupiscence, or metaphorically, "the tinder for sin" (fomes peccati); since concupiscence "is left for us to wrestle with, it cannot harm those who do not consent but manfully resist it by the grace of Jesus Christ." Indeed, "an athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules." Catechism of the Catholic Church #1264


Grace does help us, but we retain the free will to disobey (helped by the triple concupiscence of the world, the flesh, and the devil). We are still weak. It is through the reception of the Sacraments, prayer, mortification, penence, and the practice of Christian charity (and the attendant grace we receive) that strengthens our will against those temptations. To paraphrase a Carmelite brother who lived in the 17th Century, We don't become holy all at once (Brother Lawrence - Practice of the Presence of God)


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PostPosted: Mon May 02, 2005 5:19 pm 
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Cool point. Baptism cleans us of our sin and yes, it does help us to chose God, but our tendency to sin remains and this tendency weighs us down; we have to overcome that (at least, struggle to overcome it) and that is, according to some Spiritual writers the meaning of "take up your cross daily and come after Me," we cannot be perfect and it's a burden to not be perfect. As long as we try to say, Thy Will be done and not my will be done, then we are responding to grace with our free will which has to learn what is best for it and be strengthened to chose that which is best for it.
Of course, all easier said than done...

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PostPosted: Mon May 02, 2005 5:43 pm 
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but grace helps the will choose God. why, even with grace, do we still find it difficult choosing God? Shouldn't our tendency to sin be gone since grace helps us choose God? I don't feel any stronger against sin after confession then I do afterwards. Why am I still able to easily fall into sin? Shouldn't grace help me make the right choices? Why does evil still seem more attractive or seductive? I though grace would help us see pass the seduction and reject it.


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PostPosted: Mon May 02, 2005 6:16 pm 
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but grace helps the will choose God. why, even with grace, do we still find it difficult choosing God?


I think that goes back to the notion of weakness. Grace, thus holiness, isn't digital. It isn't a switch that is flipped (wouldn't that be nice ;)). Since we are free creatures, we have to order ourselves, via grace, to objevtive reality. Nevertheless, we are weak and grace doesn't compel.

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The way of perfection passes by way of the Cross. There is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle. Spiritual progress entails the ascesis and mortification that gradually lead to living in the peace and joy of the Beatitudes: Catechism of the Catholic Church #2015


It is the struggle that makes us strong. God doesn't wave a grace-wand over us that removes all of our tendencies. He does help us use our free will to choose the good. As we are sanctified, our will is strionger and stronger and the attractiveness of sin abates because we are being perfected. We see this in the lives of the saints. In my experience, we don't 'feel' strengthened by grace. However, we are strengthened as we rely on God more and more. It isn't that I can face sin more readily - It is that I am quicker to turn to God for help before I sin.

Check out The Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila. She describes this journey of sanctity through prayer - a classic!


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PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2005 11:34 pm 
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coolmk20x wrote:
but grace helps the will choose God. why, even with grace, do we still find it difficult choosing God? Shouldn't our tendency to sin be gone since grace helps us choose God? I don't feel any stronger against sin after confession then I do afterwards. Why am I still able to easily fall into sin? Shouldn't grace help me make the right choices? Why does evil still seem more attractive or seductive? I though grace would help us see pass the seduction and reject it.


No our tendency to sin will never leave until we are perfected. Think of it this way, if you were born with a great body, but got lazy and fat, then worked out to get in shape again, does that mean its impossible now to get lazy again. Grace washes original sin, but since original sin happened our souls tastes imperfection causing us to be weighted down through our own fallen nature towards sin while God's grace raises us up. This doesn't mean sin has a chance against grace, but it is our minds which are weak that fight our spirit and give in to our fleshly weakness. Evil is the desire towards power and seduction to our own selves while our spirits absolutely hate it. Grace does help us to reject sin, but Grace is infinite so we need to constantly cling to it otherwise we fall away. The higher the grace, the greater the temptation, and the stronger the resisiting of temptation, the greater our gifts. If you didn't have a test you would still fall due to pride because you will think your Grace makes you invincible. God allows it so we depend more upon Him not just the fact that we have His Grace.


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PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2005 5:49 pm 
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Nice thread!

I was reminded of this verse:

Gal 5:17 "For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please."

So it seems we have a war within.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2005 9:54 pm 
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Robert wrote:
Nice thread!

I was reminded of this verse:

Gal 5:17 "For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please."

So it seems we have a war within.

We do have a war within, the biggest war of our lives. I always quote, "The most powerful devil is the devil within" and "The hardest person to defeat is yourself." I think these are good quotes because inside your body and your mind you may get lustful so the devil within is powerful and the hardest person to defeat is yourself for instance when denying yourself to follow Christ. Of course we have our jerky demon pals always around us to stir up these inner temptations and make them grow so we have to fight them at the same time. This is a big war.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2005 10:07 pm 
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when the bible says that Jesus was tempted in every way, does that imply internally too? Many people like talking about the psychological struggle of Christ. To me this sounds like heresy because Jesus was God and therefore shoud not have suffered from internal temptations.


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PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2005 10:38 pm 
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coolmk20x wrote:
when the bible says that Jesus was tempted in every way, does that imply internally too? Many people like talking about the psychological struggle of Christ. To me this sounds like heresy because Jesus was God and therefore shoud not have suffered from internal temptations.

No Jesus only suffered external temptations. Satan tempted him to give up to gain a kingdom on earth an external temptation, or throw yourself off a cliff so Angels will catch you, an external temptation. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Satan was just telling Him that taking on sins is too much to bear and humans don't care so turn away, an external temptation because Satan wants Jesus not to sacrifice His body for us. If Jesus had internal temptations it would be like, "Well Satan has a point, I mean I could do this." That wouldn't happen, this only happens to humans with a fallen mind. Jesus besides being God was a perfect human too. Satan couldn't even tempt Mary internally since she was Immaculate which is why she crushed that serpents head. Jesus being tempted in every way means that Satan tried everything he could to tempt Jesus, but can't go beyond his power so he couldn't tempt Jesus internally.


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 Post subject: Re: Free will and Grace
PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2005 11:45 pm 
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coolmk20x wrote:
Apart from God's grace, do we have free will? Or does God's grace enable us to have free will? Can we by our natural abilities alone freely choose to believe in, love, and obey God?


The simple answer is no on all counts. Actual grace does just that: it actuates all of our faculties. See the Council of Orange for a precise understanding of this.

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