How do we overcome sin and temptation?
Our Lord says in today’s Gospel that we should cut off our hands or our feet and pluck out our eyes if they cause us to sin. Of course He doesn’t mean this literally – He is speaking metaphorically, and it’s not our hands, our feet or our eyes that cause us to sin but our will. The dramatic language is to show with what determination we should resist sin because it harms us. Sin can even cause us to lose eternal life if we don’t repent of it during our earthly life.
We ought never to confuse temptation with sin. Temptations themselves are not sinful. They only become sinful when we consent to them. Resisting temptation for the love of God is a means of great spiritual gain and helps us grow in virtue and in merit for Heaven. As St James writes, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he hath been proved, he shall receive the crown of life which God hath promised to them that love Him” (James 1:2-4).
Fr Paul Gillham
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