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When Catholics think of sin, the first thing that comes to mind is adultery, murder, drunkenness, stealing, lying, etc. Actually these are mere symptoms of a sinful state as fever is a symptom of a malfunctioning organ. When the angels sinned, it was none of the above. And neither was Adam and Eve guilty of adultery or drunkenness. 

The sin is in doing one's will. . .which comes from pride. When we know God's will and still insist on our own will, that is pride. . . and that is sin. This was the sin of the angels.

Adam and Eve ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  From its very name, the tree was indeed something good. . .the knowledge of good and evil. Moral theology studied by every seminarian and ethics are subjects that bestow a knowledge of good and evil. 

Now, why would knowing good from evil be punishable in the case of Adam and Eve and not punishable in our case? Because, in the case of Adam and Eve, God had expressed His will . . . 'not to eat of the tree'. . . at least not for now. And Adam and Eve followed their own will though they knew God's will. So, though they really chose what is good, the knowledge of good and evil, they sinned in having chosen their will rather than God's will.

Then there is the example of Moses. The Israelites were thirsty in the desert and God commanded Moses to strike the rock ONCE. Moses struck the rock TWICE. Moses had a good intention; he wanted to give drink to the thirsty Israelites just as God's will was to give drink, too. The first strike was God's will; the second was Moses' will. And God punished Moses for doing his will by denying him entrance to the promised land. 

Moses had whole tribes slaughtered yet it was not attributed to him as sin; here Moses struck the rock a second time to give drink to the Israelites but it was considered sin in the eyes of God. How is this? Because the first strike was God's will; the second strike was Moses' will. 

Clearly the universal and fundamental spiritual battle is between doing God's will and doing our own will.

In the angel's case, it was called pride. Obviously he who chooses his own will rather than God's will is working on the assumption that his will is superior to God's will. And nothing could be more ridiculous.

On the other hand, nothing could be wiser than to choose God's will over our own will. . . for the simple reason that God knows better than any of us.

So, when Christ came to earth to teach us the way of salvation, His first command was 'to deny oneself', i.e., not to choose one's own will. If you don't deny yourself, you will never know God's will. And it is when you continually choose your own will that in no time you begin to commit fornication, adultery, lie, get angry, murder, etc. . .

In Catholic spirituality, therefore, the way to avoid all sins is to, always, prefer God's will over one's own will. And our preference for God's will is shown by our great desire to know, to  meditate and obey Christ's commands. 




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