All our actions follow from the decisive choices we make between good and evil. We are given a spirit that guides us to choose what is good but our defiled heart is prone to do what is evil, manipulated by the senses. “The spirit is willing, but the body (heart) is weak” (NIV Mt 26:41b).

Thus, one may succumb to the palate’s craving and choose to be a glutton only to suffer stomach upsets, but still refuse to listen to the spirit that says, “Enough, stop eating!” Again, one may ignore conscience and despise one’s own father, driven by the heart’s pride.

These wrong choices are sins and could be thoughts, words, actions or inactions and the defilement that drives us to commit them is vice or sinfulness. This is the process of falling into sin―once we allow pride to gain entry into our hearts we become interiorly defiled. This defilement causes us to suffer from sinful urge and we are helpless against temptations and despite desiring good end up sinning against our own will.

“I have been sold as a slave to sin. I cannot understand my own behavior. I fail to carry out the things I want to do, and I find myself doing the very things I hate. When I act against my own will, that means I have a self that acknowledges that the Law is good, and so the thing behaving in that way is not my self but sin living in me” (JB Rom 7:14b-17).

Just as it takes two hands to produce a clap, it takes two forces to commit a sin. An external temptation pulls us while an internal sinful urge pushes us and we fall into the quagmire called sin.

Pride has inflicted these twin damages on our beings: our minds have been rendered confused and wavering while our hearts have become corrupt. The corrupted heart craves for sensual pleasures. The wavering mind is torn between our spirit and our heart, and Satan is able to manipulate our heart through the senses. Thus, the spirit’s good counsel is more often than not, overruled by the carnal craving of the heart.

Knowing about the perils of carnal pleasures is not sufficient as we are already under the power of sin and it is impossible to break-free on our own. How do I benefit from knowledge? For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out (NIV Rom 7:18cd).

Our free will is no longer free, as the decision of the mind, though based on truth supplied by our spirit, is often overruled by our corrupted heart. A wavering mind, that allows a disobedient heart to do its whim rather than the true will, is nothing short of slavery to evil.

After pondering much over this, I understood that the heart can be freed from slavery to the senses only by God’s grace, which in turn is gained by surrendering our free will and accepting the most supreme will of God. We go through a great struggle as Satan who all along seduced our heart to disobey our mind now tries a new trick by provoking our mind to assert its freedom and not surrender to God’s will. We may overcome this inner struggle by reasoning in our God given mind to clearly deduce that:

  • our helplessness against carnal urges is not hopelessness, as it is possible to surrender our free will to God and forfeit the freedom to will and let God be the sovereign Lord who gives us grace
  • surrender for gaining grace is not slavery; on the contrary, spirit overcoming the flesh is true freedom and is truly possible with God given grace
  • surrendering to God gives true freedom; it is strange but true
  • Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it (NIV Lk 17:33).
  • Grace is the Divine Power that enables aligning free will to the ever prevailing God’s Will and is freely given to those who surrender to Him
  • Those who surrender thus are the elect who are taunted most by Satan to reclaim their surrendered free will
  • The surrendered elect can be clearly recognized in the lives of many: Mother Mary, Lord Jesus, Apostle Paul, Ignatius of Loyola, Francis of Assisi, ...
  • The surrendered elect do not worry about weaknesses if any: Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses. (NIV 2Cor 12:9d)
  • Freedom from vices if any and growing to perfection in virtues is accomplished in them by grace: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”. (NIV 2Cor 12:9bc)
  • Heaven is a matter of firm choice made by a free will that does not lose its freedom to sensuality or adversity but remains steadfast to the end against all odds.
  • False freedom does what is pleasing to the senses, only to regret after it is too late; true freedom obeys God without minding troubles, only to reap eternal joy in the end.
  • Surrendering free will to God is actually like placing it in God’s loving care because of our helplessness in preserving its true freedom
  • Do not possess anything that can hinder you or rob you of freedom. Be resigned to My will and you will suffer no loss. (IoC III:27)

God does not take away freedom but enables us to preserve it even as the going gets tougher. Recall the Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane when our Lord remained steadfast in adversity: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (NIV Lk 22:42).