St. Francis de Sales explains the best way to prevent ourselves from falling into temptation.
It’s often difficult to break free from a bad habit that leads us down the dark path of sin. Every day we resolve to do better and sincerely want to improve our lives, but each time we fall and find ourselves committing the same sin over and over again.
How can we get out of this dangerous rut and into the freedom experienced by living in communion with God?
St. Francis de Sales in his Introduction to the Devout Life explains that if we want to lessen the hold particular sins have on us, we need to trace the root causes that lead us to sin. All of us have our weaknesses, and it should be fairly easy to understand what it is that leads us in a certain direction.
These inclinations, my child, are in direct opposition to devotion…they weaken the mental power, hinder Divine consolations, and open the door to temptations; and although they may not destroy the soul, at least they bring on very serious disease.
De Sales uses a few different analogies to describe how our inclinations to sin can entrap us over time. They initially may not lead to sin, but if we do not watch ourselves, we will find ourselves in a dangerous place for our soul.
The spider cannot kill bees, but it can spoil their honey, and so encumber their combs with its webs in course of time, as to hinder the bees materially … A trifling inaccuracy, a little hastiness in word or action, some small excess in mirth, in dress, in gaiety, may not be very important, if these are forthwith heeded and swept out as spiritual cobwebs;–but if they are permitted to linger in the heart, or, worse still, if we take pleasure in them and indulge them, our honey will soon be spoilt, and the hive of our conscience will be cumbered and damaged.
If you want to experience true freedom, think over your bad habits and discover what leads you to commit them over and over again. Sometimes it could be talking with a particular person or viewing a website that takes us down the wrong path. Other times it could be the drive we take home from work that sparks within us a temptation that we can’t resist.
Whatever it is, if we want to break free, sometimes we have to go out of our way to avoid certain things until we have the confidence and strength to resist them in the future.
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