72 • Part I. The Creed: The Faith Professed
we grasp that sin is an abuse of the freedom that God gives to created
persons” (CCC, no. 387).
Connected with this is the popular notion or attitude of self-help.
According to this attitude, all we need to do is fill the mind with lots of
inspirational knowledge and reach out for insights. In this viewpoint, we
are able to resolve all our shortfalls by ourselves. But sin is not a weak-
ness we can overcome by our own effort. It is a condition from which we
need to be saved. Jesus is our Savior.
Central to our journey of faith is the awareness of forces within us
that oppose each other and cause us conflict. One drive flows from our
being created in the image of God, with all the gifts and abilities that
brings. The other force results from the effects of Original Sin, which can
cause us to act with selfishness and malice. In his Letter to the Romans,
St. Paul describes his own experience of this conflict: “What I do, I do
not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate. . . .
For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want” (Rom
7:15, 19). He had actually met the Risen Lord Jesus in an extraordinary
vision on the Damascus Road and later saw eternal glory itself (cf. 2 Cor
12:2). But he still experienced the inner war within his soul caused by
the aftereffects of Original Sin. In maddening frustration, he cried out,
“Miserable one that I am! Who will deliver me from this mortal body?”
(Rom 7:24). It was his faith that “where sin increased, grace overflowed
all the more” (Rom 5:20).
No matter how sinful we human beings become, the desire for God
never dies while we are on earth. No matter how holy we grow, the
sting of evil always gnaws at us from the effects of Original Sin. St. Paul
shared with us his spiritual struggle on the journey to holiness. He gives
us courage. In Jesus Christ, we can overcome the power of sin, for it is
the Lord’s desire that all come to salvation.
1. When you hear yourself described as being created in the image of
God, what comes to your mind? What would help you perceive that
being made in God’s image encourages you to do good things? How
should a person created in God’s image live?