When Temptation Becomes Sin

Cardinal Manning says: “However much you may be tempted, whether it be to deadly sins or to lighter, it matters not, those temptations will never be imputed to you as sins, unless you willingly consent to them.”

“When we are out in the sun, we feel the warmth by no act of our own. If the wind blows cold, we feel chilled by no act of our own will. All round about us, and all the day long the images of the world fill the eye. . . . Though we see a thousand, we can only look at one: and that one we look at by the act of our will; but all the rest simply fall upon our passive sight. . . . All these are what I may call indeliberate acts. There is no action of the will in them: and we can no more hinder ourselves from seeing and hearing than from being hot or cold.”

The will is “the rational appetite of the soul. It is the desire we have in us guided by reason, choosing and determining what we shall pursue. But round about the will there is first of all a circle of affections, which, as God created them, were all pure. Round about the affections are the passions, which, as sin has wounded them, are all of them somewhat in disorder; and round about the passions are the senses—sight and hearing, taste and touch—these are the inlets through which sin gains entrance. . . . Satan has no power at all to enter into the soul against our will.”

“The way to distinguish between what is temptation and what is sin is to ask yourselves, do you welcome it? Do you open the door? Do you throw up the window? Do you invite it to come in and dwell?”

“Another certain test whether it is temptation or sin is this: does the presence of the temptation give you pleasure, or pain? Do you feel rather gratified by being stirred up to a sense of resentment, or does it give you a sensible pain that you have lost your calmness? If you have a sensible pleasure in it, then most assuredly you have been consenting; if it gives you pain, then as certainly it is contrary to your will.”

Quotations from Henry Edward Manning, Sin and Its Consequences, 2d ed. (London: Burns and Oates, 1874).

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