The Interior Consequences of Original Sin (II.A)
In continuation of our latest topic started last week on Free Will and Original Sin, there are two major consequences of original sin – the fall of our first parents:
- Interior consequences – decreased awareness of God and concupiscence.
- Exterior consequences – increased antipathy between each person and God and between each person and others – as well as loss of the exemption from death.
This post will focus on the first of the two: The Interior Consequences of Original Sin.
When our first parents committed the first sin, and a partial separation from God occurred, they lost the self-control that came from their strong sense of God’s presence, sacredness, and goodness.
The weakening of their awareness of God led to an increased sensitivity to their sensual desires and passions. These sensual desires combined with egocentric desires, leading to a strong interest in power, material possessions, sexual indulgence, and self-assertion (concupiscence).
This increased interest in sensual and egotistical desires did not eliminate free will – or lead to a complete fall (corruption) of human nature. Human beings remain free to choose between sensual-ego desires and sacred-moral-empathetic desires.
Though the beauty, holiness, and lovability of God’s strong presence had diminished (allowing sensual and egotistical desires to grow more prominent to consciousness), God did not completely withdraw His presence from human beings.
His numinous and sacred presence was still influential – and His influence through conscience and empathy could still be felt. Indeed these influences still had more prominence than sensual and egotistical desires – though they were significantly weakened.
So, one might roughly say, human nature was still at least “51% good – and free will was still oriented at least 51% toward God and the good.”
The outcome of the fall did not pertain to the first parents alone. The consequences of their sin continued to affect their progeny – generation after generation. This had two additional effects:
- Our interior life was more subject to influence by the evil spirit – who, after the first sin, was able to deceive and tempt us more easily.
- The interior state of human beings became like that of a battleground – where we had to exert effort and concentration – and even fight to resist temptation and stay on the pathway to God and virtue.
Prior to the time of Jesus, the influence of the evil spirit had become so prominent that the vast majority of humanity was pressed into servitude and slavery, and the vision of the goodness of every human being was almost completely eclipsed.
There was a callous disregard for the sacredness and goodness of human life, and the mentality of the Roman Coliseum – where people delighted in the shedding of innocent blood – became commonplace. As Jesus put it, “Satan had become the prince of this world.”
Jesus saw his mission as driving out Satan from his place of prominence. He had a plan to do this – to give His life of unconditionally loving self-sacrifice, to give his teaching about his Father and the primacy of love, and to give His Holy Spirit to influence and encourage us interiorly and exteriorly:
Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself (Jn. 12: 31-32).
The sacrament of baptism – Christian initiation — would have two incredible effects.
First, it would incorporate us into the Church – the very mystical body of Christ – which would not only guide us through its teaching authority and the example of its saints, but would allow the salvific intention and virtue of all of its members to course through the spiritual veins of one another.
Secondly, it would give us the Holy Spirit with all of His gifts to inspire, guide and protect us – and to strengthen us interiorly to resist the temptation and deceit of the evil spirit and to help us contend with the effects of original sin.
Our next post will be on II.B: The Exterior Consequences of Sin.