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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?