In 2010, Bob Rice put together a list of six tips – six things you can work at – when you’re fighting the battle for sexual purity (something many of us have to do). If you prefer to watch them in a set of ridiculously awesome YouTube videos (see above), check out “Ben and Barbara’s six tips for Sexual Purity” which took Bob’s writings and made them into videos. Bob is a former youth minister and currently a professor of Catechetics at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. He spoke at the Holy Trinity Parish Youth Rally in 2011, and this six-part series is his advice on how to live up to God’s goal of purity. It’s still good advice, so I want you to read it and live it. I’ve also put together some further tips meant to encourage you in the battle against porn addiction, which you can read at www.thirdplaceproject.com/apersonfirst. Bob’s tips are:
This is part five of the series: “Mercy”.
“For God so loved the world that he sent his only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish, but have eternal life.”
If those words sound familiar it’s because it’s John 3:16, the most popular verse in the Bible. Why is it so popular? Because it captures the Good News, the message of salvation. For God did not send His Son into the world to judge the world, but so that through Him the world might be saved. (John 3:16-17)
Over and over, Scripture tells us of the mercy of God. The letter to Hebrews tells us:
Let us have no fear in approaching the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace when we are in need of help. (Hebrews 4:16)
Because as St. John wrote:
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
He not only forgives, but He purifies us. As it says in Psalm 103:
As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our faults from us.
And speaking through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord tells us:
Though your sins be like scarlet, they shall be white as snow. (Isaiah 1:18)
The Saints of the Church have long reflected on the incredible mercy of God. St. John Vianney said that, “Our sins are nothing but a grain of sand alongside the great mountain of the mercy of God.” And St. Francis de Sales said that anyone who thinks that God can’t forgive all and every sin is guilty of arrogance: “Where is the foolish person who would think it in his power to commit a sin more than God could forgive?”
The catechism tells us that:
There is no one, however wicked and guilty, who may not confidently hope for forgiveness, provided his repentance is honest. Christ who died for all men desires that in his Church the gates of forgiveness would always be open to anyone who turns away from sin. (CCC 982)
Are you getting the point?
Christ himself died once and for all for sins, the upright for the sake of the guilty, to lead us to God. (1 Peter 3:18)
There is no sin you can commit that God can’t forgive.
There is no sin you can commit that God doesn’t want to forgive. Because, as St. Augustine said, “God loves each one of us as though there were only one of us to be loved.” He didn’t die on the cross for us because He had to. It was because He wanted us. Because He loves us. And because wants to show us His mercy.
The very name of Jesus in Hebrew, Yeshua, is literally translated as “I Save”. It’s what He does. It’s what He wants to do. It’s what we need to let Him do in our lives when we fall into sin.
For all the tips and tricks you might hear about how to avoid sin, sexual or otherwise, at times you are still going to sin. Because you’re a sinner. And I’m a sinner. And God knows this… and He still loves us.
When we confess our sins and accept His grace, it purifies us and makes us stronger for the next battle. The devil would like to hit us with a one-two punch. The first is to lead us into sin, and the second (and more deadly) is to despair of His mercy.
For God so loved the world… For God so loves you, that He sent His only Son, so that through Him you won’t perish, but have eternal life. That’s a promise. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just. And we shall be white as snow.
Next blog: The final tip!
(Copyright 2010 www.bob-rice.com)