To stop sinning is very hard as we all know mostly because, like I said, our desire to stop sinning sadly isn’t really a true desire. When we still desire to sin, we still don’t truly love God. And the lack of faith we suffer from is because of many reasons. We still love sin and lack of true belief in our need to change because we don’t really understand the truth. If we really understood the consequence of sin upon us and Our Creator, we would flee from it with ALL of our strength.
Wonderfully however, once we loose all desire to sin, our sins no longer offend Our Beloved Lord, because our love has become a true wonderful love which heals all. Then our sins, the moment they are committed, are instantly forgiven and forgotten. This is the entire purpose for seeking to rid all of our sins to gain a true desire to sin no more–to gain true love for God–so everything we do is for love of God–not love of self. Then after we advance to this step in our spiritual life, we can work our way and grow towards perfection (not being able to sin) and become perfectly united with God, like Saint Thérèse of Lisieux.
“If we have died with Him [killed sin in our lives] we shall also live with him, if we persevere [in running from sin] we shall also reign with him. But if we deny him [because we prefer any sin] he will deny us [since we rejected his love from our desire for sin]” (2 Timothy 2:11-12).
In this article, I can’t go into depth too much about how we can increase our desire to change above what is on this web-site since it can be quite involved due to the depth of this topic and the vast ways we can seek out God’s grace for His mercy. However, Lifting Our Values has a book “How to Obtain Perfect Contrition” and it’s “Meditations on Christ’s Passion” that can help us along with countless books written by the saints. However, I will give a list of motives most of us have for seeking to take upon the challenging task of perusing Eternal Life–stopping our sins (seeking God’s will).
Main reasons souls finally open up their souls and are moved enough to work wholeheartedly to repent and change:
Became seriously sick and pondered if we died where we would spend eternity based on the life choices we have made.
Had someone we love die and saw how short life is and began to contemplate if we merited Heaven from our life choices.
Became in great need and wanted God’s help but we knew our little faith would receive little help or understood God turned His face (we lost His help) from our willfully abandonment of the faith by choosing to live a life opposed to God’s commands.
Suffered an incredible cross in which we chose to trust in God and found the truth.
Lost some of our blindness and obtained incite to some of our true misery (sinfulness) and saw how greatly sinful we really are which needed to change if we were to truly love God.
Gained knowledge of the true faith and came to understand we aren’t really saved by the little faith we do have.
Felt God’s love from His healing, and help or by seeing His passion and death, etc. and we wanted to return His love by truly living to love Him in return.
Grew in faith and began to see the incredible understanding, love and patience God has for us as He tries to show us the Way and finally realized we weren’t really living to love God above all nor to desire Him alone.
Saw the injury we are continuously causing God by our sinfulness and wanted to stop hurting the One we should be loving.
As you can see the first five reasons to repent and change are based upon fear of punishment and the last three are based on love of God. Sadly, most don’t really take stopping our sinful ways seriously because of love for God, since we don’t have a strong enough of a relationship with God because of the very sins we need to amend. We might feel somewhat sad about our sins because we don’t want to offend God to a certain degree, but we are far from having true contrition as our lack of amending our ways proves. Most of us need a boost to open up our souls to hear God and that is done with the cross. Some people will need to suffer multiple crosses (many of those reasons) before we can loose our pride to really hear God calling us so to take the risk and exert the effort to repent and change. But when we do finally hear, for many it is a life changing experience, and if we continue, and not fall lukewarm again and forget our calling, then we can proceed to Eternal Life.
“Thousands seek Him only when all else has failed, and must be driven into the Arms which all day long are opened to welcome them with such ineffable tenderness” (Jesus to St. Gertrude the Great).
Like I said, most will change because we don’t want to suffer on earth, in purgatory or Hell and from those self-seeking motives will peruse the very difficult task of leaving the world and all of our sinful habits to peruse a saving faith. Wonderfully though, as we gain more and more grace from our continuous removal of sin, we will begin to see and understand God’s fantastic love for us more clearly, and that selfish motive to change will begin to dwindle away and a desire to change our entire life to truly love God will take over.
But we must understand, to begin this journey to stop sinning correctly, there absolutely must be some intense driving motive, well rooted, or it will end like any failed diet. If we want Eternal Life, we need to be willing to suffer, sacrifice and deny ourselves of pleasure to obtain the crown of Life that is waiting for those who truly love God, and to do this takes a real true driving burning motive to get started if we are to grow into a true faith that burns to love God for the sake of love alone.
If you feel you need more information or inspiration on how to gain a greater desire to change, please read the saints works like St. Alphonosus’ “The Way of Perfection and Salvation” or St. Peter of Alcantara who has a treatise on prayers and meditations designed “with the purpose to establish in our hearts the love and the fear of God and fidelity to His commandments…[which will help produce] the fear of God and contrition and hatred of sin.” The saints works are wonderful and can greatly help. Also, I have gone into much greater depth in the Lifting Our Values book “How to Obtain Perfect Contrition” and it’s complement book “Meditations on the Passion of Christ.” These two books should help us obtain a greater fire of desire to change as well. But even if you have just a little spark, that spark can be kindled into a great burning desire for God. If you grow and start to burn more intensely, but something happens and you loose much of that fire don’t let it burn completely out, get back up again…work to build that fire into a blaze of love. Give it time…keep on seeking the truth. God wants you saved.
One of the reasons we don’t seek to amend our life is many have been misled and think they can never stop sinning which makes it very hard to strive wholeheartedly to truly obey God if we think the goal of perfect obedience isn’t even possible. But it is. Unlike popular thinking, we most certainly can stop sinning just like St. Therese of the Child Jesus (St. Therese de Lisieux) did. She describes the day she became full of grace (full of God’s love-unable to choose sin) in her biography as she says: “From that day I have been penetrated and surrounded with love. Every moment this Merciful Love renews me and purifies me, leaving in my soul no trace of sin” (St. Therese of Lisieux).
This life of perfect obedience isn’t just for “saints.” Actually it is just for saints…but God calls ALL of us to be saints. Not just some other “chosen” people we read about. If we want to be in Heaven with the saints, we need to sincerely make that our life’s goal. Being a saint isn’t some unreachable goal. Becoming a saint ins’t even becoming perfect, it is simply becoming a person who has true sorrow for all of their sins and has grown so much in love with God that their love has atoned for their sins taking away the punishment that is due from all sin committed after baptism. Being a saint is God’s calling for all of us who desire Eternal Life. Truly, you and me are “called to be saints” (1 Corinthians 1:2). If we love God and want to obey Him we most certainly will burn to be one of His saints, making that our daily goal. Sure some people are called to do greater works than others but literally ALL of us are called to sanctity. Only saints go to Heaven. And how is that going to happen if we don’t work hard to stop sinning…we must make our daily working goal–perfection–just like God has commanded of us “from now on sin no more” (John 8:11). It is possible! If we love God, we will wholeheartedly strive to perfectly obey Him.
Therefore, in accord with St. Bonaventure who teaches, “whoever wishes to ascend to God must first avoid sin.” We too, if we want to spend eternity with God, need to truly find Him on earth and that is done by ridding sin from our lives. Many of us are tying to find God, but we only have a taste of Him because we are going about it all wrong and haven’t made amending every sin our hearts desire. But if you can hear and want to stop sinning this article will hopefully help you do just that.