We are the cause of all our own grief.
1 Although God does not convert certain sinners to Himself, but leaves them in their sins according to their merits, He does not lead them into sinful action.
2 In fact, men sin because they turn away from Him Who is their ultimate end, as is evident from our earlier statements. But, when every agent acts for an end that is proper and suitable to it, it is impossible by the action of God for any of them to be turned away from the ultimate end, Who is God. So, it is impossible for God to cause any persons to sin.
3 Again, good cannot be the cause of evil. But sin is an evil for man, since it is opposed to man’s proper good which is to live in accord with reason. Therefore, it is impossible for God to be the cause of sinful action for anyone.
4 Besides, all wisdom and goodness in man are derived from the wisdom and goodness of God, as a certain likeness of Him. But it is incompatible with human wisdom and goodness to cause anyone to sin; much more, then, is it incompatible with these divine qualities.
5 Moreover, every sin stems from a defect in the proximate agent, and not from the influence of the primary agent: as the defect of limping results from the condition of the leg bone and not from the motor power, for, in fact, whatever perfection of motion is apparent in the act of limping, it is due to this power. But the proximate agent of human sin is the will. Therefore, the defect of sin comes from the will of man and not from God Who is the primary agent; from Him, however, comes whatever pertains to perfection of action in the sinful act.
Notes Sobering to consider that it is your will, and your will alone, that brings sin. Whatever excuses we allow ourselves, they’ll never fly when we stand in judgment. Develop good habits.
6 Hence, it is said in Sirach (15:12): “Say not: He caused me to err. For He has no need of wicked men.” And later: “He commanded no man to act wickedly, and He has given no man license to sin” (Sirach 15:,21). And in James (1:13) it is said: “Let no man, when he is tempted, say that he is tempted by God: for God is not a tempter of evils.”
Notes Sirach, also known as the Book of Ecclesiasticus, has been purged by some protesting Christians. It can be read on line.
7 However, some passages are found in Scripture, from which it seems that God is the cause of sinning for certain men. Indeed, it is said in Exodus (10:1) : “I have hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and the heart of his servants”; and in Isaiah (6:10): “Blind the heart of this people, and make their ears heavy… lest they see with their eyes… and be converted, and I heal them”; and in Isaiah (63:17): “You made us err from Your ways; You have hardened our heart, lest we fear You.” Again, in Romans (1:28) it is said: “God delivered them up to a reprobate sense, to do those things which are not convenient.” All these texts are to be understood in this way: God does not grant to some people His help in avoiding sin, while to others He does grant it.
Notes Do quail at this interpretation, for we use it all the time. For instance, you see a bad person crossing a street with a trunk barreling toward him, and you do not warn him.
8 Moreover, this help is not only the infusing of grace, but also external guardianship, whereby the occasions of sinning are taken away from man by divine providence and whereby provocations to sin are suppressed. God also helps man in opposing sin by the natural light of reason and by the other natural goods which He accords man. So, when He takes away these aids from some, according to the merit of their action, as His justice demands, He is said to harden or to blind them, or to do any of the other things mentioned.