In the book of Genesis we see that at the beginning humans were created in the image of God, male and female. This image allowed them to reflect God’s character, His love, justice, mercy, grace and much more. Being in God’s image means that Adam and Eve where to image God into all of the earth. This is a supernatural grace that is given to accomplish all that it means to be made in God’s image. St. Thomas Aquinas calls it, “Original Righteousness.” He explains it like this, “Man was originally constituted by God in such a condition that his body was completely subject to his soul. The faculties of the soul were subject to reason without any rebelliousness and man was subject to God. In consequence of the perfect subjection of the body to the soul, no passion could arise in the body that would in anyway conflict with the soul’s dominion over the body. Therefore neither death nor illness had any place in man.”
In this original righteousness Adam and Eve were innocent and could neither die nor suffer as long as they did not sin
After creating humans God tells Adam and Eve that they are not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil. The tree was put there so that they could choose God by their own free-will, so that they would not be robots. (Robots by definition can’t love by a free-choice. For humans to truly love God they have to be able to choose it). The Tree has this name, not because it had the power to give knowledge about what is good and evil, but because if one were to eat of it they would learn through that experience the difference between the good of obedience and the evil of disobedience.
In Genesis 3, Satan tempts Eve to eat of the Tree by telling her that she will be like God knowing Good and Evil. Satan wants her to commit the same sin that he did. Is. 14:14 says this about Satan’s sin, “I will make myself like the Most High.” After his rebellion Satan was removed from the presence of God because of his pride. Pride became the cause of the removal of all supernatural grace that God had given Satan, thus leaving him in conflict with God forever. (Satan is in conflict with God with no chance or reconciliation because he is a pure spirit, i.e. no body, who had seen God in heaven in all His glory. His pride is eternal in time since he saw God in His glory and rejected it. As spirit he understood the reality of his choice completely and it eternally changed him with no hope of repentance.)
Eve listened to Satan and ate the fruit and then gave some to her husband who also ate. Just as the pride of Satan caused him to be removed from the supernatural grace of God, so the pride of Adam and Eve removed them from the supernatural grace that God had originally given them. This removal of grace from their lives is what caused all to go wrong and damaged relationships with themselves, with each other and mostly with God. That supernatural grace which allowed them to “walk with God” before they sinned was taken away. As a result Adam and Eve no longer had all their desires in order as God had originally created them. They now had disorder desires and passions. This meant that the soul no longer could control the body as it was intended and brought corruption to the will and to the human body. Sickness, death, broken relationships and selfish desires became the result. (Just read Gen. 4-11).
Original sin though does not mean that we are guilty for Adam and Eve’s sin, but we feel the effects. God said that a person is punished for their sins, not the sins of their father (look at Ez. 18). Thus we are not guilty of Adam’s original sin, i.e. God does not punish us for Adam’s sin. But the consequence that we feel is that the supernatural, special, grace that was in the Garden of Eden is not transmitted from generation to generation. And so for all time-that is, ever since the sin of the first parent all men come into the world bereft of Original Righteousness and are burdened with the defects that attend its loss. This is how we all have sinned through Adam as Romans 5:12 says, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.” Without Original Righteousness, God’s supernatural grace in the Garden we are prone to sin and commit sin, and face death and sickness and are desperately in need of a Savior. St. Thomas Aquinas puts it this way, “This is in no way against the order of justice (or fairness), as though God were punishing the sons for the crime of their first father. For the punishment in question is no more than the withdrawing of goods that were supernaturally granted by God to the first man for transmission, through him, to others. These others had no right to such goods, except so far as the gifts were to be passed on to them through their first parent. In the same way, a king may reward a soldier with the grant of an estate, which is to be handed on by him to his heirs. If the soldier then commits a crime against the king and so is adjudged to forfeit the estate, it cannot afterwards pass to his heirs. In this case the sons are justly dispossessed in consequence of their father’s crime.”
This is why it is called original sin, for the descendants of Adam are born without Original Righteousness because of the original sin of Adam. Our first parents infected their nature by sin and contaminated it and have passed on the consequences to us. The door to paradise was closed as Genesis 3 says, “After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side[e] of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.”
This sounds horrible, as it is, for the lack of God’s supernatural grace, is why sin runs through the world. God though in His love did not leave us there, for He created us to know Him, to experience His love and to be with Him for eternity. God gives us His grace back through faith to undo the lack that occurred in the Garden and has reopened the door of paradise through Jesus. We become as close to God as we let His grace rule our souls and lives. God works to remove what lacks because of Adam’s disobedience as we practice the virtues of God in our lives through His grace. This side of eternity we will never be fully able to get our passions, desires and our wills under full control… but through God’s grace we can start the process here on earth and live in fuller communion with God as was originally planned. We will however, with our resurrected bodies walk’ with God like Adam and Eve did at first and completely fulfill our created purpose.
Sloths are animals that are well known for not doing much. Their name literally means, ‘slow feet’, which makes perfect sense because they are the world’s slowest animal. They live in trees most of their life and don’t move around much, and only leave their tree to go to the bathroom (defecate) once a week.
This is the same idea that the Bible uses when it calls sloth a sin. It is a sin that has been around for a long time, The Bible puts it this way, “Through slothfulness the roof deteriorates, and a house leaks because of idleness.,” (Ecc. 10:18) “As the door turns upon his hinges, so does the slothful upon his bed,” (Pro. 26:14) And lastly “The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven wise men,” (Pro. 26:16).
Sloth is a sin of omission, of not doing something or willing to exert oneself and avoids moving toward the good that God has ordered us. A few examples that Peter Kreeft gives are: “not jumping into a pool to save a baby from drowning. Not getting out of our warm, comfortable bed on a cold morning to go to Church, Or not inquiring of God what He wants you to do. Or not inquiring whether or not God even exists.”
Sloth is a greater problem in our more advanced, complex, culture than in Bible times. Sloth reigns in our world even as we are over programmed and scheduled, which has reduced our leisure and free-time which is necessary to seek the ways of God. This seems like a paradox, as being busy, having a full schedule and doing things seems the opposite of being full of sloth. Sloth, especially in Biblical language, is more than just being a lazy person who doesn’t physically work. (It can a lazy person who does not get out of bed to work, but slothfulness goes deeper than that). F.P. Harton says, “For a person can be very active externally and at the same time extremely slothful in spirit.” (The Elements of the Spiritual Life).
There are four areas (maybe more) of in which one can be slothful:
1) Bodily sloth, which is obvious… not working or getting up to do physical work that needs to get done. Not working or holding a job to provide for your family just because you don’t want to.
2) There is intellectual sloth where people do not take the time to think. Where opinions are more popular that fact. In our culture we see it that most people’s opinions are based on hearsay or popular opinion… especially about Christianity.
a. This form of sloth is produced from our cultures emphasis and the need to be entertained… through social media, youtube, movies etc.
b. Our culture does not think or reason as much… for a culture is only as deep and intelligent about real problems from where it gets its information
c. If we are fine with 30 sec sound bites then that is how deep we are
3) Moral sloth is the idea that one does not face moral decisions but desires to take the path of least resistance. This is true of our relativistic culture which does not want any moral decisions and blurs the lines of all ethical choices.
a. For Christians it is avoiding the moral choices that God has set up and standing for God’s truth. They excuse themselves from taking Christian ethics a part of life and something to stand firm upon
b. They are willing to give into the cultures view of sexuality… standing with the culture on its view of homosexuality, marriage, divorce, sex, pornography and more instead of seeing God’s purpose for the family
c. Sex has become a substitute for God… as one lacks God’s joy they seek to fill it and our culture is trying to do so through sex
d. We don’t want to stand for truth and potentially cause waves… but that is moral sloth
e. Under this area a slothful person will never face a final, moral, issue if they can help it, because it is too uncomfortable for them
4) The last, and worst is spiritual. It is one becomes lazy to the ways of God and is deeper than just not taking a moral stand for God. This takes the spiritual life and sets it adrift and doesn’t care where it lands or what becomes of it. The soul is restless because it is not pursuing its creator and leaves it empty
a. This makes one bored, and never is there a culture that has been more bored… they lose interest in the most important things and focus on temporal things. This is why one can be busy with work, with hobbies, with friends and still have the worst type of sloth in their lives
b. It is rejecting the presence of God in their life and refusing the joy of love that God wants to give to each of us… this leaves us feeling empty and unhappy
i. One of the greatest forms of filling this emptiness is lust. Lust is the favorite sin of our culture. Our culture though does not even think it is a sin anymore and often calls it a virtue. Just look at ads, magazines, the porn industry. You can’t watch a movie or TV show without sexual innuendoes, lustful comments or even directly degrading sexual statements. Lust though destroys, it destroys families, relationships, our society and it destroys the soul, like an addiction. Its main source, sloth, for as one is bored they fill it, not with what is good but with what is easy and very accessible. Its cure is real passion and joy, the joy and passion that God created us for… to KNOW HIM!!! Saints are not addicted to lust as they know that there is something more exciting, something that is worthy more… God Himself, the Great I AM. Saints know God and thus don’t lust after things of this world.
c. Being slothful in this sense opens one up to many negative aspects spiritually. When one is empty spiritually because they are not following or pursuing or even inquiring whether God exists, they start to hate the things of God, such as His truth, goodness, beauty and holiness. When one is empty they must fill it with something, but whatever it is filled with is not going to satisfy. It could be porn, drugs, work, home projects…
d. Spiritual sloth is avoiding the virtues that God wants for us, such as justice, temperance, courage and wisdom. Absence of these in ones life is the dislike and loathing of the divine good God wants for us… which sounds a lot like Hell.
e. Our culture does not want the virtues of God or His way of life. They are content with living a life that does not demand much from them, but this leaves them empty and makes them fight against the things of God, the concepts found in the Bible. Jesus said it this way, “The Light has come into the world and men loved darkness rather than light.”
Slothfulness or idleness is the enemy of the soul and we must do what we can to avoid it. Seek God and his ways. We need spiritual, mental and physical work so the soul does not become soft and slothful and drift away. Pray that God motivates you so you don’t give into our cultures view of morality, that you would seek His virtues and desire to be Spiritual strong instead of weak.