Step One: We Admitted We Were Powerless

I do not understand my own actions, for I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. I can will what is right but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand, for I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God-Jesus Christ our Lord!

Romans 7:15, 18b-25a


ll of us have been born with a wound, a wound of sin which is passed on from generation to generation. St. Augustine (d. 430) noticed a mother nursing her newborn, while the other child looked on in a rage of jealousy. That child, maybe one or two years old, didn't know the word jealousy nor how to say it, but was experiencing it despite himself. This is a manifestation of that Original Sin found in all of us children of Adam and Eve. Christ came to heal this wound in our nature.


n the state of fallen nature, man is born both habitually and directly opposed to God, his supernatural end. With his will thus deprived of its order to good, man's intellect suffers the wound of ignorance; his sensitive appetites suffer the wound of weakness and concupiscence, for the intellect and will now lack the ability to direct and control them by what is reasonable, as St. Paul makes clear in the above quote from Romans. Practically speaking, we experience this when the good we want to do, and

The Wound of Sin

The natural perfection in which man was originally created was lost through the Fall of our first parents. Human nature itself was not corrupted by the Fall, nor were its natural powers impaired. The Church has condemned the extreme position taken by some Christians which holds that man's nature itself had become essentially corrupted and depraved by the Fall. As a consequence, they believe, all man's acts are evil. The Church, on the contrary, regards man as essentially good - his essential goodness

Jesus saves Peter who, relying on his
own strength, began to drown.

Al Brown: Photo

know we should do, we do not do, and the evil we don't want to do, and know we ought not to do, we do.

Self-Redemption - an Illusion

This is the situation, for example, with the addict, whether the addiction is food, drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, etc. How many times has an addictive personality determined to cut down or quit altogether only to find himself once again giving in, and thereby increasing the hold his addiction has over him? We all experience this to a greater or lesser extent: some with drinking, eating,

has not been destroyed by the Fall. Nevertheless, the Fall has left him wounded, with his inclination for goodness frustrated.

As a result of this wound, there is a certain disharmony in our nature. This disharmony is seen in:

  • a weakness of the will in the face of evil (called the wound of malice);
  • a great difficulty in acquiring truth (called the wound of ignorance);
  • a weakness of the irascible power-that power in us which seeks to overcome difficulties (called the wound of weakness);
  • a strong desire to satisfy our senses (called the wound of desire or concupiscence).

This wound in our nature does not mean that human nature has suffered any essential corruption as such. Rather, whatever belongs intrinsically to human nature has been left intact. Man has been wounded in his integral nature-that gift of integrity by which man's powers were united in perfect harmony. This unity has been severed by the Original Sin.

compulsive sexual behavior, etc. We experience not being in control of our lives; rather, other forces seem to control our will. The will has been weakened and we no longer possess the power, of ourselves, to overcome these problems. Try as we might, we cannot. No matter how much fasting we do or how many times we invoke God's help with our lips, there will be no relief for us until we, by ourselves, in our own minds and hearts, humble ourselves and acknowledge our powerlessness and become determined to surrender to His grace. God will help those who are willing to accept help.

Prior to becoming aware of our problem (whatever it may be), we tried everything we could to deny it or fix it. With just ourselves to fall back on, nothing worked. When we come to the realization that we do not possess the wherewithal to redeem ourselves, we are ready for Step One. We have no alternative but to admit that, left to our own efforts, our lives become unmanageable. This first step-admitting with St. Paul our powerlessness-is the foundation of our spiritual journey.


NEXT >>>

Copyright © 2014 Twelve Step Review.     All Rights Reserved.