The Delusions of Sinners

“God is merciful.” Who denies this? Yet, nevertheless how many does not God daily send to hell! God shows mercy; but to whom? His mercy is towards them that fear him.


The sinner says, “God is merciful.” Behold the third very common delusion of sinners, by which great numbers are lost. A learned author declares that the mercy of God sends more souls to hell than His justice; because these unhappy ones, confiding rashly in God’s mercy, continue in sin, and are thus lost. God is merciful. Who denies it? Nevertheless how many does He daily send to hell! He is merciful; but He is also just, and He is therefore obliged to punish those who offend Him. He shows mercy; but to whom? To him that fears Him: His mercy is towards them that fear him. The Lord hath compassion on them that fear him. (Ps. cii. 11, 18). But as for those who despise Him, and abuse His mercy only to despise Him the more, He exercises justice in their regard. And with reason. God pardons the sin, but He cannot pardon the determination to sin. St. Augustine says that he who sins with the intention of repenting afterwards, is not a penitent but a mocker of God. On the other hand, the Apostle tells us that God will not be mocked: Be not deceived: God is not mocked. (Gal. vi. 7). It would be mocking God to offend Him as we please and when we please, and then to expect Heaven.

My crucified Jesus, my Redeemer and my God, behold a traitor at Thy feet! I am ashamed to appear before Thee. How often have I mocked Thee, how often have I promised never more to offend Thee! But my promises have all been treacherous; since, when the occasion presented itself, I forgot Thee, and again turned my back on Thee. I thank Thee that my abode at this moment is not in hell; but that Thou permittest me to be at Thy feet instead, and enlightenest me, and callest me to Thy love. Yes, I am resolved to love Thee, my Saviour and my God, and never more to despise Thee. Thou hast borne with me long enough. I perceive that Thou canst bear with me no longer. Unhappy me, if after so many graces I should offend Thee again!


“But as God has hitherto shown me so many mercies, and has not punished me, so I hope He will show me mercy in future.” Behold another delusion. Because, then, God has had compassion on you, therefore is He always to show compassion to you, and never to chastise you? On the contrary, the greater the mercies He has shown you have been, so much the more ought you to tremble lest He should pardon you no more, and chastise you if you offend Him again. Say not, I have sinned, and what harm hath befallen me? For the Most High is a patient rewarder (Ecclus. v. 4); I have sinned, and have not been punished; for God is patient, but He does not endure for ever. When the limit fixed by Him for the mercies He intends to show a sinner is attained, He then punishes all his sins together. And the longer He has waited for his repentance, so much the more severe will be his punishment; as says St. Gregory: “Those whom He waits for the longest, He punishes the most severely.”

If, then, you perceive that you have often offended God, and God has not cast you into hell, you must say: The mercies of the Lord that we are not consumed. (Lam. iii. 22). Lord, I thank Thee that Thou hast not sent me to hell, as I deserved. Consider how many have been condemned for less sins than you have committed; and remembering this, endeavour to atone for your offences against God by penance and other good works. The patience that God has had with you ought to animate you not to displease Him still more; but to love and serve Him better than you have done; considering that He has shown you so many mercies, which He has not shown to others.

Lord, I resolutely determine to change my life, and to love Thee as much as I have offended Thee. I rejoice that I have to deal with infinite goodness such as Thine. I repent above all things of having despised Thee as I have done, and I promise Thee all my love in future. Pardon me through the merits of Thy Passion; forget the injuries I have done Thee; and give me strength to be faithful to Thee during the remainder of my life. I love Thee, O my Sovereign Good; and I hope to love Thee always. My dear Lord, I will leave Thee no more. O Mary, Mother of God, bind me to Jesus Christ; and obtain for me the grace never again to depart from His feet. In thee I confide.

(Monday Meditation for the Third Week of Lent – by St Alphonsus Liguori)

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1 Response to The Delusions of Sinners

  1. Mercy – can it be a delusion? Well, we have a famous example of someone who uses that word and often behaves in ways that are anything but merciful.


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