Evil Comes from Within not from Without

I’ve been having to confront my own nature a lot, all of my flaws and struggles. I’ve come to realize that when I changed from Protestant to Catholic, I overcorrected. I went from a concept of total depravity to totally immaculate. But in actuality, my heart, my nature, is flawed, not by God’s doing, but by the original fall. Jesus himself says that it is from the depths of my heart that sins come:

For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man.

St. Mark 7:21-23

My heart is a great source of evil. Yet I know that it is also the greatest reflection of God’s love. It is capable of choosing: choosing whether or not to love God. And so, while great sin comes from my heart, I am capable of choosing to love God, of casting out the evil that comes from within. I have to realize, too, that it is not the evil from without that causes me to be evil, but that it is the evil from within that causes me to do evil things. It is not eating a lot of food that makes me a glutton, but the gluttony that makes me eat a lot of food. It is not the secrets and rumors that I spread that cause me to be a gossip, but it is the gossip within that causes me to spread secrets and rumors. We can fight the sinful behaviors all that we want, but the real struggle takes place within our hearts. We must allow Christ access to start crucifying all of our fleshy desires. We must air our hearts out, hang them up to dry in a desert of prayer that it may become sanctified.  We must become aware of the stirrings in our heart, both the good and the bad and learn to choose the good and to reject the bad.