And how, pray tell, is this "stain" removed?
By filling in what was missing: justice/righteousness.
A person who is unrighteous is missing righteousness/justice. Justice is not a part of his makeup. It's not in his nature.
With apologies to Keith Green, the Bible doesn't describe regeneration as having "love poured into your heart", but as our being crucified with Christ and being raised to new life in Him, our old, carnal nature discarded, and a new, spiritual nature given.
I don't know who Keith Green is, but the old carnal nature was our nature when it was missing righteousness/justice and the new, spiritual nature is that we now have righteousness/justice in us - being provided to us as a continuous gift of the Spirit, now indwelling, as the benefit of being a member in Christ.
This justice that we are receiving includes the gift of love as a fruit of the Spirit. With love in you, you do not harm others. Love does no harm to others, so it is the fulfillment of the law. It automatically fulfills the righteous requirements. Love makes you just.
Since God is love, it is God's nature to be loving. In being given love in our hearts, we are being made partakers/sharers in God's own nature.
So long, of course, as you live by the love that the Spirit is providing you. If you cut yourself off from this love in you, you spiritually die and are back to being unrighteous by nature.
So, if this is true, then why do Catholics have to keep going to confession to have their sins forgiven?
Confession is required after a mortal sin. A mortal sin is defined as a sin by which you completely cut yourself off from love so that it died in you. ("mortal sin destroys the charity in you"). (if you commit a sin, and after doing it you realize that you have no love in you anymore, this will tell you that it was a mortal sin (love=God's life in you)) (if love is weakened but it still there, then it wasn't mortal).
If you have no love, then you have no spiritual life from the Spirit. You cannot be reborn, but you receive new life and be revivified if you confess to God. God is merciful to forgive and give you life (and his life in you is felt as justice and love coming into you).
What about those Catholics who continue to have a heart of stone, and do not show love, such as many of your fellow Catholics here on CARM?
If they have a heart of stone, then they are spiritually dead.
That said, I doubt they have hearts of stone.
Sorry, but not what the Bible says. The Bible says we're made children of God by adoption, when we are born again, not when we have some mystical, esoteric experience of "God pouring love in your heart".
Yes, by adoption and by being born again. But being a child of God is by being made a sharer in God's own nature. God is love. God is also by nature just. That nature is love/justice.
So, if you transgress God's laws with loving intent, that's righteous?
Uzzah acted out of what he considered to be love for God. God killed him for acting unrighteously.
Well, that's been the history of the world, hasn't it? People deluded into thinking evil deeds are good, or for the greater good. The idea that the ends justify the means. The idea that their evil deeds are sanctioned by God.
It's not a matter of intellectually deciding what we think is love and doing it. We need to be actually moved by love in doing things. People who kill others "for the love of God" are clearly not loving the people they are killing. As John says, you cannot say you love God if you hate your brother.
Ah, there it is. So, it is by the way we live that we are just and righteous?
No. It is being just/righteous/loving by nature that makes you live justly and righteously.
A good tree produces good fruit.
That is precisely the opposite of what the Bible says, that we are incapable of justifying ourselves or being righteous. That is the whole point of Christ's atonement on our behalf, and our having to be born again.
Council of Trent: the epicenter of Catholic teaching on justification is this:
the sole/only reason (formal cause) that God considers us as being just/righteous...is by the justice and love that the Spirit puts in us
, merited by Christ for us, and received on our becoming as a branch on the Vine of Christ
That's not what the Bible says. Romans says that original sin is man's default state as the result of the First Adam's sin. While it may result in not having love, and having a heart of stone, that is not the definition of original sin.
Not sure that's different. The "default state" is the state of having no love or justice, which is what it means to have a heart of stone.
It is not the eating of the apple that was the original sin. It was the result of cutting himself off from God in order to eat the apple. He was left with no love/justice. He died that day. Spiritually dead. And he passed this condition to all his progeny, so that we are now born with hearts of stone. And people with hearts of stone are by nature prone to turn on each other in a dog-eat-dog world committing sins. So by one man, the many were made sinners.
But by one man, Jesus, the many can now be made righteous - by Christ putting justice and love back into our hearts through the Spirit. The Second Adam.
Incidentally, when the Bible talks about having a heart of stone, it's not talking about an absence of love, but being in a state of enmity with God.
A heart of stone has no love or compassion or kindness. It is hard as a rock. Such a heart does uncaring, unkind things. These things are unrighteous, which cause God's wrath.
That's an interesting analogy. I happen to be a woodworker and even owned a furniture company for a couple of years. I'd be really curious to know what you think the table has to do to remove this gouge.
The table can do nothing.
Except receive a new coat of varnish from the woodworker.