Thursday, 8 March 2018

The Nature of Sin

It's not often in this Blog that we engage in intellectual, theological, philosophical or any other ending discussion. So let's change that and talk about something we are all expert on - - - SIN.

What is sin? Why do we do it? Is it because it is pleasurable in some form or another? Or are we somehow pre-programmed to do it?

The Bible tells us that sin is something that upsets God. It is against His will for us, and hurts His love for us.

I guess the first sin was when the angel Lucifer rebelled against God. The second sin was when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit.

We are told that as a result of Adam and Eve's sin we are all born in sin and we have to struggle and toil for all our lives and suffer death.

I'm not sure I buy that. Why is it that I have to take the blame for someone else's sin? I wasn't even there at the time; and had I been there I would have probably dissuaded them from listening to the snake and advised them to enjoy their nakedness instead.

But anyway ... now all those years later we have sin. There are of course small sins, like telling a little lie every now and then, or eating too many cakes, or in my case ginger marmalade. And there are really big sins like adultery, robbing a bank and murder.

The Catholic Church, to help (or confuse) matters further, have described sins as venial sins and mortal sins. I say to confuse matters further because today many Catholics cannot distinguish venial from mortal sins; and they consider very serious sins as being ... well, quaint weaknesses really!

According to the Catholic Church venial sins are the small ones which you can ask God to forgive in your prayers and you're OK. No need to go to regular Confession for these, (so we've been told by our church).

Mortal sins are really big whoppers like adultery, stealing and killing. Basically, they are the ones which disobey the Ten Commandments and ... the rules of the Catholic Church as imposed by its teachings. (I must buy such a book just in case I'm doing something wrong and don't know it!)

Now then ... according to the Catholic Church, if you die with a mortal sin on your soul you're going down without a parachute my friend. No hope for you.

If you die with a venial sin or sins then you'll spend some time in Purgatory before going to Heaven. It's like a car-wash where they clean your soul and put a sparkle on it.

Here again I am confused.

No where in the Bible does it mention Purgatory. So we don't really know if it exists or what it's like there. Is there a burning fire like in hell but a little cooler? Are there devils poking you with blunt forks, or angels cleaning your soul? How long do you have to stay in Purgatory? Is it a day for each venial sin, a week, or longer? These Catholics don't half confuse things!

When Jesus hung dying on the Cross, He said to the thief next to Him, "Today you'll be with me in Paradise." He didn't say, "But you need to spend some time in Purgatory first!"

But let's leave the Catholic dogma to one side for a moment. Let us look at the nature of sin as viewed by God; if we could be so presumptuous as to try and see like God.

Does He view all sins with the same degree of seriousness and "badness", if there is such a word?

Does my being greedy with ginger marmalade rank in the same seriousness as adultery? Is an adulterer not also being greedy in a similar manner as me? (OK ... stop smirking. I realise there's a lot of difference between a spoonful of ginger marmalade and sex. I'm trying to be serious here, and you're making up your own jokes.)

Does God categorise sin into different levels of seriousness and does He judge us accordingly?

When we die, will He send an unrepentant adulterer, thief or murderer down? All three have broken one of His Commandments. How about an unrepentant gourmand or a lazy husband who will not paint the garden gate and fence, or mow the lawn, even though his wife asked him a million times?

Does a lazy man who does not do what his wife asks him, like mowing the lawn, deserve to go to hell? (Don't ask my wife!)

Does God judge the sin, or the intent behind the sin?

An adulterer, thief, or murderer knows he is doing something wrong. He knows it is against God's will. Yet he knowingly does it all the same regardless of the seriousness of the matter. That's what a serious, or mortal, sin is: knowing that doing something is seriously wrong, yet doing it all the same without any pressure or influence from anyone else; doing it in defiance of God.

Being lazy, or greedy, are weaknesses of human nature. God knows that; because He created us and He knows all our weaknesses. God knows that the intent behind these sins are our weaknesses rather than a clear-minded decision to do wrong, and to defy God.

The sin of Adam and Eve was not a sin of greediness because they liked the fruit. Or indeed a sin of disobedience because God told them not to eat the fruit. It was a sin of defiance. They knowingly defied God. They were told that by eating the fruit they "will be like God". (Genesis 3:5).

Not so dissimilar from Lucifer's sin. He wanted to be like God.

I believe that when God comes to judge us, He will look at the intent behind our actions. Have we lived a life as best as we can following His Commandments, loving Him, and trying our best to please Him?

Or have we lived a life in defiance of Him? Not believing in His existence. And pursuing our own purpose in life.

A friend of mine, Father Francis Maple in one of his sermons makes a good point about our relationship with God by referring to a leaning tree. Here's what he says:
I think of a life as a tree. If a tree leans in one direction when it dies it will fall in that direction. It is not going to fall in the opposite direction. So, too, with our lives. If all the time we are leaning towards God, very likely, with God's grace we shall fall into His arms when we die. But if our lives never point to God, it is very likely that when we die we shall die in enmity with God.

NOTE: Let's have a discussion. I welcome your views, opinions and disagreements also; for it is by an exchange of thoughts that we learn from each other. Anonymous comments welcome.

If you would like to suggest a subject which we can discuss on future posts please write to me at: Your e-mail will reach my desk only and I will respond to every one I receive.

God bless.


  1. Victor, I really like Fr. Maple's analogy of the tree. In what direction are we leaning? Our former pastor described sin as "missing the mark." He did not distinguish between venial or mortal sins - a sin is a sin is a sin. We need to be ever prepared to ask God's forgiveness, even for the "small" sins.
    Anyway, I know these thoughts aren't deep, but it's my take.

    1. I agree Martha, a sin is a sin; and that's that. What I was trying to distinguish is the seriousness of a sin compared to another; and how would God judge each of them.

      God bless.

  2. I enjoyed this post and as a converted Catholic (raised Methodist) I have always had issues with the Catholic church's teachings (and the requirement of the confessional). I now have serious issues with the current Pope and have found myself leaning on my Protestant upbringing. A sin is a sin, some much worse than others. The Ten Commandments are our foundation. Big subject(s) and not easy ones to 'discuss' in this venue.

    1. You are not alone, Terri, in having issues with the Catholic Church's teachings, and with the current Pope. There is a lot of confusion within our Church right now. Please feel free to discuss any subject here. All views and opinions are welcome.

      God bless you always.

  3. Attending a parochial school from the first grade to the twelfth, I remember our classes marching in file every first Friday of the month to have our confession heard. As a kid, I always wondered what the reason behind that was. I mean, how many sins can you have every month. The theory was after you went, you started the month on a clean slate. It never made since to me but I do remember making up sins simply because we had to go to confession. Basically, I just try and be the best I can and being human you are not going to succeed all the time. They made you feel like failing was a sin. And if you missed mass, that was a big bad mortal sin. I have always remembered that. It's totally crazy, in my opinion. Have a wonderful evening/day Victor.
    Another good post with lots to think and share. :)

    1. Thank you Bill for your well thought out comment. Yes, I agree and admit that we too, when we were children had to go to regular confessions even though we had not committed any sins. The problem is, in past generations, the Catholic Church tried to lead its followers with a long list of rules - don't do this, don't do that, don't eat meat on Friday and so on. Often, it was without explanation but just a list of Commandments of the Church, as they were called, that we had to follow or else.

      Unfortunately, this in my view did more harm than good. But I guess it kept the congregation in line.

      I don't believe that if you have led a good life, following God's Commandments and loving Him, yet you missed just one Sunday Mass you would necessarily go to hell. God is not so strict in His rules; and understands the reason behind missing Mass. Did one do it in rebellion and enmity against God; or for good reason just the once.

      But that was our Church in the past. In modern times, I fear, they seem to have lost their way a bit and created more confusion with their rules and instructions.

      Thank you Bill for taking the time to comment. Much appreciated.

      God bless you.

  4. There is much to be discussed here, BUT I would like to comment only on confession to the priest. Did Jesus not die so that we might live in fellowship with The Father? Did His blood not cover ALL of our sins? Because He died, I am able to go straight to The Father once I have turned away from my sin and confess. The blood of Jesus is the sacrifice and I am forgiven. No stopping off at the priest or Purgatory--no further payment needed---ONLY JESUS!
    Blessings, My Friend!

    1. Lulu, I tend to agree. The Catholic Church takes its lead on confessions from Christ saying to His disciples whatever you bind on earth is bound in Heaven and whatever you loose (forgive) is forgiven. Some might say this is taking the point too far in us having priests hearing confessions today.

      On the positive side, having to go to confession means that the individual thinks seriously about his/her sins, and not only repents but resolves to do better not to repeat the sin. Also, very often, when one goes to confession the priest tends to give advice and help on where people can improve on their weaknesses. A bit like going to a counsellor. I guess there will always be two or more points of views on the benefits of confession; but I agree with your premise that Christ's death has forgiven all our sins - that is if we confess them (to God) and wish to repent.

      On the question of Purgatory. There is no mention of it at all in the Bible. Some believe it is an invention of the Catholic Church from many moons ago in order to control its followers. Also to collect money for prayers and Masses to be offered for dead souls and to shorten their stay in Purgatory.

      Others say that the Catholic Church takes its teaching from Revelation Chapter 21 Verse 27 where it says ‘Nothing unclean shall enter Heaven.’ So, strictly speaking, since we all will die with some kind of small (venial) sins on our conscience we’re not spiritually cleaned … and that’s why we go to Purgatory.

      I have written extensively about Purgatory in this Blog, with my usual humour where appropriate. Please search for Purgatory in the search box at the top left of this page.

      Thank you for your comments Lulu. You always manage to set me thinking and re-asses my reasoning.

      God bless you my friend.

  5. I think it's dangerous to put sin into categories of bad, worse, worst. It could make one person think they do not need grace, and look down on those who do, while making another person believe their sins are too big for God to forgive. They're not.

    "The Bible tells us that sin is something that upsets God. It is against His will for us, and hurts His love for us."

    I think...sin is something that ultimately hurts us, which upsets God. I think nothing can hurt His love for us, but because He loves us it hurts Him when we are hurt.

    1. I understand what you are saying Sandi. The point I was making is that God distinguishes between one kind of sin and another. If two individuals died having different sins - like murder and the gluttony of eating too many chocolates - I doubt that God would send both to hell judging both sins on an equal footing.

      God bless.

    2. You put into words what I wanted to say Sandi, thanks.

    3. Victor, I think that sin is sin and to God it makes no difference. No matter what your sin is if you are a child of God you will be going to heaven.

    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    5. I should have said and if you have confessed your sin to God, He will forgive you.

    6. I tend to agree, Happyone. But what happens to someone who dies without having confessed to God a small sin; like being greedy, or telling a small white lie. Does he go to hell for that? Just like someone who has just robbed a bank and died in the process whilst being captured?

      God bless.

  6. No because once you are saved God promises us that we can never lose our salvation. He has already forgiven us for our past, present, and future sins.

  7. Hi Victor #1...

    I want to start off by saying that I've read all of your future post which led to this one.

    Long story short, I want to start off by thanking you for the many laughs that they produced... I can't recall when my smiling muscles have had so much exercise... LOL


    As for this post I'll simply say that all who know you including myself would most likely agree that you will and/or have already made "IT" to heaven.

    Long story short, me and you, "I" mean, you and i might probably agree that only GOD (Good Old Dad) is mostly likely the only one who could safely look into our heart and tell us(usual sinners) weather, "I" meant whether or not we're going to limbo, purgatory and/or hell...

    I hear YA! ... Hey how about "The Holy Trinity" Victor?


    God Bless you and yours.

    P.S. Please keep praying for this sometime poor sick annoying sinners.

    1. It's great to see you visiting again, Victor. Thanx.

      As you say, only God can see in our hearts and decide who is to go to Heaven.

      Praying for you and yours.

      God bless.



God bless you.

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