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Holy Spirit Interactive Youth: Bible Geek: Mortal Sins and Venial Sins

Mortal Sins and Venial Sins

Where in the bible does it talk about mortal sin and venial sin, deadly sin and not deadly sin? Can you help me find this passage?

Why, have you been sinning? Of course you have...I have too, it's part of our nature, but that doesn't mean that we can't put up a good fight, right?

I'm happy you asked this question because the distinction between venial and mortal sins is an important one.

You see, venial sins are known as "not deadly" because the gravity of the sin is not as great or severe as that of a mortal sin. Be careful, though, because in essence all sin is "deadly", whether mortal or venial. The Scriptures aren't saying that non-deadly (venial) sins aren't incredibly harmful, only that with venial sins, Sacramental Reconciliation is not necessary for forgiveness and remission of the sin. Does that mean that if you have venial sin on your soul you will automatically go to Hell when you die? No, that's not what I'm saying. Does that mean that with repeated venial sins staining your soul that you will automatically go to Heaven? No, that's not what I'm saying, either.

What I am saying is that sin is basically this: not wanting what God wants. Plain and simple. Falling into the "trap" of specifying which sins are "deadly" is exactly where the devil wants us, because our defenses are down. It may not be "as deadly" in a corporal sense, but it does promote slow death and an inability of the fullness of life that Christ invites and calls us to (John 10:10). All sin is rooted in selfishness, and hurts our relationship with God. So, we should never take sin, even venial sin, lightly - God doesn't.

That being said, some sins, yes, are more serious than others. I believe the Scripture you were referring to in your question, comes from 1 John 5:16:

"If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly, he should pray to God and he will give him life. This is only for those whose sin is not deadly. There is such a thing as deadly sin, about which I do not say that you should pray."

Other Scriptural references regarding sin are:

  1. Gal. 5:19-21
  2. Rom. 1:28-32
  3. 1 Cor. 6:9-10
  4. Eph. 5:3-5
  5. Col. 3:5-9
  6. 1 Tim. 1:9-10
  7. Mt. 15:19-20
  8. Ps. 51:7
  9. Job 14:4
  10. Rom. 5:12-14
  11. Jer. 14:20
  12. Gen. 8:21

Also, the Catechism of the Catholic Church does a great job explaining the difference between venial and mortal sins in CCC# 1854-1864 if you want to read further.

In a nutshell, there are three conditions that must be met for something to be a mortal sin:

  1. Grave matter as specified by the Ten Commandments.
  2. Full knowledge of the sinful character of the act, in opposition to God's law.
  3. Complete consent showing that it was a deliberate personal choice.
Now, many who read those (and the full Catechism explanation in full) as a result of their sinful nature automatically begin trying to find loopholes and pick words apart, etc. in an effort to justify their own selfishness and sin. Don't fall into that trap, either, that's just where the devil wants you. You doesn't want you growing in holiness, he wants to keep you trapped in sin (Rom. 7:21). The Catechism further warns that "feigned ignorance and hardness of heart do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of sin." (CCC# 1859). Read Mk. 3:5-6 and Lk. 16:19-31, for more information.

Live a life of holiness and avoid sin at all costs. The price you pay in the end, is not worth the "fun" in the moment. God wants you to have life. Sin destroys that life.

In the end the choice is yours...choose holiness.

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