Mortal sin by definition is sin causing spiritual death. It is a concept that you may not be familiar with if you identify as an Evangelical Christian or Protestant, but prominent in the Catholic faith. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “For sin to be mortal, three conditions must be met together: ‘Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.’” The Catechism also says that “Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments” and that mortal sin “results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God’s forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christi’s kingdom and the eternal death of hell.”
Ultimately, mortal sin is a deliberate violation of the Ten Commandments in thought, word or deed, committed fully knowing the gravity of matter, which also results in the loss of salvation. Salvation can only be regained through repentance and God’s forgiveness. While this is taught in the Catholic Church, is the concept biblical? Where can we find it in the Bible?
The basic thought regarding mortal sin is that in order for Christ’s forgiveness to be given to the offender, they must perform some work and then the forgiveness is granted. This presents an unbiblical picture of how God views sin. The truth is that all sin will be punished by God. The Bible teaches that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Romans 3:10 also adds, “None is righteous, no, not one.” All sin leads to death apart from Christ. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This verse highlights that sin leads to death but that eternal life is a gift from Jesus. John 3:16 states, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
The Bible doesn’t state that some sins are worth of eternal death whereas others aren’t. If you look at the definition of mortal sins, all sin is mortal sin because it makes the offender worthy of eternal separation from God. The process of categorizing sin into various levels is based on human standards regarding sin, not God’s view. While murder seems like a much greater sin than a small lie from a human perspective, the truth is all sin separates us from His perfection apart from Christ.
As Christians, we are to avoid sin but this can be quite a task because we are sinful beings. As much as we don’t want to, we still sin in our daily lives because of the sinful nature that was injected into us through the fall. Because God is holy, He cannot tolerate sin, and our sin separates us from him, becoming a barrier to our fellowship with Him and even causing us to lose the joy of our salvation. Isaiah 59:2 says, “Your iniquities have become a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that He does not hear.” The seriousness of sin should make us realize we cannot tolerate it or give sin any ground in our lives.
The Bible tells us that one of the first steps to take against sin is to repent. The importance of repentance is hard to overstate. Mark 1:15 begins with the statement, “Repent,” Jesus first public appeal. Repentance requires honesty. The Bible tells us, “How happy is the man the LORD does not charge with sin, and in whose spirit is no deceit!” (Psalm 32:2). No one comes to God with true repentance in their heart unless they’ve first acknowledged their need for forgiveness and reconciliation with Him. Only those who have ceased trying to cover up their sin with self-righteousness and deceit can experience the deep and lasting change that comes only through repentance. It’s importance that you acknowledge the danger of sin and the damage of guilt. We must honestly assess the consequences of our sin, which means assessing both personal consequences and impact it has had – and will continue to have on others.
We all have a sin problem. This includes us Christians. That’s why we need Jesus so much. But if you or someone you love is trapped in a pattern of sin, or refuses to repent from sin, the stakes can seem sky high. When you don’t know what to pray, pray God’s Word. Pray that you would see sin as God sees it. Pray that your heart would be softened. Pray that they would recognize the kindness of God. Pray that you would desire God’s Word. Pray that you would recognize that only God can satisfy your deepest needs.
Recognizing the truth about God can be an important first step to achieving victory over sin. However, the devil, the accuser of our soul, constantly tries to wreck God’s plans. He lies to us, tempting us to believe that we can grab hold of sin with no consequences. He uses day-to-day pressure and our own sinful nature to accomplish his purposes. It’s important that you seek God as He is the only way out. God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
In the Catholic Church tradition, mortal sin separates a person from God, meaning that unless repentance occurs, the believer has lost his or her salvation and will not go to heaven when they die. However the Bible teaches, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
Each of us can learn the healthy practices of confessing our sins. We may not be good at it right away, but we can make it a point to practice the things mentioned above. May the Lord help us to confess daily to Him and also to spend longer times with Him to clear up our sins and to restore and strengthen our fellowship with Him.