SIN is a major theme of Lent, avoiding it, praying about it, and challenging ourselves , Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Nobel prize winner and long-term prisoner of the Russian Gulag, said that "the battle line between good and evil runs through the heart of every man."
'It's too easy to divide good and evil between we good guys and those bad guys, when, as Pogo once said, "We have met the enemy, and he is us." In the privacy of our own consciences, we admit that shadows lurk within our hearts, the concupiscence that makes sin appear to be an attractive choice. Our motives are always mixed. Like St. Paul, we lament, "I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want." (Romans 7:18)'
The desert fathers meditated long and hard on the human condition. Pope St. Gregory the Great, building upon the work of Evagrius and St. John Cassian, devised the list of what we call today The Seven Deadly sins. Sin, however, is not quite the right term for these deadly traits in the depths of our souls.
The terms "sin" and "vice," often used interchangeably, are not really identical. Sins are specific acts of commission or omission. Vices are character traits. Like virtue, vices are developed through habit and practice and produce a person's basic disposition. (The Catechism Glossary and #1813, 1866, 1849, 1853, 1854 offer the proper definitions of virtue, vice and sin.)
All sin is less a violation of law than an attack on communion. It always involves two things: a violation or distortion of human nature and a betrayal of communion with God. A character rooted in vice, produces acts in accordance with that vice. Similarly a virtuous character produces good fruit (see Matthew 7:16-20).
These seven vices - or, as we know them, Seven Deadly Sins - are the fountainhead of many of the sins we commit in our lives. When not rooted out and replaced by virtue, they can indeed kill the soul. Upon death, a person's basic character is permanently set - either towards God or against Him.'
So as we battle our vices during Lent, we must consider what SIN is, how we define it, and how to defend our Lenten practices to our fellow Christians. They do not believe in the levels of SIN. They do not accept our understanding of these Levels, the Deadly Sins or the Doctrines we believe. It is vital that we understand where in the Bible these are, how to defend our Faith vs attacks and challenges from our Christian brothers and sisters.
In Lent, we are challenged to replace a vice, or something that keeps us from a prayerful life, and replace it with deeper more serious prayer. It is not too late this Lent to refocus ourselves and dig deeper. Here is a refresher about SIN, where the level of SIN is found in the Bible and how to answer the challenges.
Sin is much discussed, but our brothers and sisters who are Protestant often object to our teaching and doctrines on the levels of Sin. They do not believe it is biblical. Well, not only IS it Biblical, it is also logical.
First let’s look at what the Catechism describes SIN and the Doctrines, found with its Biblical Basis.
Here is the copy/paste of this Chapter
LIFE IN CHRIST
MAN'S VOCATION LIFE IN THE SPIRIT
THE DIGNITY OF THE HUMAN PERSON
- MERCY AND SIN
1846 The Gospel is the revelation in Jesus Christ of God's mercy to sinners.113 The angel announced to Joseph: "You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."114 The same is true of the Eucharist, the sacrament of redemption: "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."115
1847 "God created us without us: but he did not will to save us without us."116 To receive his mercy, we must admit our faults. "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."117
1848 As St. Paul affirms, "Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more."118 But to do its work grace must uncover sin so as to convert our hearts and bestow on us "righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."119 Like a physician who probes the wound before treating it, God, by his Word and by his Spirit, casts a living light on sin:
Conversion requires convincing of sin; it includes the interior judgment of conscience, and this, being a proof of the action of the Spirit of truth in man's inmost being, becomes at the same time the start of a new grant of grace and love: "Receive the Holy Spirit." Thus in this "convincing concerning sin" we discover a double gift: the gift of the truth of conscience and the gift of the certainty of redemption. The Spirit of truth is the Consoler.120
- THE DEFINITION OF SIN
1849 Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity. It has been defined as "an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law."121
1850 Sin is an offense against God: "Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in your sight."122 Sin sets itself against God's love for us and turns our hearts away from it. Like the first sin, it is disobedience, a revolt against God through the will to become "like gods,"123 knowing and determining good and evil. Sin is thus "love of oneself even to contempt of God."124 In this proud self- exaltation, sin is diametrically opposed to the obedience of Jesus, which achieves our salvation.125
1851 It is precisely in the Passion, when the mercy of Christ is about to vanquish it, that sin most clearly manifests its violence and its many forms: unbelief, murderous hatred, shunning and mockery by the leaders and the people, Pilate's cowardice and the cruelty of the soldiers, Judas' betrayal - so bitter to Jesus, Peter's denial and the disciples' flight. However, at the very hour of darkness, the hour of the prince of this world,126 the sacrifice of Christ secretly becomes the source from which the forgiveness of our sins will pour forth inexhaustibly.
III. THE DIFFERENT KINDS OF SINS
1852 There are a great many kinds of sins. Scripture provides several lists of them. The Letter to the Galatians contrasts the works of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit: "Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God."127
1853 Sins can be distinguished according to their objects, as can every human act; or according to the virtues they oppose, by excess or defect; or according to the commandments they violate. They can also be classed according to whether they concern God, neighbor, or oneself; they can be divided into spiritual and carnal sins, or again as sins in thought, word, deed, or omission. The root of sin is in the heart of man, in his free will, according to the teaching of the Lord: "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a man."128 But in the heart also resides charity, the source of the good and pure works, which sin wounds.
- THE GRAVITY OF SIN: MORTAL AND VENIAL SIN
1854 Sins are rightly evaluated according to their gravity. The distinction between mortal and venial sin, already evident in Scripture,129 became part of the tradition of the Church. It is corroborated by human experience.
1855 Mortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God's law; it turns man away from God, who is his ultimate end and his beatitude, by preferring an inferior good to him.
Venial sin allows charity to subsist, even though it offends and wounds it.
1856 Mortal sin, by attacking the vital principle within us - that is, charity - necessitates a new initiative of God's mercy and a conversion of heart which is normally accomplished within the setting of the sacrament of reconciliation:
When the will sets itself upon something that is of its nature incompatible with the charity that orients man toward his ultimate end, then the sin is mortal by its very object . . . whether it contradicts the love of God, such as blasphemy or perjury, or the love of neighbor, such as homicide or adultery. . . . But when the sinner's will is set upon something that of its nature involves a disorder, but is not opposed to the love of God and neighbor, such as thoughtless chatter or immoderate laughter and the like, such sins are venial.130
1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: "Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent."131
1858 Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: "Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother."132 The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger.
1859 Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God's law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart133 do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.
1860 Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the imputability of a grave offense. But no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man. The promptings of feelings and passions can also diminish the voluntary and free character of the offense, as can external pressures or pathological disorders. Sin committed through malice, by deliberate choice of evil, is the gravest.
1861 Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It 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 Christ's kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back. However, although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God.
1862 One commits venial sin when, in a less serious matter, he does not observe the standard prescribed by the moral law, or when he disobeys the moral law in a grave matter, but without full knowledge or without complete consent.
1863 Venial sin weakens charity; it manifests a disordered affection for created goods; it impedes the soul's progress in the exercise of the virtues and the practice of the moral good; it merits temporal punishment. Deliberate and unrepented venial sin disposes us little by little to commit mortal sin. However venial sin does not break the covenant with God. With God's grace it is humanly reparable. "Venial sin does not deprive the sinner of sanctifying grace, friendship with God, charity, and consequently eternal happiness."134
While he is in the flesh, man cannot help but have at least some light sins. But do not despise these sins which we call "light": if you take them for light when you weigh them, tremble when you count them. A number of light objects makes a great mass; a number of drops fills a river; a number of grains makes a heap. What then is our hope? Above all, confession.135
1864 "Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven."136 There are no limits to the mercy of God, but anyone who deliberately refuses to accept his mercy by repenting, rejects the forgiveness of his sins and the salvation offered by the Holy Spirit.137 Such hardness of heart can lead to final impenitence and eternal loss.
- THE PROLIFERATION OF SIN
1865 Sin creates a proclivity to sin; it engenders vice by repetition of the same acts. This results in perverse inclinations which cloud conscience and corrupt the concrete judgment of good and evil. Thus sin tends to reproduce itself and reinforce itself, but it cannot destroy the moral sense at its root.
1866 Vices can be classified according to the virtues they oppose, or also be linked to the capital sins which Christian experience has distinguished, following St. John Cassian and St. Gregory the Great. They are called "capital" because they engender other sins, other vices.138 They are pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth or acedia.
1867 The catechetical tradition also recalls that there are "sins that cry to heaven": the blood of Abel,139 the sin of the Sodomites,140 the cry of the people oppressed in Egypt,141 the cry of the foreigner, the widow, and the orphan,142 injustice to the wage earner.143
1868 Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them:
- by participating directly and voluntarily in them;
- by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them;
- by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so;
- by protecting evil-doers.
1869 Thus sin makes men accomplices of one another and causes concupiscence, violence, and injustice to reign among them. Sins give rise to social situations and institutions that are contrary to the divine goodness. "Structures of sin" are the expression and effect of personal sins. They lead their victims to do evil in their turn. In an analogous sense, they constitute a "social sin."144
1870 "God has consigned all men to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all" (Rom 11:32).
1871 Sin is an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law (St. Augustine, Faust 22:PL 42, 418). It is an offense against God. It rises up against God in a disobedience contrary to the obedience of Christ.
1872 Sin is an act contrary to reason. It wounds man's nature and injures human solidarity.
1873 The root of all sins lies in man's heart. The kinds and the gravity of sins are determined principally by their objects.
1874 To choose deliberately - that is, both knowing it and willing it - something gravely contrary to the divine law and to the ultimate end of man is to commit a mortal sin. This destroys in us the charity without which eternal beatitude is impossible. Unrepented, it brings eternal death.
1875 Venial sin constitutes a moral disorder that is reparable by charity, which it allows to subsist in us.
1876 The repetition of sins - even venial ones - engenders vices, among which are the capital sins.
113 Cf. Lk 15.
114 Mt 1:21.
115 Mt 26:28.
116 St. Augustine, Sermo 169,11,13:PL 38,923.
117 1 Jn 8-9.
118 Rom 5:20.
119 Rom 5:21.
120 John Paul II, DeV 31 § 2.
121 St. Augustine, Contra Faustum 22:PL 42,418; St. Thomas Aquinas, STh I-II,71,6.
122 Ps 51:4.
123 Gen 3:5.
124 St. Augustine, De civ. Dei 14,28:PL 41,436.
125 Cf. Phil 2:6-9.
126 Cf. Jn 14:30.
127 Gal 5:19-21; cf. Rom 1:28-32; 1 Cor 9-10; Eph 5:3-5; Col 3:5-8; 1 Tim 9-10; 2 Tim 2-5.
128 Mt 15:19-20.
129 Cf. 1 Jn 16-17.
130 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh I-II,88,2, corp. art.
131 RP 17 § 12.
132 Mk 10:19.
133 Cf. Mk 3:5-6; Lk 16:19-31.
134 John Paul II, RP 17 § 9.
135 St. Augustine, In ep. Jo. 1,6:PL 35,1982.
136 Mt 12:31; cf. Mk 3:29; Lk 12:10.
137 Cf. John Paul II, DeV 46.
138 Cf. St. Gregory the Great, Moralia in Job, 31,45:PL 76,621A.
139 Cf. Gen 4:10.
140 Cf. Gen 18:20; 19:13.
141 Cf. Ex 3:7-10.
142 Cf. Ex 20:20-22.
143 Cf. Deut 24:14-15; Jas 5:4.
144 John Paul II, RP 16.
My narrative here…
1 John 5:17 (RSV) explicitly differentiates a mortal sin from a less serious one: “All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin which is not mortal” (KJV: “not unto death”).
Denying this would be tantamount to saying that a white lie or a momentary pang of jealousy or lust is the moral equivalent in God’s eyes of a torture, rape and murder.
Everyone agrees that all sin is barred from heaven. This is precisely why purgatory is such a merciful, necessary doctrine. If God gets “serious” about actual, real sin in heaven, why in the world would He not start now? Catholics think that God — in practical terms — takes sin as seriously now as He will then, and that’s one reason why we think mere imputation or forensic declaration of holiness is a falsehood.
1 John 5:16 expressly contradicts Protestant teaching on this, stating, “God will give him life for those whose sin is not mortal.”But Protestants say “all sin leads to spiritual death,” and that all sins are equal in God’s eyes. Which are we to believe?
John is clearly making the distinctions we routinely make with regard to degrees of sin.
The Bible provides several lists of sins that are said to prohibit one from entering “the kingdom of heaven”:
- 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts,  nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.
- Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness,  idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit,  envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
- Ephesians 5:3-6 But fornication and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is fitting among saints.  Let there be no filthiness, nor silly talk, nor levity, which are not fitting; but instead let there be thanksgiving.  Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure man, or one who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.  Let no one deceive you with empty words, for it is because of these things that the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.(cf. Gal 1:8; Heb 12:16; Rev 21:8; 22:15).
In other words, such lists presuppose distinctions of seriousness among sins.
Scripture, in fact, provides several indications of differences in seriousness of sin and also in level of guilt…
- Matthew 5:22 But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, “You fool!” shall be liable to the hell of fire.
- Luke 12:47-48 And that servant who knew his master’s will, but did not make ready or act according to his will, shall receive a severe beating. But he who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, shall receive a light beating. Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more.
- Luke 23:34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” . . .
- John 9:41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.”
- John 19:11. . . he who delivered me to you has the greater sin.
- Acts 17:30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all men everywhere to repent,
- Romans 3:25 . . . This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins;
- 1 Timothy 1:13 though I formerly blasphemed and persecuted and insulted him; but I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief.
- Hebrews 10:26 For if we sin deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,
- James 3:1 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, for you know that we who teach shall be judged with greater strictness.
Some folks bring up James 2:10: “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.” Does this prove that all sins are the same; equally destructive and worthy of judgment? No of course not, the passage is dealing with man’s inability to keep the entire Law of God. What is ironic, is that ML wanted to stricken James from the Bible too. He wanted to throw Jimmy into the eternal fires of hell.
James also teaches that the “prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects” (5:16), which implies that there are relatively more righteous people, whom God honors more (merit), by making their prayers more effective. He provided the prophet Elijah as an example. If there is a lesser and greater righteousness, then there are lesser and greater sins, because to be less righteous is to be more sinful, and vice versa.
Scripture is not agnostic on the level of Sin, and we Catholics have remained steady on this since the beginning. Luther was one of the most significant experts on the totality of the Bible, and as a master was uniquely able to re-write the Bible into a German translation that fit his wants and desires. He was a man who suffered from apparent guilt over his own actions. So he went about removing and changing things he felt needed to be changed to conform to his will.
He was able to remove 7 books from the Bible and wanted to remove Hebrews, James, Jude and Revelations too, thankfully the Calvinists refused.
Enjoy the days left and make them yours!