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An Understanding of Mortal Sin and Sins An Understanding of Mortal Sin and Sins

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An Understanding of Mortal Sin and Sins

Written by: Susan Kearney

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Jason DeRose
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Jason DeRose

Jason DeRose, Managing Editor at Christian.net, uses his expertise in religion and journalism to deepen understanding of faith's societal impacts. His editorial leadership, coupled with a strong academic background, enriches the platform’s diverse content, earning him recognition in both journalism and religious circles.

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A mortal sin is intentional and deeper than a venial sin. The seven mortal sins separate us from the Grace and Presence of the Lord Himself.

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“Mortal sin” and “Sin” are words that are mentioned in the Bible numerous times. Growing up, we’ve been told to do one thing and that’s to not sin. Whenever we commit a mistake or a “sin”, our parents would scold us or tell us to apologize. So, is “sin” really a bad thing? or at least, what makes sin bad? There is only one place to answer that, the Bible. Like always, it has the exact answer to our question.

What is “Sin”?

To answer the question earlier, yes, sin is indeed a bad thing. In short, 1 John 3:4 states that sin is lawlessness. Basically, anyone who breaks any law given by God commits sin. It is disobedience to what God’s Words are; it is the separation from His definition of what is right. In the Bible, “sin” equates to “missing the mark”. This “mark” points to the standard of God which is established by Jesus Christ.

However, the Apostle Paul says:

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” – Romans 3:23 

This clarifies one thing; we are all sinners by God’s design. But, what materializes this point is how we rely on God’s commandments to avoid sin. God does not want us to just know what sin is, He wants us to follow Him when He tells us not to commit it.

“Therefore no one will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the law; rather, through the law, we become conscious of sin.”- Romans 3:20 

The Act of Sinning

The act of sinning is what separates us from God, which is why sin is never good. God will not ignore sin as though it’s a small thing that can be taken lightly (Isaiah 59: 1-2).  However, Isaiah 59 also straightens out one thing; God is never deaf nor blind when it comes to saving us. As a matter of fact, God offers us a perfect life without any conditions nor doubt. But because of our iniquities or immoral actions, our sins have caused God to hide His Face from us. Our sins are what separates us from God for God never separates Himself from us.

The word “sin” is from the Hebrew word “hata” which is used in archery, meaning “missing the gold”. Biblically, when you connect this phrase to the Bible, God is the “gold”. Whenever we miss or lose sight of Him, we commit sin. God has set commandments for us to follow. At times when we turn our backs and disobey these commandments, we are sinning. For instance, the original sin by Adam and Eve is an example of what sin is. Because they ate the forbidden fruit, they angered the Lord and faced their consequences. In the same manner, our disobedience equates to our distance from God’s righteous definition.

The Seven Mortal Sins

Chain and Sin

All sins are equally offensive to God. It rejects His teachings and love. But, mortal sins are deeper. Venial sins are offenses that damage our connection with God. It can be our loss of patience or our tendency to gossip. Mortal sins, however, transcend this level; these sins cut us off from God. In Hebrews 10:26, the Apostle Paul tells us that there won’t be any sacrifice for sins we willingly do despite knowing the truth. Mortals sins are offenses that humans do despite knowing what’s right and wrong. Basically, it’s an act of sinning purposely which equates to us turning away from God- Mortal sins are premediated and never accidental which is why these are heavier than venial sins. Here are the seven Mortal Sins:

Sin of Pride

Pride is the mortal sin of extreme self-esteem, self-reliance, and self-love. It roots from acknowledging oneself immensely that the person loses sight of God’s blessings. Pride occurs when a person does not recognize God’s blessings and sees victory as a product of his or her own doing. When a person is prideful, he or she will no longer feel the need to connect to God because of the immense self-esteem that drives a person to believe they can do well without God.

Furthermore, this mortal sin is harmful to one’s life as it blinds them from the gifts of God. Another word for pride is “vanity”. Aside from being offensive to God, a prideful person can also harm their peers by underestimating, degrading or holding themselves superior among their surroundings. Proverbs 16:18 tells us that pride goes before destruction; nothing good will ever come from putting our egos higher than God.

What’s more frightening about pride is that it’s called to be the root of all the capital sins. When we start seeing ourselves as “gods”, we tend to engage more in other sinful actions because we no longer count on God in our lives. Pride also fuels corruption and selfishness. It is a highly dangerous sin that taints our lives with false images of extreme self-centered and corrupt ideas, On the other hand, the virtue that cancels pride is humility.

Sin of Lust

The second mortal sin is lechery or lust. It is an intense or strong desire and longing for sexual and earthly possessions. Sexual immorality, adultery, rape, bestiality, dishonesty, and corruption are some of the many fruits of lust. The nature of lust is intense as it changes one’s mind into a slave of whatever it is they are lusting about. Philippians 4:8 calls us to think of the things that are righteous, lovely, and pure. These virtues are the complete opposite of what lust is.

In addition to this, lust is severely intense; it makes a person long for sexual and earthly desires in a very strong manner. It makes a person lose track of who they really are and what they need. However, as what “lust” is known for, it isn’t limited only to sexual desires, lust can mean extreme desire in other things like money, power, or fame. When a person’s desire is too strong that he or she crumbles their own body and humanity, that person is under the influence of lust.

The opposite of lust is self-control or chastity. To cancel out lust, a person needs to build the strength to live in moderation and patience. A person should also keep in mind the teachings of God when it comes to morality. In that way, having desires won’t be extreme to the point that it becomes detrimental or lustful.

Mortal Sin of Food

Sin of Gluttony

From the word “gluttire” or “to swallow”, gluttony can be expressed as selfishness and loss of self-control when it comes to one’s impulses in eating and drinking. For example, the mortal sin of gluttony prevails in situations when food is limited, yet some people eat and hoard food, making supplies increasingly limited. Gluttony does not only speak about eating too much but, also dining with meals that are too expensive.

In the story of Esau (Genesis 25:29-34), gluttony is seen. When Jacob was cooking stew, Esau willingly sold him his birthright in exchange for the meat. Because of his excessive desire to eat, he faced bitter consequences after selling his inheritance for food. This is what this sin is. When a person indulges themselves too much with food or drinks, they are committing the dangerous act of gluttony which, like Esau, is bound to face dark consequences.

Gluttony is lavish; anything that is too much is never good. Psalm 23:19-21 reminds us to not be drunkards or gluttons as punishment awaits for those who do. To cancel this mortal sin, we need temperance. This virtue allows us to stay in a healthier and moderate line that does not blur our vision with excessive, humanly desires. This mortal sin makes people rush into decisions they should not make, therefore, a practice of temperance goes a long way.

Sin of Greed

Lust, gluttony, and greed are mortal sins that are similar in excessive amounts of desire. However, greed targets a specific “want” a person experiences. From the Latin word “avarus”  or “to crave”, greed is the desire for material gains that lead to the defiance of God’s ways. This sin occurs when a person loves riches too much, reaching a point where everything, even God, bears no meaning unless it’s a material gain. To a greedy person, their lives revolve only around earthly possessions such as money. Like all sin, greed blinds a person of what’s righteous.

Additionally, a greedy person worships the idea of getting and keeping lavish possessions. What’s dangerous about this is how this desire can make them selfish, boastful, violent, and self-dependent. Just like pride, being greedy branches to many other sins. For example, a greedy person tends to engage in trickery, manipulation, violence, and robbery in order to keep what they already have in bountiful amounts. Greed separates a human from its humanity; once a person is greedy, he or she won’t have the heart to care for others because their eyes are only peeled to what they have.

Ecclesiastes 5:10 tells us that whoever loves money more than they love God, will never be satisfied. Aside from having the ability to blind a person, greed also makes a person depressed. When a person’s life revolves only around cash or earthly desires, true happiness can never be attained and every false triumph a person accomplishes is meaningless. Greedy people are sad people. This is what we can expect when deriving happiness from something we cannot cherish after death.

Sin of Money

On the other hand, the virtue of charity nullifies greed. When a person engages in charitable acts, they become more focused on what truly matters and how one’s blessings can be a blessing to other people too. This is against greed which sides with God’s teachings.

Sin of Envy

The story of Cain and Abel is one of the many stories regarding the sin of envy (Genesis 4). To sum it up, Adam and Eve’s children, Cain and Abel were asked to sacrifice something to God. Both Cain and Abel chose to give the best they had; one being a shepherd and the other a farmer.  Though the bible does not say why God rejected Cain’s offerings, we can assume that Cain was jealous that Able’s offering was accepted. Because of Cain’s envy towards his brother, Cain killed Abel.

The mortal sin of envy refers to the strong feeling of anger, resentment or sadness towards other’s success or possessions. The words “envy” and “jealousy” are often mistaken as having one meaning. However, envy roots from a deeper and darker place. When a person is jealous, he or she might feel bad when comparing themselves to their neighbors as they don’t have what their neighbors have. On the other hand, envy also does more than that; it makes a person want to destroy what the other has or the person themselves.

When a person is envious, they tend to become unappreciative of God’s blessings. Envious people have an insatiable desire to bring a successful person down despite this being wrong and selfish. Gratitude cancels envy. And as soon as we see the beauty in our lives, our lives will have more meaning, joy, and color.

Sin of Wrath

Wrath is terrifying. This is one’s desire that’s fired by spite to have uncontrolled feelings of immense rage and hatred. The mortal sin of wrath is violent; it causes a person to lose their humanity over the other person they hate. While it is normal for someone to feel offended over something, wrath takes that to another level wherein it can even taint a person’s mind with murderous intent.

We need to be rid of wrath which can be demonstrated through vengeance, impatience, murderous intent, and violence (Colossians 3:8). In the same manner, this sin makes people forget who they truly are without wrath. Because of their intense hate, they tend to say or do hurtful things that they don’t actually mean to their friends and loved ones. For instance, a wrathful husband who kills his wife because of his temper drowns in regret after.

God calls us to be patient and kind; wrath distorts the great life He has for us (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). We cannot enjoy living with our family and friends if we stick to grudges and plans for revenge, only to feel spite. Wrath is nothing but pointless and foolish.

Sin of Sloth

As presented, most of the mentioned sins are due to extremity. The mortal sin of sloth is the opposite of this. Sloth is the lack of physical or spiritual effort, or in other terms, laziness. It is more than just “feeling tired”. Instead, it’s the absolute denial of doing something such as serving God.

Sloth is a strong vice; it finds disgust in living, it denies the usage of one’s abilities or talents, and most importantly, it rejects obligations. Romans 12:11-13 reminds us to never lack zeal or enthusiasm; this sin makes life seem irrelevant which is a big contradiction to what God has for us. Aside from this, sloth makes a person forget the meaning of life. It can span from intentionally denying to feel joy (acedia) to the absolute rejection of doing or feeling anything.

The opposite of this is diligence where one works and serves God wholeheartedly. This virtue allows a person to find more meaning in his or her labor which blossoms into happiness and blessings from God.

Fires of Hell

These are the mortal sins; as you can see, it is a fruit of anything that’s taken to an extreme level. Moderation is important to remind us of what we should do or take less and vice versa. Also, we should understand that sins are calls to start repenting. The Lord is loving, forgiving, and merciful however, we should avoid diving into temptations that go against or offend His Words – Start by prayer and act with righteousness.

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