Original Sin, Mortal Sin, Venial Sin: What Does the Bible Teach? By Dr. Paul M. Elliott

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1 From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase Roman Catholicism Original Sin, Mortal Sin, Venial Sin: What Does the Bible Teach? By Dr. Paul M. Elliott Part three of a series. Read part two. Roman Catholicism has repeatedly and arbitrarily changed the rules about sin, and what must be done to pay for it. Sins that Rome once said sent people straight to Hell can now be paid for with a few Hail Marys. What does the Bible say? Rome's False View of Sin and Its Consequences Roman Catholicism teaches that God deals with sins in different kinds of ways: water baptism, the Mass, acts of penance by the individual, and time spent in purgatory after death or, ultimately, in Hell if the individual dies with "mortal sin" unconfessed. Rome asserts that baptism with water is "the sacrament of regeneration by water in the word." That is, Rome teaches that the placement of consecrated water upon an individual, adult or infant, accompanied by the priest's pronouncement of the words, "I baptize," removes original sin, regenerates the soul, and makes the individual a Christian. 1 Rome further asserts that there are two kinds of sin, mortal and venial. Rome says that a mortal sin is a sin that, unless forgiven and fully absolved, condemns a person to Hell immediately after death. Rome defines a venial sin (meaning "forgivable" sin) as a lesser sin that does not result in a complete separation from God and eternal damnation in Hell. A venial sin involves a "partial loss of grace" from God. According to Catholic teaching, mortal sin requires the sacrament of penance (confession to a priest who pronounces sentence, that is, acts of penance the person must do to pay 1

2 for his sin). Otherwise, if a person dies with a mortal sin on his soul, according to Catholic teaching he will go straight to Hell. Purgatory is not an option for a mortal sin, only the sacrament of penance. 2 Rome over time has repeatedly and arbitrarily changed the definition of what constitutes a mortal sin. As recently as fifty years ago, eating meat on Friday even just a piece of baloney was a mortal sin. But today Rome says it is alright to eat that piece of baloney unless the church proclaims a meatless Friday, and then eating a piece of baloney is now only a venial sin. On the other hand, according to Catholic teaching, a venial sin can be purged away through jail time spent in purgatory. Rome says that if a person who dies has someone praying for him while in purgatory, the length of his sentence can be reduced. Or, if the person got some kind of indulgence beforehand (yes, Rome still offers them, for doing various things ranging from making the sign of the cross, to going to some holy place or shrine, to giving financial gifts to the church) the person who has committed venial sin can have time in purgatory reduced for good behavior. But once again only for venial sin. 3 Rome readily admits that these teachings are not founded primarily in Scripture, but in church tradition, which it views as superior to Scripture. 4 Authentic Christianity in Contrast Authentic Biblical Christianity says that Christ's full and final blood atonement deals once and for all with both original sin our sin nature inherited from Adam and specific sins we commit as the result of that nature: Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless 2

3 death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man's offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.) Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous. Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:12-21) Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Galatians 1:3-5) That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and 3

4 was manifested to us that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. (1 John 1:1-2:2) Genuine Biblical Christianity makes no distinction between "mortal" and "venial" sins, because it is to be found nowhere in Scripture. On the contrary, we find this: For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. (James 2:10) For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them. But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for "the just shall live by faith. Yet the law is not of faith, but 4

5 "the man who does them shall live by them. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree ), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Galatians 3:10-14) Bondage to Rome vs. Freedom in Christ Roman Catholic teaching keeps sinners in bondage by making rules and regulations of which Scripture knows nothing and by changing them at its whim. In contrast, those who are trusting in Christ alone for their salvation have been redeemed from such bondage, on the sole and supreme authority of the Word of God, "forever settled in Heaven" (Psalm 119:89), given to us by the One "with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (James 1:17). Next: Where must you come to confess your sins? References: 1. "Baptism," Catholic Encyclopedia, 2. "Sin," Catholic Encyclopedia, 3. "Purgatory," Catholic Encyclopedia, 4. "Tradition and Living Magisterium," Catholic Encyclopedia, tq0308 Copyright TeachingtheWord Ministries All rights reserved. This article may be reproduced in its entirety only, for non-commercial purposes, provided that this copyright notice is included. We also suggest that you include a direct hyperlink to this article for the convenience of your readers. 5

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