Youth New Evangelization & Spiritual Renewal Seminar Series
The Christian Morality: Seminar 11

What is a Sin?

We are GOD's creation. We know that we have been created by GOD despite our limited understanding of the underlying mechanisms. The Bible speaks about it and we profess it in our Creed. The ancestors of humanity were named Adam and Eve. They were created in the state of "Original Justice". Symbolically, Bible refers to this event as the life in the "Garden of Eden" or simply "Paradise". Because of their disobedience of GOD's commands, which is termed "The Original Sin", the evil entered the world. We now feel the effects of the original sin through human greed, selfishness, hatred, intolerance, jealousy, malice ... etc. In our world we see its effects in human suffering, injustice, hunger, illnesses, and wars.

The Original Sin

Man was created in the state of original justice. When Adam and Eve chose to disobey God, state of which we call the original sin, sin was introduced into the world and the original justice was lost. Mankind was condemned. Jesus Christ came to the world to restore the original justice. Without this justice (i.e. without living in truth and righteousness), and living under the state of sin deprives us from becoming children of God and heirs of Heaven.

Using the analogy of the tree of knowledge from which Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruits the Book of Genesis clearly points out the true nature of the Original Sin. It is the human self-righteousness (presumed "knowledge") often imposed on others by the influential majority around them rather than respecting the guidance of God's commandments.


We all have sinned sometimes whether consciously or subconsciously and therefore have the need for God's forgiveness. We learned that "sin" is freely choosing to do, or saying what we know is against God's will. There is a problem with this definition however. What is against God's will?

Sin - An act or statement, or failure to act or to make such statement which could cause another fellow human being, or other God's creation undue inconvenience, sorrow, pain or suffering.

In other words: anything we do, or fail to do which could hurt someone else!

The worst possible sins are those which consciously and intentionally cause harm to someone else such as in case of malice, and/or for our own personal gain. Pride and arrogance also belong among the worst sins. But there are times we can hurt others without even knowing. Therefore we have a need to ask for God's forgiveness periodically.

Sacrament of Forgiveness

For this purpose, Jesus gave the Church the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Here, God acts through the person of the bishop, or the priest to forgive our sins. It is important to realize that during our confession it is NOT the priest who forgives our sins. He is only the instrument of the Holy Spirit. In reality, it is God Himself who forgives our sins through the authority of the bishop or the priest performing this sacrament.

As we are forgiven, we too are expected to forgive those who sin against us. We must treat others the same way we ask God to treat us.

When we freely choose not to live the way God wants us to live however, we deprive ourselves of the reward of eternal salvation and it may lead us to sin. All sins offend God, hurt us, and often hurt others. Previously we defined sin as an action or inaction which may cause undue suffering to someone else. But not all sins are the same and the Church defines them thus:

Types of Sins

Mortal sin is a serious or grave sin which separates us from God. To be a mortal sin, according to our Church, it must meet the following criteria: Venial sins are less serious sins where one, two, or all three criteria above are missing.

But remember; these definitions are solely human interpretations and they in no way guarantee that this is the way God sees things. Besides, there may be difficulties with the definition of "what is wrong".

For example:

      Is it "wrong" to torture, cause death, or to kill a suspected terrorist?
      Is it "wrong" to kill in self defense?
      Is it "wrong" for a soldier to kill a group of unarmed, innocent villagers just to carry out an order?

According the criteria for the mortal sin listed above, it may not be since, the definition of what is "seriously wrong" may not be clear. The soldier may not have chosen to carry out the order freely. But, has he not freely chosen joining the army?

Intentionally I have asked whether something is "wrong" rather than "justifiable" because remember:

      Every war can be justified by peace.
      Many murders can be justified by self defense.
      An oppression of any minority group can be justified by "national security" interests.

Furthermore, also remember that not all things that are against the law are necessarily a sin. Similarly, not all things which are accepted by this society as legitimate and in accordance with its laws are righteous in the eyes of God, for as we know that "My ways are not your ways, saith the Lord God" (Is 55:8,9).

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