Monday, October 23, 2017

A few words to my Roman Catholic friends:



Every sin is a mortal sin!

Wait, …please read on as I explain.

As you well know, the official doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church includes that of mortal and venial sins.  Clearly this teaching suggests that there is a “scale” on which some sins rise to a more serious level than others. What is probably somewhat less clear is exactly where the dividing line between venial and mortal sin lies. This issue is so important, that if this Roman Catholic doctrine be true, then which side of this razor’s edge the sinner lands on will determine their final destination as either heaven or eternal damnation.  No small matter to be sure!
With that in mind I would like to pose a question for your consideration.  Do you think it is possible that breaking that which our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ called the “greatest commandment” would rise to the level of a mortal sin?  

Mark 12:28 And there came one of the scribes that had heard them reasoning together, and seeing that he had answered them well, asked him which was the first commandment of all. 29 And Jesus answered him: "The first commandment of all is, Hear, O Israel: the Lord thy God is one God. 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with thy whole strength. This is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like to it: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is no other commandment greater than these." (Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible)

It would seem to me, if there is a hierarchy of God’s laws then breaking that which is the greatest of them would bring the greatest punishment.  Can failing to uphold a lessor commandment deserve a more severe punishment? That there is such a hierarchy is plain by the words of Christ, for if there be a greatest and a second then it follows that there is a descending order from there on down to the least.  In fact, Jesus’ teaching from the sermon on the mount clearly supports that view:

Matthew 5:18 For amen I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot, or one tittle shall not pass of the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 He therefore that shall break one of these least commandments, and shall so teach men, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. (Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible)

“Right there it is,” you might say, “the teaching of venial sin. It is the breaking of the least of the commandments.”  But wait just one moment. God also inspired these words as penned by St. James: 

James 2:8 If then you fulfil the royal law, according to the scriptures, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself; you do well. 9 But if you have respect to persons, you commit sin, being reproved by the law as transgressors. 10 And whosoever shall keep the whole law, but offend in one point, is become guilty of all. 11 For he that said, Thou shalt not commit adultery, said also, Thou shalt not kill. Now if thou do not commit adultery, but shalt kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. (Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible)

Where then is the venial sin?  Can God’s perfect justice allow you into heaven when you have offended in one point and thus are guilty of the whole law? What’s more, if you acknowledge that the breaking of what Jesus calls the greatest commandment is a mortal sin, I would also suggest that it would be impossible to commit a venial sin without at the same time breaking that greatest commandment.  Can it be argued that one who is loving the Lord their God with their whole heart, and with their whole soul, and with their whole mind, and with their whole strength, could at the same time commit a venial sin? The very act of committing a venial sin bears witness that one is NOT fulfilling the greatest commandment. I ask you, which of us has ever gone an hour, let alone a full day, loving God with ALL our strength? Again, I must submit to you that all sin is mortal sin.

Now, even if all of the foregoing fails to convince you of the “mortal” seriousness of EVERY sin committed against a thrice Holy God, I would still urge you to consider the “Blessed Man” spoken of by David in Psalm 32, as quoted by St. Paul in his letter to the Romans.

Romans 4:1 What shall we say then that Abraham hath found, who is our father according to the flesh. 2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory, but not before God. 3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was reputed to him unto justice. 4 Now to him that worketh, the reward is not reckoned according to grace, but according to debt. 5 But to him that worketh not, yet believeth in him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is reputed to justice, according to the purpose of the grace of God. 6 As David also termeth the blessedness of a man, to whom God reputeth justice without works: 7 Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord hath not imputed sin. (Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible)

Just who is this blessed man?  Who, exactly, does not have their sins imputed (or counted against) them?  Certainly, every unbeliever has their sins counted against them, and in much the same way, mortal sins are counted against the believer.  But consider this; even venial sins are imputed to the believer, …so who is this blessed man?  It would seem that, if Roman Catholic doctrine be correct in this area, then the blessed man spoken of first by David and later Paul, must be a mythical creature.

There is an answer as to the identity of this blessed man.  The blessed man is the one, who like Abraham, believes God and it is reputed (deemed) to him as justice (righteousness).  The blessed man is the one who, as Paul tells the Ephesians, has by grace been saved through faith. And this is not his own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For he is God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that he should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10) The blessed man is the one who, as Paul wrote to the Galatians, does not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. (Galatians 2:21) The blessed man or woman is the one who believes that Christ, the Son of God, came to this earth and lived his life in perfect obedience to the Father.  That he died a cruel death on the cross in payment of their sins (every one of them; past, present and future), so that they will be seen by God to have the righteousness of Christ.  The blessed man or woman is the one who understands that all this is by faith alone.

Please, my friends, I beg you to consider these things for they are of the utmost importance.

2 comments:

St. Lee said...

As is so often the case, I must acknowledge Dr. James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries for providing the inspiration for this post. In fact, Dr. White may have been the first one to pose the question of who is the blessed man of Romans 4 in the context of Roman Catholicism. Thank you Dr. White; your ministry continues to be a blessing to me.

Jon Cramer said...

And yours to your readers.