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Is There Still Sin in the World?

There has been sin in the world since the beginning of time. One only has to read three chapters in the Book of Genesis before one comes to the story of the first, the original sin. Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. Sin did not end there. One chapter later (Genesis 4), Cain kills his brother Abel. Then comes the days of Noah when God sent a flood to cleanse the earth of sin.

Throughout history people continued to sin. David had relations with Bathseba. The Israelites continued to sin and so God let them be defeated and taken into exile in Babylon.

Today, we don’t hear much about sin. It would be wonderful if sin was stopped. Unfortunately, it hasn’t stopped. What has happened that people have lost their sense of sin.

What is sin?

In paragraph 1849, the Catechism of the Church Church offers the following, “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” (bold and italics my emphasis).

Sin offends God. It goes against the natural order (reason and truth) that God has established. This has been lost by many who think there is no truth and/or no god.

For something to be a sin, three things must be considered. The action must involve grave matter, the person must have full knowledge that it is grave matter, and the person gives their full consent to the action (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1857). Full consent means that a person is not guilty of sin if they were forced against their will to participate in the action. Full knowledge means the person must know that it is considered grave matter. The lack of full knowledge and/or consent does not change whether it was right or wrong (i.e. grave matter). It only changes the person’s culpability.

What about grave matter? How is it determined? There are people today, relativists, who say there is no real truth. To them, everyone gets to determine their own truth. We believe there is “truth.”

We can see truth in three forms, objective, subjective, and revealed. Objective truth can be factually demonstrated. A very basic example would be that 2+2=4. Nothing can change that. With moral objective truth, I bring up the commandment, “Thou shall not steal.” Stealing is bad in its very nature as routed in greed (see Deuteronomy 4:6).

The intention is to act against another. I emphasize intention thinking of something I just read about a police officer who was summoned to a store for a robbery. He asked the woman who was accused of the theft what she took and why. She said that she stole a few eggs to feed her family. The police officer went in and paid for the eggs. Her circumstances were of dire need. Circumstances do not redefine right and wrong. The ends do not justify the means. Stealing is stealing but culpability may be affected.

This leads towards “subjective truth.” Subjective truth involves our perception. Perhaps the facts cannot be established as absolute. It is a matter of opinion. (In the above example, the woman’s circumstances can be objectively established. She needed help.)

Revealed truth is “revealed” by God. God has given us the gift of reason by which we can arrive at much of the truth. However, reason alone is not enough to arrive at all truth. This is why God chooses to reveal his truth to us. God does this through the Bible and the Holy Spirit. Knowing God’s love for us as we see Jesus hang on the Cross, we can count on what God reveals to us.

Then, why do we sin? Here I include Paul’s words in his Letter to the Romans, “We know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold into slavery to sin. What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I concur that the law is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh. The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not. For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want. Now if [I] do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me” (Romans 7:14-20).

We desire to do good but the flesh draws us to sin. We sin because we see some pleasure or benefit in the action. It is not our goal to sin. That is not the pleasure. Often, it is based on physical pleasures. This is often the case in sins of adultery. It can also the case when our sins come from greed, the pleasure of physical wealth.

So, how do we battle against sin? That will be the topic of an upcoming article.


Fr. Jeff


  1. Linda House says:

    This blog brings to mind two cavalier phrases I frequently hear. “Live and let
    live” and “I can do whatever I want as long as I don’t hurt anyone”. I wonder how either can be true or believable. We do not live in a vacuum.

  2. Fr. Jeff says:

    Thank you for your comment Linda. People do not often comment. It is always good to know someone reads what I write.

    The second phrase you mention can be seen at the heart of relativism, “I can do whatever I want as long as I don’t hurt anyone.” What does it mean to “hurt”? I would hope everyone would include physical assault that leaves a person with injuries. What about life in the womb? When one understands that life begins at conception, is not a baby in the womb hurt by attacks against its life?

    Going further on the question of what it means to hurt, what about emotional hurt? Emotional scars can be as painful, even more painful, than physical scars. What about spiritual hurt? I’m not sure I have thought of this in these terms before. If one is led into sin, their soul is scarred. We need to lead people to the Truth of Jesus Christ. We need to follow Jesus.


    Fr. Jeff

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