If you are like me, then you can enjoy, among other things; a good martial arts film. There
was one several years ago called "Mortal Combat". The film was called "Mortal Combat"
because it was supposed to portray a more serious tone than some martial arts pictures.
Also, the title was to convey the idea that the battles fought would be to the death = mortal.
In our last letter, you asked me about Mortal Sin. You mentioned that someone told you
that the Catholic Church made up the word "Mortal". The following Scriptures should help
resolve that question.
"If anyone sees his brother committing what is not a (deadly) mortal sin, he will ask, and
God will give him life for those whose sin is not (deadly) mortal. There is a sin which is
(deadly) mortal; I do not say that one is to pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is a
sin which is not (deadly) mortal." [1 John 5:16-17]
The King James Version uses the word (deadly) while the Revised Standard Version
(Catholic Edition) uses the word "Mortal".
What death is John referring to?
"I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have no more that
they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has power
to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear him!" [Luke 12:4-5]
The only death that Jesus says counts; is the death of our soul.
"Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "And Jesus said to him,... (19) You
know the commandments: 'Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear
false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.' [Mark 10:19]
Jesus says here, that to get to Heaven one must keep the Ten Commandments. So, if you
or I kill someone, for example; we would be committing a sin. What kind of sin? "Mortal".
Why is it Mortal? Because we cannot get into Heaven. Our action, in this case, will kill the
life of our soul.
[Galatians 5:19-21] Paul says people who do these things can not get into heaven, verse
21. Immorality: & Impurity: (obscene sexual activity); Licentiousness: (morally
unrestrained);Idolatry: (excessive devotion to or reverence for some person or thing, for
example: instead of trusting in God to get you out of trouble - you always turn to one
particular thing other than God, money, sex, drugs, food). [Col. 3:5] Sorcery: (the
supposed use of an evil, supernatural power over people, witchcraft). Enmity: (treating
people as enemies), Strife; (always fighting or quarreling); Jealousy: Anger: (in this case I
don't think anger itself is a sin, because Jesus became angry over the moneychangers in
the Temple, [Mt. 21:12; Mk. 11:15] also see [Mk. 3:5] it is what we do about our anger!)
Selfishness: Dissension: (Always quarreling) [some of these repeat] Party spirit: (it is not
bad to enjoy going to parties, but to do it as a way of life would be wrong). Envy:
(Jealousy); Drunkenness: Carousing:
READ the following for more on sin: Romans 1:28-32; 1 Cor. 9-10; Eph. 5:3-5; Col. 3:5-8; 1
Tim. 9-10; 2 Tim.2-3.
"Some" would point out the Letter of James "For whoever keeps the
whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it." [James
They would say: "this proves that God never meant us to keep the Commandments". That
we cannot keep them even with His grace! That we cannot be holy. They also use this
verse to prove that there is no distinction between Mortal and Venial sin.
Is that what God is saying here?
If we start by taking this section in context with the whole of chapters 1 & 2; we can see, St.
James is telling the believers that they must live the "law of liberty". What is this "new" law?
Go back to v.25, the only "perfect law" we have is God's Law, "love the Lord your God with
all your heart. . . and your neighbor as yourself." It is the "law of love" [Mt. 22:34-40].
St. James is saying; each and every commandment of the Law of God is an expression of
His will. Therefore, any sin - even if it is against only one precept - is always an offense
against God. And if the sin is a grave sin, it destroys the virtue of charity and the
supernatural life of grace.
When explaining this point, St. Augustine reminds us that charity is the fullness of the law
(cf. Romans 13:9f); the Law and the Prophets are grounded on charity in its two
dimensions of love of God and love of neighbor (cf. Mt. 22:34-40). "And no one loves his
neighbor," he goes on, "unless he loves God and tries his best to get that neighbor (whom
he loves as himself) to love God too. If he does not love God, then he does not love
himself, nor does he love his neighbor. That is why whoever would keep the whole law but
fails in one point has become guilty of all of it, for he has acted against charity, on which
the whole law depends. One becomes guilty of all the commandments when one sins
against that virtue) from which they all derive" (Letter 167, 5, 16).
St. James could not be telling us here that there is no such thing as a separation in sin.
Because in chapter 1:15, he tells us: "Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin;
and sin when it is full grown brings forth death."
Here we see James talking about - desire (concupiscence or the 'flesh' as St. Paul talks
about it, cf. Romans 8) which when it "conceives gives birth to sin", and this 'level' of sin -
although it is sin; when it is 'full grown' it causes death of the soul.
"Some" might say; St. James is saying here that since all sin is the same v. 10, and we
cannot even with God's grace keep all the commandments, we cannot be holy! Actually
what is happening here is the complete opposite of what those outside the Church of
Christ (the Catholic Church) are saying!
St. James is telling us to be "perfect" v. 4! St. James is saying that we need - with the
Grace that God gives for the asking - "who gives to all men generously" v. 5, - to live the
'Law of Love' v. 25, - "be doers of the word" v. 22! He is saying in verses 2-12 that when
we are tempted and "endure the trial", we ''will receive the crown of life''. If we succumb to
sin v. 15, eventually comes "death". In verses 2-4 he tells us to "Count it all joy, my
bretheren, when you meet various trials, for you know that testing of your faith produces
steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and
complete, lacking in nothing."
Rather than telling us it is useless to try not to sin, St. James is repeating what Jesus and
St. Peter and the Church today continues to tell us! "but as he who called you is holy, be
holy yourselves in all your conduct; since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am Holy." [1
Peter 1:15-16; Lev. 11:44-45; Mt. 5:48]
St. Paul in Romans 8:2; "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from
the law of sin and death."
Look at 7:19; St. Paul is doing the same thing that St. James is doing. He is showing us
that in Christ we can live lives; "holy and acceptable to God," [Romans 12:1].
Mt. 5:48; "be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect."
Romans 5:3; "we rejoice in our sufferings knowing that our suffering produces endurance"
[exercise control to receive an imperishable wreath (1 Cor. 9:25); crown of glory Sirach (1
Your brother in Jesus Christ;
|Some believe that The Catholic Church made up
the concept of Mortal or Deadly Sin.