Does anyone ever know what they are doing when they sin?


#163

Thank you for your long answer. It sounds like you had a well-formed conscience in spite of the fact that you had so many influences around you to misguide it!

So yes, as you were told by therapists, your conscience “should” have been badly formed, but you by the grace of God beat the odds and were able to connect with a deeper part of yourself. Congratulations! You are not saying that other people can not have a malformed conscience, though, as the CCC says conscience formation is a life-long process:

“Knowing what we are doing when we sin”, though, is more than just the conscience. First of all, “knowing what we do” means that we are not blinded by desire or resentment, which is very often the state of mind when people sin. The test for this is, does the person regret his action later, such that he would not repeat his sin? If the answer is yes, then there was something he did not know when he sinned. If the answer is no, then his conscience is malformed.

Another part of “knowing” could be called the “love test”. Would the person commit the same sin against his own mother, against his own child? If the answer is no, then the person’s value of human dignity is underdeveloped, he is immature in empathy toward other people. If the answer is yes, then he is blinded by despair.

Make sesne?


#164

Thnk you…trying to understand…but not really. It seems kind of opposite. If a persons sorry…how can they lack empathy?

A person can regret their actions cuz of the consequences or because they genuinely feel contrition which i would think is a good conscience.


#165

Yes, I do see that you are trying to understand, and the “tests” can be confusing if they are mixed. What I meant is that if a person later regrets his sin, to the degree that he would not repeat it, then his clear thinking is at the time of regret, not the time of the sin. If his presence of mind, if his “knowing” at the time of the choice to sin was the same as when he had the regret, he would not have sinned. A person who later regretted wanting Jesus crucified was blind at the time of crucifixion.

The other test, “would the person commit the same sin against his own mother or child?” has to do with empathy and seeing value in all people. Let’s say a person steals some clothes from a store. Would he steal the clothes if the store was owned by his own mother or child? If the answer is no, then he is not aware of the value of the person who owns the store, he is inconsiderate of their wants and needs as people, he has an undeveloped value of human dignity, his value of people is limited to those he loves, those who love him.

So, in a sense you are correct. Even a psychopath can be sorry that he killed someone, because now he is in jail. He sees that his sin was wrong because now he is suffering the consequences. However, did he ever have empathy for the person he killed, or the loved ones of the victim? Probably not. People we call “psychopaths” have a very limited and underdeveloped empathy ability.


#166

Good Morning Steve,

Now just for a moment, breathe. Think to yourself: “am I going to say everything OneSheep is wrong just because of who he is and the observations he makes are so wrong?” If so, try to be aware of that bias. I might say something that actually makes sense! :slightly_smiling_face:

Well, of course he did. It was Eve who took it first. However, he did sin and obviously regretted his action. Would he have chosen to eat the fruit if his mindset would have been the same as when he had the regret? No, not if his regret had been forefront, knowing fully the consequences (including the emotional consequences) of his action.

Yes, he is making excuses, trying to escape the consequences. Does he know what he is doing when he does this? Answering that question would involve understanding what is happening in his mind. At the time of the statement, he was probably feeling some fear, so it is understandable that his fear blinded his sense of right and wrong concerning taking responsibility.

Did you know that even robots will lie when they are programmed to be competitive and “learn” from trial and error? It only takes a bit of intelligence to seek escape.

An apology would have meant taking ownership and being willing to accept the consequences. If he later regrets this, then his mindset at the time was one of blindness. The time of regretting not apologizing is when he is of clearer mind, connected to his conscience, not when he refuses to apologize.

He is guilty in the sense that he committed the sin, but he did not know what he was doing when he did all of them. Does God blame them, hold something against them, refuse to forgive? That depends on one’s image of God.

God’s love for us is uncompromising. Human desire for justice, however, can compromise our love for one another. Keep in mind when Jesus stopped the stoning of the adulterer. Keep in mind the prodigal son’s older brother.

(continued)


#167

This verse taken alone is far out of context of the Gospel. Our theology has it that people choose hell, we are not “cast” there. The verse has to be carefully explained, otherwise it contradicts God’s forgiveness. The prodigal son’s father wants His son back, even when he is out sinning.

Steve, if you did not fear hell, would you behave? Is it only out of self-preservation that people avoid sin? Well, it may be true for some people. For those people, fear is a very good thing. All of us need some degree of fear when we are children and do not have empathy and love as our primary guide.


#168

Okay, great, now we can go from my saying my observations and you making assertions contesting without evidence.

The first question is, why is the person choosing to sin, even though he fears hell? For the sake of clarity, can we say he is choosing to steal something? Commit adultery? Pick a sin, please, it may help.

And when I’m asking “why is the person choosing?” what I am not looking for is an evaluation, but the reasons in the person’s mind for choosing to sin even if those words are in the forefront.


#169

I would like to make it clear that being overcome by immoral passions is itself sinful, I am pretty sure.
But I would argue based on my own experience that when one rationalizes, they still know that it is wrong but that they are finding a way to make it sound OK to do just for their own sake. It is a mind that has not the Law of the Lord above all things.
Contrast that with the Jews. Had Jesus TRULY been a blasphemer, then what they were doing might have been seen as something fine to do. However, they really did not know what they were doing.


#170

Yes, I agree that it is. The question is, does the overcome person know what he is doing when he does this sin?

Exactly. It is a mind that has not the Law of the Lord (sound conscience) above all things, or he has an underdeveloped conscience, and/or he has an undeveloped ability to empathize. If he knew what he was doing, he would have the Law of the Lord in the forefront, above all else.

And when our mind is “trying to find a way to make it (sin) OK”, then we are also sinning. To a degree we are alienated from what is true, alienated from love. We are blinded by fear of consequence. If I do this rationalizing, and later regret it, then the clear mind is not when I have been rationalizing, but when I have the regret for doing so. If I had known the regret before I had done the rationalizing, then I would not have chosen to rationalize.

And when I want to keep blaming myself, my mind resists seeing that I did not know what I was doing. The clear mindset is one in which a person understands and forgives, not when one is in a state of blaming.

Well, they did not know what they were doing at many levels.
A. They did not know that Jesus was not blaspheming
B. They did not see His divinity
C. They did not see his human dignity
D. (there are probably many more things they did not know, i.e. that He was showing people God’s love, etc.)

Are you seeing that letter “C” applies to the other two people being crucified that day? Crucifixion and torture in themselves are ramifications of the lack of awareness concerning human dignity.


#171

I hope this is being received as I am trying to demonstrate.

Understanding our lack of awareness is very humbling, but it empowers us to be responsible.

When Jesus said, “forgive them, for they know not what they do”, He called us to take a look within. Where is my ignorance? Am I ignorant? And then, through use of the gift of understanding, we are given the ability to forgive at a deeper level, deeper than the level of “okay, I won’t be mad at myself”.


#172

Capital punishment is a difficult issue to speak about, because I know I would not want anyone to be killed, but in terms of blasphemy or heresy, I have to do some cost benefit analysis on the life of one or the life of the untold hundreds or thousands or however many eternal souls being endangered over the heresy or blasphemy.
Of course, this is not applicable in today’s world where all sorts of blasphemies and heresies are readily available to anyone who wants to hear them or not.
Of course, Jesus is the Truth and full of Love and spoke truth and love, showing the Wisdom of God.
And the Jews knew not what they were doing.

Sinners know they are sinning, but put that fact out of their mind. Even if they have a well formed conscience, they can still sin by forgetting it (I mean on purpose). Of course, it is less likely for one further along in sanctification to sin, yet it can happen.

This is why it is important to pray for the grace of God at the beginning of any temptation (I need to take my advice more!). At the asking, that very moment we are given Grace. If we allow the temptations of devils and sin to get to us, it may be too late.

When one is later on in sanctification, the temptations to sin grow much more complex, or so I hear. They become things that seem good but are still sins. “The road to Hell is paved in good intentions” or so it is. Yet despite knowing it is sin, the temptation seems like it would be good that it would be OK. This is why it is important to NOT want to offend God at all. To prefer to die than to offend God, but God desires not our death but life.


#173

Yes, this is all the truth as I know it.

You are focusing on avoidance of sin, and this thread is about understanding why people sin, and use of the Gift of Understanding in the process of forgiveness, as Jesus demonstrated from the cross.

The conscience protects our negative feelings toward ourselves, the conscience to some degree protects our self-condemnation and guilt. The conscience operates in the mode such that if we hang onto our guilt, we are much less likely to sin, and to some degree it works! So, while the conscience self-protection compels us to avoid understanding ourselves and others, when we hang onto self-blame we are not in a state of holiness, we are enslaved. It may be a useful slavery, but Christ calls us to reconcile within, to forgive those parts of ourselves and our past sins that we hold against ourselves. It is an invitation to a deeper reconciliation.

Seeing our lack of awareness can be helpful in letting go of self-blame (negative feelings about oneself).

Can you see that those involved in heresy or blasphemy do not know what they are doing?


#174

I see. What you are saying is to be rid of guilt.
But, I cannot agree with the method. It may lead some to believe a mortal sin is venial, which can lead to more sin.
The method to be free of guilt is confession, not obfuscating our actual guilt. I know from my own past that when you want to do something bad you will come up with any half baked rationalization to commit a sin. This is not necessarily blindness, it is being sinful because we want to sin due to concupiscience, and since we are a creature drawn to rationality, this is the method that allows to us to perhaps sin. You don’t even believe it when you say it, deep inside. You can deceive yourself on a shallow level but not deeply.
Heretics may or may not be liable for their heresy depending on their capability to know of the Truth. However, it is most likely they have hard hearts or are deeply misinformed; the former is most likely more liable than the latter, though now with Internet access one wonders if one who does search could not find information to satisfy their intellect. All this said, we need not despair at the death of a heretic but can hope that, even though they lack the full and explicit knowledge of the fullness of Truth, they may have, unknowingly, still accepted the Truth.


#175

Maybe not just yet, but you’re getting warmer.:slightly_smiling_face: I’m talking about forgiveness from the heart, which is empowered by understanding.

No, not if “guilt” means impute. I’m talking about understanding why people sin, not how to escape responsibility or consequence. Even the most insane person is still responsible for his sin. It is his choosing, his decision. If “guilt” means “to blame” or “to hold something against the person”, then that is a different usage. In that case, we are called to do the opposite of blame, which is to forgive. So yes, it is an odd way of saying it, but when I forgive someone I no longer blame (hold something against) him. So I am getting rid of guilt (in my attitude towards him).

Or, were you using yet another definition of “guilt”?

Well, you are expressing redundancy. Concupiscence is contrary to reason, it is caused by strong desire, it is strong desire that warps our objectivity. When we want, we are blinded, depending on the degree of the want. We are not thinking clearly, and we don’t even realize that the blindness has already happened. Rationalizing in itself is not the blindness, it is an effect of the blindness. What I am saying here is not an excuse, it is merely an observation of causation.

I agree, and when a person is caught up in desire, his access to the deep level is greatly compromised. What I am saying here is not an excuse, it is merely an observation of causation.

If a person knows the truth, really knows it, then they do not cling to heresy. Again, this is a matter of observation. This is not making excuses.

These words, depending on tone, may express resentment. Indeed, even the word “heresy” may express resentment. When a person is using these words in condemning ways, are they speaking from a shallow level, the level that is caught up in condemning and punishing, or are they speaking from a deeper level, the level that involves understanding and forgiving?

Are you starting to see the direction, the focus, of this thread now?

Yes, they may have, and God forgives them one way or the other. A lot of this has to do with our image of God, but in my own life I saw a more forgiving God when I myself learned how to forgive at a deeper level.


#176

[quote=“OneSheep, post:166, topic:456249, full:true”

[quote=“steve-b, post:158, topic:456249”]
Adam immediately blamed Eve.

[quote=OneSheep]

Well, of course he did. It was Eve who took it first.

[quote=steve-b]

Adam could have said no.

A&E knowingly disobeyed God, and the punishment was administered.

[quote=One Sheep]

However, he did sin and obviously regretted his action. Would he have chosen to eat the fruit if his mindset would have been the same as when he had the regret? No, not if his regret had been forefront, knowing fully the consequences (including the emotional consequences) of his action.

[quote=steve-b]

his mindset? He knowingly made the choice to disobey God,

Yes, he is making excuses, trying to escape the consequences.

so Adam and Eve are now robots?

What happened to the part all humanity is created in the image and likeness of God?

[quote=“steve-b, post:158, topic:456249”]
Why didn’t he apologize?

[quote=OneSheep]

An apology would have meant taking ownership and being willing to accept the consequences. If he later regrets this, then his mindset at the time was one of blindness. The time of regretting not apologizing is when he is of clearer mind, connected to his conscience, not when he refuses to apologize.

He is guilty in the sense that he committed the sin, but he did not know what he was doing when he did all of them. Does God blame them, hold something against them, refuse to forgive? That depends on one’s image of God.


#177

You’re trying to base your thinking on one’s “intention” to sin.

From the CCC

1756 It is therefore an error to judge the morality of human acts by considering only the intention that inspires them or the circumstances (environment, social pressure, duress or emergency, etc.) which supply their context. There are acts which, in and of themselves, independently of circumstances and intentions, are always gravely illicit by reason of their object; such as blasphemy and perjury, murder and adultery. One may not do evil so that good may result from it.

1758 The object chosen morally specifies the act of willing accordingly as reason recognizes and judges it good or evil.

1759 “An evil action cannot be justified by reference to a good intention” (cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Dec. praec. 6). The end does not justify the means.

1760 A morally good act requires the goodness of its object, of its end, and of its circumstances together.

1761 There are concrete acts that it is always wrong to choose, because their choice entails a disorder of the will, i.e., a moral evil. One may not do evil so that good may result from it.

You can’t ask why something is chosen, then say you don’t want evlaluation or reasons figured into the why behind the choice.


#178

God sends souls to hell. People don’t go to hell on their own. It requires judgement FIRST.
And we don’t judge ourselves.

Who in the world are you getting your theology from?


#179

Yes, this is the way I see it too. I think A&E did knowingly disobey.

However, did they know what they were doing, when considering an all-inclusive sense of knowing, as in knowing everything relevant? No, because if they had, they would not have sinned. Their state of knowing was when they had the regret and shame, not when they were caught up in desire.

I don’t take the story literally.

Of course they are not robots. I was only explaining that it only takes a bit of intelligence to come up with the option to lie. Is the tone of your question accusational?

Did you just judge my statement as “judging”?:slightly_smiling_face:

In my opinion, the story of A&E is about the addition of the conscience to A&E. Of course the story is going to have many if not all of the elements of the conscience in it. In the story God responded exactly how our consciences do, with the desire to punish wrongdoing.

The Linns say “If you read something in scripture that makes it seem like God loves you less than the person who loves you most, then something is amiss.” My own father loves me very much, and I am graced that he is still alive. He forgives every stupid thing I have ever done.

Forgiveness is an act of love. Does God loves me less than my own dad? I have said hurtful things to him that he often found amusing, because he knows they came from a position of lack of knowing. Is this “made up” image of God invalid? I have disobeyed him, but he always listened to what I had to say for myself, even when I was just making a bunch of lame excuses. He listened with a knowing heart and mind. My dad isn’t perfect, but he is an amazing dad!

And when thinking about it, you know what? My dad doesn’t fear hell or fear God, not in my observation. He’s not worried about it. My dad is a very non-uptight person.

From where comes your different image?


#180

People who love me show me who God is. Now, are you going to answer my question? If you did not fear hell, would you behave?

I think you missed the word “but” in my post. I am looking for the reasons, what is going on in his mind. I am not looking for evaluations or general conclusions.

Are you going to answer the question?


#181

In the story of the Prodigal son, what did the father say about that son when he saw that son far off ?

“this son of mine was dead but now he is alivehttps://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+15%3A24&version=RSVCE

If the son wasn’t sorry, and did not return to the father, what would have happened to him?

Let’s not forget who is telling the story.


#182

From what I can best surmise, the words “enslaved” and “dead” are used somewhat interchangeably in the Gospels. The prodigal son was dead, enslaved to his passions and desires. He suffered, and 17 “… he came to his senses…

If we are using the word “knowing” in an all-inclusive sense, that is, knowing what is relevant, the son did not know what he was doing.

If he had known the suffering he would endure, would he squandered all his father’s money? Again, we are talking about a person dead, enslaved, blind. When the money was gone, and he suffered and was sorry he had done what he had done, he woke up and realized he had been in the wrong. Many NT references to “death” have the same parallels.

Actually the father said that when his son was with him.

If it was you, what would the person who loves you most (as the father) do ? Would he forgive, or would he hold it against you?


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