How do we not go to hell?


I understand that if we are in a state of mortal sin, we go to hell. We must confess our sins and receive absolution (especially on a mortal sin ).

I know Jesus died for our sins on the cross. I just cannot understand that if we do not go to confession on time when we have committed a mortal sin, we go to hell ( presumably, nobody knows for sure).

The thing is, EVERYONE is a sinner. Gazillions of us are in a state of mortal sin. Yes we try to stop sinning, yes I am sorry for my sins, but I am still a sinner. I fear I will die a sinner. Hopefully not in a state of mortal sin, but I am indeed a sinner.

I am just struggling with being less fearful of being in a state of mortal sin when I die. I know Jesus died for our sins. I know He gave us direction on not sinning, but we are humans, we sin?


Sure, but mortal sin is “grave” sin. In other words, serious. If you choose to mortally sin and you don’t confess, then, yes you are in grave jeopardy of going to hell.

Most of our sins are venial. If you die in a state of venial sin, you will still go to heaven…after purgatory.

Read this whole section on sin in the Catechism. Hopefully, it will help clear things up:



True that most of our sins are venial, but many of us are committing mortal sins in a habitual and regular basis. What if it is hard to stop? Sure you can go to confession once a week, but are you even sorry for your sins then if you cannot even stop?


St. Faustina addressed God’s infinite mercy in her Diary and the many ways he extends this mercy to us sinners.
It is true that all of us sin. "The righteous man sins seven times a day."
The important thing to remember is that God is a merciful God who wills that all should enter His kingdom. Condemnation comes when we reject the salvation that He offers. It is a deliberate turning of our back on God. We as humans do not know all the different ways that God has of extending His mercy to us; so do not despair of His salvation. It is for this reason that the Church does not place anybody in Hell by name.
I also like the prayer of Thomas Merton about being in God’s will. In summary, it says my desire to follow God’s will places me in God’s will. There is where I would put my focus.


Talk to your priest. If it’s truly habitual and difficult to control, it may not be mortal. Remember…

1857 For a *sin *to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: "Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent."131

It could be grave, it could be with full knowledge, but it may not be deliberate. Whatever grave sin you are struggling with on a regular basis, I recommend you discuss it with your priest.

“…work out your salvation in fear and trembling.” (Phil 2:12)



On some level I have to agree with notion that almost everyone goes to hell. Just look at the requirement put by Jesus to be perfect like the Father is perfect. I do not know about you but that requirement is pretty much barring me from ever going to heaven.


Read 1036 of the CCC:

The affirmations of Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church on the subject of hell are a call to the responsibility incumbent upon man to make use of his freedom in view of his eternal destiny. They are at the same time an urgent call to conversion:

“Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”


It seems that I have once again become involved in an “Is someone outside the Catholic Church able to go to heaven?” thread. I have had several issues with the dogma of “Outside the Church there is no salvation” and some Catholics (including Catechisms, Vatican II, etc.) proclaiming that others can be saved. To me I have had a hard time reconciling Lumen Gentium with tradition. I have finally found a simple, concise answer to this question, and one that can be not only reconciled with Tradition, but Lumen Gentium conforms to. It comes from the Baltimore Catechism:

  1. Q. Are all bound to belong to the Church?
    A. All are bound to belong to the Church, and he who knows the Church to be the true Church and remains out of it, cannot be saved.
    Anyone who knows the Catholic religion to be the true religion and will not embrace it cannot enter into Heaven. If one not a Catholic doubts whether the church to which he belongs is the true Church, he must settle his doubt, seek the true Church, and enter it; for if he continues to live in doubt, he becomes like the one who knows the true Church and is deterred by worldly considerations from entering it.

In like manner one who, doubting, fears to examine the religion he professes lest he should discover its falsity and be convinced of the truth of the Catholic faith, cannot be saved.

Suppose, however, that there is a non-Catholic who firmly believes that the church to which he belongs is the true Church, and who has never – even in the past – had the slightest doubt of that fact – what will become of him?

If he was validly baptized and never committed a mortal sin, he will be saved; because, believing himself a member of the true Church, he was doing all he could to serve God according to his knowledge and the dictates of his conscience. But if ever he committed a mortal sin, his salvation would be very much more difficult. A mortal sin once committed remains on the soul till it is forgiven. Now, how could his mortal sin be forgiven? Not in the Sacrament of Penance, for the Protestant does not go to confession; and if he does, his minister – not being a true priest – has no power to forgive sins. Does he know that without confession it requires an act of perfect contrition to blot out mortal sin, and can he easily make such an act? What we call contrition is often only imperfect contrition – that is, sorrow for our sins because we fear their punishment in Hell or dread the loss of Heaven. If a Catholic – with all the instruction he has received about how to make an act of perfect contrition and all the practice he has had in making such acts – might find it difficult to make an act of perfect contrition after having committed a mortal sin, how much difficulty will not a Protestant have in making an act of perfect contrition, who does not know about this requirement and who has not been taught to make continued acts of perfect contrition all his life. It is to be feared either he would not know of this necessary means of regaining God’s friendship, or he would be unable to elicit the necessary act of perfect contrition, and thus the mortal sin would remain upon his soul and he would die an enemy of God.

If, then, we found a Protestant who never committed a mortal sin after Baptism, and who never had the slightest doubt about the truth of his religion, that person would be saved; because, being baptized, he is a member of the Church, and being free from mortal sin he is a friend of God and could not in justice be condemned to Hell. Such a person would attend Mass and receive the Sacraments if he knew the Catholic Church to be the only true Church.

I am giving you an example, however, that is rarely found, except in the case of infants or very small children baptized in Protestant sects. All infants rightly baptized by anyone are really children of the Church, no matter what religion their parents may profess. Indeed, all persons who are baptized are children of the Church; but those among them who deny its teaching, reject its Sacraments, and refuse to submit to its lawful pastors, are rebellious children known as heretics.

I said I gave you an example that can scarcely be found, namely, of a person not a Catholic, who really never doubted the truth of his religion, and who, moreover, never committed during his whole life a mortal sin. There are so few such persons that we can practically say for all those who are not visibly members of the Catholic Church, believing its doctrines, receiving its Sacraments, and being governed by its visible head, our Holy Father, the Pope, salvation is an extremely difficult matter.

I do not speak here of pagans who have never heard of Our Lord or His holy religion, but of those outside the Church who claim to be good Christians without being members of the Catholic Church.


I must have missed something. How did we “become involved” in this issue? I reread the posts in this thread, and I didn’t see anyone mention people “outside the Catholic Church.” :shrug:


Sorry, this was supposed to be posted in that thread that was talking about an ex-Catholic converting to the Methodist Church and her salvation. Please disregard my second post and discuss on.


I’ve done that before! :stuck_out_tongue: Oopsie. :smiley:

Thanks for clearing that up - back to the narrow gate.


In regards to mortal sin, just what constitutes ‘Full Knowledge’? (I’m sure this has probably been addressed before)

Is it that someone has told you that it is a mortal sin, or do you have to believe that it is a mortal sin and do it anyway? If you don’t believe that it is a mortal sin, even if someone has told you that it is, does that constitute ‘full knowledge’?


This is a great answer. If I was going to hang my hat on anything, this would be it.


Forgive me if I unknowingly speak against the Holy Spirit, but in sincere spiritual humility, I ask: Have we not recreated the burdens of the Law that Jesus freed us from?

I love you all.


I’m not sure about that one. I know it would still be material sin either way, but I think it would still be mortal. :shrug: To give an example: If someone was contracepting, and they know that the Church teaches it is a mortal sin (grave matter), then I think that is full knowledge regardless of whether they agree or not.

It doesn’t seem to make sense to me that you could just disagree, and make the sin non-mortal. However, there is invincible ignorance. Again, :shrug:

Anybody else know for sure?



Love you too. :slight_smile:


I’ve thought about this a lot too - does it just mean that we merely need to be aware that the sin is an inherently “grave” matter? I like to think that it also implies that we are aware of the eternal consequences of such a sin…I mean, do we have to know, and I really mean know, that such a sin will lead to eternal separation from God and still do it anyway in order for it to be mortal? I could be way off, and please correct me if I am, but I don’t think too many people reflect fully on the consequences of their actions (or inactions) before they are committed.


Yeah I was thinking along those lines too. I know there is a way out, and when we sin, we are hurting Christ, but he died for all of our sins… I just can’t believe we have to make sure we are in a state of grace when we die in order to be surer, that we will go to heaven.

My Anglican friend ( I have mentioned her in other threads ) who is very devout, said that she understands it that people go to heaven if they truly KNOW God, through Christ. If they don’t, or they refuse Him ( ok this could be done through mortal sin in our view ) or do not spend time with Him on earth, then they will end up in a place devoid of God, which is hell. She basically said that why would anyone who rejects God on earth want to spend eternity with Him?

When I sin mortally, yes I reject God’s teaching through my own humanity as a sinner, but I never reject God.

I have issues with not attending mass every sunday. I am a convert and am married to a non Catholic. It is something I have to really work on. I also have issues with contraception. I myself am not contracepting, but my husband is. I know that as long as I educate him on the truth, I am not at fault for his decisions but I do belirve I am in fact at fault. I still think I am condoning the contraception because we are ready to have children, but I would rather wait a few months so that I can have worked at my current job for a year by the time the baby is born so I wil qualify for maternity benefits. !!!

These are re-occuring sins. Murder can be a one time sin. They seem to be at the same level of seriousness… ?


One need to know the church teaches that it is a mortal sin. You don’t need to agree. For certain sins, sins against the natural law like murder or adultery, you don’t even need to know the Church’s teaching. The natural law is considered to be “written on the soul”. A pagan or Muslim who never heard of Christ is still comitting mortal sin by murdering.

God Bless


I don’t think this is what our Lord teaches. If you look at St. Matthew Ch 19. It is clear that to be saved we need to follow the commandments. We can do more to be perfect, but don’t need perfection to be saved.

God Bless

St. Matthew, Ch. 19

16 And behold one came and said to him: Good master, what good shall I do that I may have life everlasting? 17 Who said to him: Why asketh thou me concerning good? One is good, God. But if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. 18 He said to him: Which? And Jesus said: Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness. 19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 20 The young man saith to him: All these I have kept from my youth, what is yet wanting to me?

21 Jesus saith to him: If thou wilt be perfect, go sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come follow me. 22 And when the young man had heard this word, he went away sad: for he had great possessions. 23 Then Jesus said to his disciples: Amen, I say to you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say to you: It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. 25 And when they had heard this, the disciples wondered very much, saying: Who then can be saved?

26 And Jesus beholding, said to them: With men this is impossible: but with God all things are possible.

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