I still do not fully understand sin

I thought sins were about the consequences or how you feel. Honestly, there are a lot of rude people who are happy with themselves, they do not experience guilt or loss of sleep. I understand God deals with each person differently. I do not see why having a well-formed conscience is a good thing. It is important not to judge others. I still do not understand how I can feel guilty for lying about something, the next person does not feel it is a big deal or won’t lose sleep over it. Some people say the church is a hospital full of sinners. I just wonder if God only exists for those who do not have a strong identity or confidence in themselves. I feel like God exists for the weak. There are plenty of people who just live their lives according to their own standards of good and evil, which well-formed reasonable standards. Some people seem to be lost without the church. Some people can handle the blows of life without professing the belief in a higher being, attending a church service or following a doctrine. Some people are able to simply grow out of particular sins, they do not need to repent. It is hard to believe God or Jesus is here for everyone. We are all so complex, contradicting and completely different.
Is right and wrong only determined by our inner motives? It is important not to judge the human heart, but I still wonder.
As much as believe in free-will, but some people’s relationships with sins seem to be a soap opera. One day they are fornicating, next adultery, next theft, next sacrilege. While others seem to rarely commit grave sins, they are venial. Some people cannot forgive themselves for committing an offense, while others do not think about certain things at all.

Sin: scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s1c1a8.htm

There are the 10 Commandments & the 7 deadly sins…people know when they are committing sin whether they admit it or not.
A practicing Catholic will admit to being rude, angry or impure and will want to confess those sins to be right with God.

We will all be judged by how we loved God and tried to obey His laws.

Sins may have noticeable negative consequences or make us guilty, but I would not say that is “what sins are about”. The thing about sin is, it is offensive to God! It is true that everyone has an inner desire for good, and everything humans do is for a perceived good or in the pursuit of what one thinks will make one happy (whether it will actually do so or if it is for true good, is, of course, another question). However, some people have not been brought up in the correct way and have not been taught the truth about life and about God, and therefore have blinders up. Some people truly do not know better; some’s conscience may even twinge when they do something that is objectively wrong, but they really don’t know why this happens, and indeed, the secular world and the media would have them think it shouldn’t happen; that nothing is wrong; that morality does not exist. Some people do not have other people in their lives to help them know better.

OK, I got slightly off-topic there. Back to sin - if you truly believe that God is who the Catholic Church (and even some other Christian religions) say He is, then yes, you do too know why it is important to have a well-formed conscience - all sin, no matter how little, offends God, and we should get upset at what offends our loving God, especially at how we ourselves offend God. It is appropriate to be upset at wrongs happening in the world.

No matter how well some people may appear to be “handling the blows of life”, every human being that has ever existed is/has been a broken individual - everyone has the ups and downs, whether they are visible on the external body or on the internal level. The truth is, everyone needs God, and no matter how well life may/could be going without God, we as Christians must spread the message that God loves us unconditionally. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life - any life lived without Jesus is not the right way to live. We as Christians, especially Catholics in full communion with the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church, must always have a heart for evangelization and spreading the word to those who simply do not know any better! This is why our work as Catholics is so important - once people have been exposed to Truth and cooperate with God’s graces, it is binding on them - knowledge of Truth affects one’s way of life, and no matter how many times we fail, is not God pleased with a soul striving for Him, more than a soul ignorant of Him?

You asked about “inner motives”. To some extent, you are correct - yes, we cannot judge or see others’ hearts. Also, some people are truly ignorant of objective truth and for this reason have reduced culpability for some sins. But the reality is, everyone, regardless of their knowledge of God, is a sinner and falls short before God in some way. Are you asking if “right and wrong are only determined by our inner motives” because you believe this, or are you playing devil’s advocate? The Catholic Church teaches that there absolutely is objective truth - one’s individual beliefs does not affect truth. If something is true (e.g. 2+2=4) it is true whether or not one knows about it. In terms of one’s individual culpability, one’s motives can come into play, but this doesn’t change that there is such a thing as objective morality.

Thanks you for your thorough and long response. I truly appreciate it.

What you’ve expressed are the feelings and thoughts so common to us all. Do not be confused or disheartened by not understanding. As life goes on with you, you will begin to understand … not everything, but a lot more than you understand now. :thumbsup:

It has nothing to do with how you feel. Sin is willingly doing something that is evil. Stalin felt no remorse about killing millions in the Gulags under Soviet Communism but it was still the very grave evil of Mass Murder. You might feel no guilt about steeling money from a blind person who can’t identify you, it is still steeling.

If you want to know what sin is, read the 10 Commandments. It doesn’t matter at all how you feel, if you knowingly and willing do them, they are sins.

I do not believe it. Many people bully others. Nothing happens. There is no real guarantee of the next life. Not all sins are weaknesses or result in self-destruction or self-inflicting injury. If you refuse to help the poor, where is the harm done? If you refuse to forgive someone, where is the harm done? My mind wonders too much. Sin is always a choice. You have no choice on what the consequences will be. I feel like if you are intelligent enough then well you can get away with them.

People who bully others may get a punch in the mouth by a bystander someday.
I believe there is judgment in the next life.
We are not commanded to help the poor.
You may refuse to forgive someone, but you are forbidden to hurt them.
No matter how intelligent you are, God knows your heart & you won’t get away with sin.

What don’t you believe? That sin is about more than consequences and feelings?

Many people bully others. Nothing happens.

Does this mean there was no sin?

There is no real guarantee of the next life.

How do you know this?

Not all sins are weaknesses or result in self-destruction or self-inflicting injury. If you refuse to help the poor, where is the harm done?

The harm that lack of love causes.

If you refuse to forgive someone, where is the harm done? My mind wonders too much. Sin is always a choice.


You have no choice on what the consequences will be.

Also true.

I feel like if you are intelligent enough then well you can get away with them.

Except God is even more intelligent and you won’t get away with them.

I still do not fully understand sin
I do not see why having a well-formed conscience is a good thing

No one, including you, can know what God requires of us unless and until we take the trouble to find out. Sin is refusing to do what God requires of us, or doing something wrong, and we are all subject to sin unless we make the effort to find out what is good and what is evil, and practise thinking and doing good.

As a well-formed conscience enables us to better know what action is good and what action is evil it is obviously a good thing, because God punished Adam and Eve for doing what was evil, and the results have been transmitted to all of us as the effects of Original Sin.

It is important not to judge others.

Right, as far as guilt before God is concerned.

Wrong, as far as it is vitally important to judge the actions, speech and writing of all others, against God’s commands, as to whether they are good, evil or simply indifferent. We are commanded to do this, as a means of helping others to see and do good.

Each person is at a different place in their relationship with God.

Some haven’t really started their life with Jesus, but still think of themselves as Catholic.
Some have barely started, some have had a little time in it, and others ok, while others are full fledged.

Each has to grow. What you are seeing is people at various stages in their knowledge and love of God. And some never mature in it, while some are very mature.

Depending on where a person is, that is what they think is ok or not ok. Conscience developes along the way. The Holy Spirit only awakens us to evil as much as we can bear at the moment. As a person improves, they see more and more what is wrong in their lives…that is if they are cooperating with God. That is how saints are made…gradually…growing. If the good Lord revealed everything to us at once, it might be too much for us to bear, and incline us to just give up. But he feeds us the truth about ourselves piecemeal, as much as we can take it.

And so the saying goes…saints think they are sinners, while sinners think they are saints.

And what you are seeing is this diversity.

May God bless and keep you. May God’s face shine on you. May God be kind to you and give you peace.

I understand. You get me fully. What is the good in being closer to God? You won’t have friends. Most people are deliberate sinners. There are very few saints. You must be more humble than most. If God loves and accepts us as we are, why change? This is basically the question I cannot answer. Each person has their own unique strengths and weaknesses. It just gets in the way of my spiritual growth. When I read saints biographies it is appalling some of the things that had to deal with in the name of God. I guess it just does not feel “fair.” Then again Christ was crucified for my sake. C’est la vie.

Imagine your child curses at you. You tell him to stop cursing. And the child asks, why should I stop cursing, it won’t change the fact that you love me and accept me? Because you tell the child it hurts you. If the child learns to love you, he will accept not to curse at you, as it hurts you.

What is the point in being close to your family? You can spend it with friends, or on xbox, or do other things.

As for point about biographies of saints. Well, is it appalling to see the sacrifices made of athletes? Or scientists? I mean, they had to spend a lot of time… effort, sweat etc. etc. But look at their glory! So do Saints have glory. The fact you sacrifice time, effort, and more, for God, shows how much you love him and how much you are willing to commit to him. Otherwise, imagine a world where you want to become an athlete, and no effort is needed, only through the desire, you become manifested into an athlete :slight_smile:

Hope that made some sense. God bless.

I admit that it can be difficult to do what Jesus asks of us. But he is very patient and makes allowances especially in the beginning when we are weak and are struggling with just about everything. He is patient and loving and understanding. The important thing is to understand just how much he does love us so we don’t just throw in the towel.

At this point prayer…simple prayer…is vital. Just to say “Lord help me to want to do what is right”. Ask him to strengthen your desire…your own desire…to want what he wants. And then once you want to do what you should do, it becomes so much easier. It is the struggle with ourselves…not with him… that is the downside. So if you ask for the right things, he promised he would help you. And one of the first things to ask for, that pleases him, is to ask for WANTING to do what should be done to please him.

If we buck ourselves, we are swimming against the tide. We have to WANT first. That is really important. If once you say to yourself I really want to do this now because I see why I must do it…you have almost won the battle. That GRACE of wanting to do what is right is the war…with yourself. Jesus can do this for you…help you to see why you want to do what is right. Then it becomes so much easier.

Even if while sinning…in the act of sinning…always say that prayer…“Jesus help me to want to do what you want.” You have to want it. And Jesus can and will provide you with that “wanting”.

The next thing is, Jesus wants you to stay in your own backyard and work on that…not someone elses backyard. This can be very discourging to look at all the trash in other people’s backyards. Just target your own, and pray for others. And the saints were given the graces equal to their needs of heroric sacrifice. We are only given those as they are needed, and not beforehand.

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

ISIS confidently beheads people based on “their own standards of good and evil”, probably quite “happy with themselves” over it. This should help show us what human “righteousness” can lead to. And it should serve to make the love of one’s neighbor shine as the true golden standard, by contrast, all the more brightly.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.