Things Happen...Right?


What is the difference between a sin and a mistake?
For me a mistake is when someone did not think through their actions.
Sometimes it is difficult for me to hear people say they made a mistake by stealing, lying, etc.
I do not consider any of my past transgressions a mistake, I thought them through when making them.
It is sometimes difficult for me to understand how God will forgive someone for living years sinfully (I mean, I understand God forgiving people who honestly did not know any better), but I guess when people “should” know better it is difficult for me to understand why.
When I hear about the prophets in the bible like Solomon, David, Moses, Noah, who made some pretty big mistakes. It makes me wonder how smart people really are. LOL. If men can get so close to God and know him intimately, yet they still fail spectacularly sometimes.


I consider a mistake an action or thought that ended up proceeding differently than it was predicted to, or an action that one did not intend to perform that happened, be it due to inventiveness, ignorance, lack of control over oneself. Sin is intentional wrongdoing. I’ll give two examples.

I’m going through the grocery store. I get milk, bread, and cookies. I go to self checkout and scan the bread and milk, and then get a phone call while I scan the cookies. I don’t realize they didn’t scan, pay, and leave without paying for the cookies. In this instance, I made a mistake. I intended to pay for the cookies, but due to my own inattentiveness, left without having done so. Most mistakes are also accidents.

Same setup. I scan the milk and bread, then choose not to scan the cookies and just put them in the bag. I intended to get them without paying. I stole the cookies. That’s a sin.

As to the second part, God forgives all who repent. True repentance (aka perfect reconciliation in the catechism I believe), involves recognizing that you have sinned, and then asking God for forgiveness. Someone who says adultery was a “mistake” for example, without recognizing that they sinned, I would think is not truly repentant. They haven’t taken responsibility for their choices.

I think that, more often than not, until a person has realized that they have sinned, they simply will not ask for forgiveness, as they do not believe they have sinned in the first place. Someone “living sinfully” for many years it’s probably still at this point.


If it was intentional, why would God forgive us our sins? I remember hearing about the story of Zaccheus. I mean I understand why Jesus would hang out with prostitutes. I do not actually think of prostitutes as all that bad. I still see prostitutes as victims.I am sure there are plenty of women who prostitute themselves for money and pleasure. It would be difficult to imagine Jesus would forgive that total selfish jerk or even go out his way to befriend. I guess God’s ways are way above our own.


A mistake is unintentional.
Sins are intentional.


If not intentional, no forgiveness would be needed.



In a sense I see your point. A mistake is just that, without any forethought. A sin can occur with intention or forethought, but later the sinner can realize what he or she has committed or participated in. The latter(sin)can be forgiven in the fact that what was done is regretted. Someone who robs another and perhaps in time truly regrets can be forgiven, esp. with penance and restitution where possible.
If I blow a red light without thinking(and I have)because my mind was elsewhere’ that is a mistake-sometimes very costly. However, if I run the light in order to save time-that is a sin that I may regret and never repeat, knowing that I could have killed someone or myself. This would be forgivable because it has “opened my eyes” and heart.

Remember that the one thief on the cross by Jesus was forgiven for his sins because he acknowledged his sins and repented. The other thief-well, you know.


A sin is immoral, a mistake may or may not be immoral. The sources of sin are ignorance, passion, and malice. Culpability depends on various factors. God actually forgives our malice towards Him and others when we repent and ask to be forgiven in confession.Catechism of the Catholic Church
**1849 **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."121

**1872 Sin is an act contrary to reason. It wounds man’s nature and injures human solidarity.

1868** Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them:[INDENT]- by participating directly and voluntarily in them;

  • by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them;
  • by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so;
  • by protecting evil-doers.
    1853** Sins can be distinguished according to their objects, as can every human act; or according to the virtues they oppose, by excess or defect; or according to the commandments they violate. They can also be classed according to whether they concern God, neighbor, or oneself; they can be divided into spiritual and carnal sins, or again as sins in thought, word, deed, or omission. The root of sin is in the heart of man, in his free will, according to the teaching of the Lord: "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a man."128 But in the heart also resides charity, the source of the good and pure works, which sin wounds.

1861 Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God’s forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ’s kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back. However, although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God.


As far as Jesus hanging out with the sinful and the prostitutes, He saw the potential for the good in them. He didn’t need to save the righteous or “Godly” man, but to open the gates of Heaven and make Heaven available to those in need-such as you and I and all like us. A simple explanetion from a simple mind-mine.


For the sin to be forgiven, you need contrition. A selfish jerk can change his ways and realize that him being that way was wrong. Everyone has the potential to become a saint. Look at St. Augustine.
Also, you have to remember that everyone’s cupability is different. Ignorance is really bliss, when it comes to sin.


I guess. I do not think it completely excuses it.


That isn’t what a priest told me. I didn’t know about a few sexual sins being mortal and when I learned about them in RCIA I wanted confession THEN. He told me not to worry, that I didn’t know. That I wasn’t going to go to Hell for doing something I didn’t know was sinful.
Now, could they have been venial since I didn’t know? I suppose, but venial sins aren’t going to send you to Hell.


Ok I understand.


There is no difference between sin and a mistake; for both diminish the perfection of the human soul.



So if I choose the wrong laundry detergent for my model of washing machine it affects my soul? If a student makes a mistake on an exam it diminishes his or her soul?

No. :rolleyes:


The human soul is already diminished by the mortality of its body; without that there would be no sins nor mistakes.

But a mistake, though it may be catastrophic (ignoring an iceberg warning at sea) or tragic (staying in a bad relationship) does not ruin our connection to God; sin does.

To that extent, sin is worse.



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