Why not do sin all your life and confess on your deathbed

This, very much this.

Your other three points important as well. Great answer, quite complete.

1 Like

I don’t know about canonical teaching but I think I have an understanding of common sense. You know not the day or the hour when we will die. all those people who went shopping at Walmart in El Paso thought that they were going to go home some time later that day. If they were planning on waiting until they got old and ill on their death bed then they made a big mistake.


If this was motivated by a desire to able to do what you like, but effectively use the sacrament of Baptism as a means of doing so without consequences, I think that could be a very dangerous game to play.

That could be regarded as a case of using the rules to get around God’s judgement. I think that God is not bound by any rules, so if man tried to use God’s own rules to get around him, I think that may be playing a very dangerous game.


The risk part has already been answered. You do not know where and how you will die. You will also have to find a confessor, remember all your sins and have contrition for your sins. You also won’t have much time to live in grace and enjoy the fruits of the confession.

But I think this is not the right way to think about this. Because technically speaking, some people do convert at the last instant of your life and go to heaven. But why wait till death to taste heaven when you could do so right here?

Jesus says change your ways because the kingdom of God is near. Heaven and hell are both closer to us than we can imagine. When we deliberately sin, we live a sort of hell on earth. As one poster said, you miss out on Holy Communion, which for me would be worse than any punishment in hell.

And can you think of all those amazing graces you would have received had you confessed earlier and how many more lives you could have touched by your holy life?

Remember you have one life and it is not worth it to sin all your life. The best answer would be that saints do not wait for heaven to be happy, they’re happy right here on Earth by shunning sin and loving God. The fallacy here is that sin procures happiness while virtue makes us sad. Look at the lives of the saints, this is simply not true. The more we practice virtue, the easier it becomes and once we stop sinning, these sinful pleasures no longer seem to be as attractive as they used to be.

So why wait till death to be reconciled to God and live in heaven when heaven itself come to us at each Mass. Why postpone your happiness to a later date?

1 Like

Jesus was very clear on this matter :

Jesus made the statement “many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first” (Matthew 19:30)

My understanding is.

If we believe in God (faith) then we are required individually to up hold his WORD.

There are some who do not believe or have faith in God.

Remember Jesus came to save the sinners not the righteous.

Loving God is not an easy choice. To deny him is easy and live without remorse . But God thinks very differently from humans.

As mentioned Jesus was very clear also : Luke 12 Be Ready for the Lord’s Coming

1 Like

Lots of things wrong with the “commit sin your whole life and confess on your deathbed” approach.

  1. You don’t know when you’re going to die or if you’ll have a chance at a deathbed confession. You could die a sudden death and have zero time to repent directly to God, much less confess to a priest. You could die alone with no priest around, or die before a priest could get there. The Final Judgment might also occur.

  2. To think, “I’ll just go ahead and sin and confess it before I die” is a variation of “I’ll just go ahead and sin, I can confess it later” which is the grave sin of presumption. Thinking like this is itself committing a serious sin.

  3. If you’re in mortal sin and unconfessed, then you can’t receive the Holy Eucharist. Catholics generally put a high value on receiving Jesus in the Holy Eucharist regularly.

  4. If you’re committing sin throughout your life, you’re not doing what you’re supposed to do on earth, which is love and serve God and love your neighbor. Confession’s not meant to be a “get out of jail free” card that we use near the end of our life to avoid Hell, instead it’s meant to help us learn how to live properly on earth the way God wants us to live, day to day.

  5. As someone else said, if you live your whole life in sin, and not thinking of God, you’re going to have a hard time being truly repentant and contrite at the end of your life. You won’t have developed the love of God and wish to do his will and make him happy, because you’ll have spent your life just thinking of your own pleasures and desires.

  6. Finally, as I’ve said before on here, the idea of just wanting to avoid hell is a pretty low level of spiritual development. What we really should strive for in life is to love God and build a relationship with him throughout our lives on earth. That’s a higher level of spiritual practice than just being motivated by how we can game the system to avoid hell. I personally would not find much joy in my religion if it were all about “hmm, how can I commit as many sins as possible but still not go to hell?” I barely even think of hell because I am concerned with trying to have a better relationship with God. And believe it or not, when you focus on getting to know God better, sin doesn’t look all that appealing.

As I understand it, the Church during earlier times in its history didn’t have frequent confession as we have it today. It was typical for people to confess maybe once during their lifetime, and of course near the end of one’s life would be a logical time to do it because you are less likely to commit more sins if you’re close to death. Holy Communion also wasn’t much of an issue, because in those days most people were considered too unworthy to receive Jesus in the Eucharist, even if they went to confession. You had to get the special permission of your confessor to receive, and even saintly people who went on to be canonized often had trouble getting permission. However, since about the 1600s the Church has encouraged the faithful to receive Holy Communion frequently, which generally means people need to confess regularly in order to stay in a state of grace to receive.


I think this question reveals what I believe is the biggest misconception among Christians. The point of living as a Christian is not earning your way into a higher quality afterlife. I call that the retirement theory of religion. Its the idea that you are supposed to refrain from what you really want to do in this life as an investment into the next.

That is not Christianity. I am not sure its even moral.

We should, each of us, live a good, proper and moral life for its own sake. Jesus was not just teaching “one weird trick” to getting into heaven. He taught us the best way to live this life, to have a good life, to enjoy life, to live well with one another. Living a moral life is not a burden to be borne for the sake of the future - its the best and most joyous way to live this life.

If I were to learn definitively today that there is no afterlife, I would not live tomorrow any differently. If that is not true for you, then I would respectfully suggest a reexamination and realignment of your view on faith, religion and morality.


Beside the fact that death could come so suddenly that you may not even have a chance to confess/repent, living a life of obstinate sin doesn’t bring happiness. Often sin brings hurt to ourselves and to people around us. We all are broken and sin, but we should not stop trying to do better and live in God’s Grace and in His Love and Peace.

1 Like

This is an interesting point. A lot of ethical atheists and agnostics end up arriving at this conclusion; they try to live decent lives and love their neighbor because they think it’s an ethically correct thing to do. Some of them even think of their only “legacy” as being whatever good they were able to do on earth, or being able to touch the lives of others in a positive way. While this works for some people, I don’t think it would work for me personally because there are too many different dueling systems of “ethics” out there (for example, some endorse “ethical” suicide, or “ethical” abortion, etc) and ultimately all the human reasoning in this area does not provide enough motivation for me to want to continue living on earth, especially after loved ones die. I’d probably just check out of life at some point and reason that I was doing an ethical thing by freeing up the planet’s resources for somebody who wanted to still live here.

However, the idea of living for God, as God intends and to love God with the ultimate goal of being with God in heaven puts a way different spin on it.

The thing about the afterlife for Christians is that it’s not just perpetual happiness, it’s being united with God. We’re supposed to be striving to become more like God while we’re still on earth, so that we progress closer to this goal all the time. It’s not so much that we give up sinful pleasure X in order to earn 10 points towards “higher quality afterlife”, it’s that we avoid sin in order to progress closer to the goal of being holy and with God. We are basically put on earth to progress in this way. This is also a precept of many world religions including non-Christian ones; sometimes rather than a “God” concept they have some concept of perfection that we are seeking to attain, but the bottom line is that there’s more of a goal than just punching all the ethically correct buttons on earth.


So I thought about this after converting recently. “Wait, why didn’t I just wait till I was 80, then it would have been much easier!”

The major error in this way of thinking, as far as I can tell, is that we treat repentance in a very flippant way. “Oh God, my bad, I did these things, forgive me”. For me, it does not work that way. It needs to be true repentance, and for you to truly repent - you need to know the true horror of your sin. I feel it every time I lapse and look at pornography. The guilt is crushing. My cross becomes so, so heavy, my knees would give out if it were not for Jesus there to help me. I call upon him, in that moment, I utterly and truly repent. Even though I may fall again in the next month, next week, next day or even the next hour! Of course I fight my sin, but the first man, and even the angels fell to sin! who am I to think I would continue some perpetual state of purity?

Another thing is that after a life of sin, you would probably not even be in the state of mind of believing in confession anyway.

1 Like

Read the book of Romans, especially–oh, is it around chapters 6–8? Where Paul asks if he should sin more, that grace may abound. (Answer: No.) If you truly believe in Christ, then you are a new creation and cannot pursue a life of sin.

1 Like

Great answers here. And @hopeful.sinner makes an excellent point. If you live a life of sin you won’t even see the point in confessing on your deathbed. That is unfortunately the problem with many in the West today.

I have one thing to add. And from a purely physiological and psychological point of you, sin is addictive. If you wait too long to confess, you are likely to fall into more and more sin. The more you sin, the harder it becomes for you to give it up and the harder to live a life of grace and communion with God.

And since heaven is communion with God, you won’t even want to go to heaven. Which is why God’s mercy must not be abused. Yes, God has given us free will but if we misuse it now we are likely to misuse it later. That is how people end up in hell. They freely choose to go there because they don’t even see much point in heaven or confession.

1 Like

This is similar to my own view (but maybe not exactly the same). I would not phrase it in the negative - avoiding sin. I would frame it purely positively - live a good life, where “good” encompasses morality, faith and love. In my opinion, Heaven is not meant to be joy to compensate us for pain. It is meant to be a perfect version of the type of life we cannot live perfectly in this life. We cannot be perfectly holy and totally with God in this life, but we try to do so. The idea of heaven is that we will be able to attain that state, which we is not attainable on the mortal coil. We are trying for heaven on earth, knowing we cannot achieve it, but hoping we will see it someday.

Not sure that is at all coherent, but that is more or less my view (at least today).

1 Like

I believe Augustine covers this in his Confessions. “Oh master, make me pure, just not yet” was his quote.

1 Like

While we live our lives, we’re always serving someone.

If we live with love and charity, we do our best to serve God. Yeah, we’ll fail at times, and sometimes we deliberately fail, but there’s still that conscious movement towards God.

If we live immersed in selfishness and willfulness, we’re not serving God. So who gets the claim on our soul then?

When we’re judged, what do we think a judgment is like? Is it a Bingo scorecard?

Judgment is a place where there’s no excuses, no explanations, no justification for circumstances, but just Reality. You’re faced with the good you did, and the good you failed to do, on top of the effects of the bad you actively chose.

If Jesus could say—

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

what more would you expect him to say about someone who had a plan like the one in Post #1?

1 Like

My own take on this is that, assuming you avoid the careening busses and the falling pianos all your life, you could not make such a deathbed confession without an extraordinary grace from God. And you have no guarantee that God would give you such a grace.

Another thought: how many people will you have helped send to hell in your deliberate life of sin?


There’s several reasons. Most obvious is that we aren’t guaranteed a death we can plan for. As my state’s recent mass shooting has attested to, our lives can be demanded of us at any point.

Perhaps most important is that sinning hurts God, and if you’re going to wait until “your time is up” to try and make things right with Him (and you’ve been planning for it to happen this way), then I would have my doubts that your deathbed confession was made out of love for Him.

1 Like

As others have said, judgment comes like a thief in the night–you may not get that opportunity and you are unlikely to be contrite as a life of sin can harden one’s heart to the grace of final perseverance, which is necessary for salvation.

Better to take up your cross and follow Jesus starting immediately, repenting and confessing your sins if you fail along the way, and always praying for the gift of final perseverance and to be spared an unprovided death. Pray also for the dying.

1 Like

If you’ve spent your whole life saying NO to God, I can’t imagine that you’d be able to suddenly turn on a dime and give God your eternal yes with any kind of sincerity.

1 Like

If you did, you’d regret it.

Honestly, the Prodigal Son gave himself a dope slap and said to himself: Why am I starving and living like a slave among pigs when life is gracious even for the servants in my father’s house?
That’s the question we ought to be asking ourselves when we see we are enslaved by sin. Divine law is not God’s arbitrary crusade to ruin our fun. It is a prescription for the kind of happiness that actually can last forever. As the profligate son in the story learned, the welcome is even better than we could hope.

1 Like
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.