What is a “mortal sin”?
John seems to assume that his readers will know what he means by a “mortal sin”, but there also seems to be considerable confusion and debate on the matter today. What is a “fatal sin”; one that so surely leads to death that it is not even worth praying for?
Probably the most common interpretation is that this refers to a sin in which we persist even though we know it is wrong. Over time, the argument goes, we cease to be sorry for it and therefore are no longer able to repent.But that surely won’t do—and if it does, I expect a great many of us are in serious trouble.
Take gluttony (i.e., over consumption, out of control eating, perhaps even idolatry in using food to fill the spaces inside that only God was designed to fill). Just yesterday I ate a whole barbecue pizza at Macaroni Grill. I was comfortably full about half way through. But you know what? I kept going, and boy was it good!
Gluttony, you will remember, is one of the seven deadly sins. But the honest, ugly truth is that doesn’t stop me. And if the number of overweight Christians out there is any indication (a study was done by Purdue, I believe, that showed Christians were more likely to be over weight than the population in general), I’m not alone.
So what are we to make of this text? Well, as is so often the case in Scripture, if we go with what do understand, it may not be quite as tough as sometimes people make it out to be. And so what we need to do is:
*Believe in the Son of God, Jesus Christ, for the sure knowledge of eternal life.
*Pray boldly for one another, confident that God will bring his power and provision to bear in enabling us to accomplish his will.
*Allow Christ to draw near to us and walk with us in such a way that His presence protects us from the evil of the world and helps us to better understand (and embrace)His ways.
In doing this, we can be confident that we have not committed a “mortal sin”; that sinful though we may be, by sticking close to Jesus Christ we cannot help but continue to be radically transformed by His grace and love.