What is sin? Is it an honest mistake? Is it failing? Is it the state of being imperfect?
While related to these ideas, no. Committing a sin is a mistake, but it’s not an honest one. Committing a sin is a moral failure that’s bad for our souls, but some failures can be morally good for us. And while all of us being imperfect, faulted creatures is what leaves us vulnerable to giving into temptation and sinning, we can still be saved from sin through God’s mercy.
Sin, in its simplest terms, is a turning away from God. Everything was created in order and with purpose, and we are ordered towards God. So, when we turn away from God, we are rejecting the way God designed us, the order of creation, and reason.
Fr. Joseph Johnson joined Patrick Conley on The Inner Life to talk about sin, why Church law is more than just a set of rules, and to tell everyone what the key to happiness is.
“That’s contrary to what most people think, which is that sin is just breaking a rule,” said Fr. Joseph. “It’s not a set of external rules that are imposed upon us. We were created in a certain way, and we were created for God.” We were designed to seek God, live in harmony and friendship with Him, and align ourselves with His will. Sin is not just a distortion of what we should do, but rather a rejection of who we are and who we are supposed to be.
Then why is sin so tempting? Why do we desire to participate in something that so directly contradicts our ordered nature?
The key to finding happiness in the ordered rather than pleasure in the disordered is to approach a search for satisfaction in conjunction with Our Lord, not as an adversary. Of course, if we seek satisfaction from the things of the earth without a relationship with God, we will only discover misery and pain. But in chasing the good things of the earth in harmony with God, we will find rest, peace, happiness, and salvation.
That’s why temptation rarely comes in the form of an overtly evil thing. Very often, we are tempted to indulge ourselves in a good thing, but in excess or misappropriated fashion. As St. Thomas Aquinas said, nobody chooses evil. People choose apparent goods that are evils that have disguised themselves through perversion and distortion. Everyone can agree that they want to do the things that will make them happy, but disagreement arises in deciding what it is that will make them happy.
“And that’s where divine revelation has come to our aid, and shown us what makes us happy is love,” said Fr. Joseph. “Love is enfleshed in Christ, and the relationships that we have with one another are supposed to be filled with love. That’s why Christ says all the commandments can be summed up in the love of God and neighbor. They’re not a bunch of extrinsic rules. That’s what love looks like: If you want to be happy, you want to live in love with God and you want to live in love with your neighbor. That’s what happiness is.”
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