Is Sin Only a Willful Act?


     This post continues the thought begun in my last post, namely, Mormonism’s diminishing of sin.  This comes out also in how it defines sin.  In True to the Faith, a manual recommended by the First Presidency of the LDS Church as a companion to scripture study, under the heading sin it reads:  “When we willfully disobey God’s commandments, we commit sin.  We also commit sin when we fail to act righteously despite our knowledge of the truth (see James 4:17).”

     Is sin really only a willful disobedience of God’s commandments?  In the majority of the world’s society, morality has been on the decline with the result that more and more people have a weakened sense of right and wrong.  Does this mean that Islamic suicide bombers aren’t sinning especially if they see their actions as following God’s will?  Does this mean that if a person doesn’t know that God commands us to lead chaste lives that he or she isn’t sinning by being unchaste?   

     The Bible doesn’t limit sin just to willful disobedience.  Take Jesus’ prayer as he was being nailed to the cross:  “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”  (Luke 23:34)  He would not have had to pray that if sin was limited to willfully disobeying God’s commandments.  Especially sobering is this passage:  “whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” (Romans 14:23).

     Neither does the Bible limit sin only to our actions.  In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus repeatedly talked about the sinfulness of thoughts.  One example:  “But I say unto you, That whsoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in her heart.”  (Matthew 5:28)  And we see this not just in the Sermon on the Mount.  The Bible repeatedly talks about evil thoughts, about sinful lusts, etc.

     But none of this is mentioned in True to the Faith.  In that, it is quite representative of LDS teaching.  Mormonism drastically diminishes sin.

     As I said in my last post, it is vitally important for people to see the extent of their sinfulness.  The more limited and restricted people’s view of sin is, the less desperation they will feel for a Savior.  On the other hand, the more accurate their knowledge is of how of how much they do sin, the more they will be inclined to grasp onto Jesus and his cross for dear life.  That is what I am doing.


8 Responses to “Is Sin Only a Willful Act?”

  1. September 3, 2008 at 2:13 am

    Should I quote from the Book of Enoch and share with you how wrong the Masoretic Text is on Genesis 6:3 about the sons of God coming to the daughters of men being angels?

    You would say that the Coptic version of Enoch is not canon and not part of God’s Inspired word.

    My point is, both your posts that I have read regarding how you view Mormonism and the idea that Mormonism diminishes sin is from a very weak presupposition and lack of honest research on the material.

    Honestly, your posts are very lacking in any intellectual and informative reasoning with no basis of facts at all.

  2. 2 Berean
    September 3, 2008 at 4:55 am

    Timothy Berman,

    “Lack of honest research on the material”. Funny, I sure saw a lot of references and quotes from LDS sources on here. Many LDS sources were referenced on the previous thread. I guess you didn’t bother looking at those either or join in the discussion. The Book of Enoch? No, it’s not reliable. Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon by looking in a seer stone in a hat without the golden plates (David Whitmer, “An Address to All Believers”, p.12; Mormon Apostle Russell Nelson “A Treasured Testament”, Ensign, July 1993). Would that suffice for “honest research on the material”? The Bible calls that divination (magic) and it’s an abomination (Deut 18:9-12).

    Mark can speak for himself, but I think he reasoned it pretty well. I didn’t see a lot of “intellectual and informative reasoning” in rebuttal on your part. May I suggest adding to the discussion instead of posting talking points with nothing to add to the topic.

    On topic:

    We sin by breaking God’s commands (sins of commission) and when we don’t do the things He wants us to do (sins of omission). We sin unintentionally. We are not aware of every sin we commit.

    Psalm 19:12 – “Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.”

  3. September 3, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    The question, Mark, is one of accountability. Do you view a child as innocent or guilty if they do that which they do not know to be wrong? It all goes to your inturpratation of humans being born innocent or in error.

    How can we be held accountable for that which we know not of? It is the act of curlity to charge and hold someone to account for a wrong they did not know was wrong.
    My God is a loving Father, not a curle Tyrant.


  4. September 4, 2008 at 2:19 am

    Berean –

    Honest research will show that Jude (New Testament Canon) quotes directly from the Coptic version of Enoch. The Book of Enoch is more historically reliable than what these posts are claiming to be. They are weak arguments focused on one singular effort – to show forth one’s attempt at resolving presupposed inadequacies. No, true honest research will show forth that the doctrines of the LDS Faith do not diminish Sin, but that LDS Doctrine addresses the Believers Accountability to a Holy Sovereign God by taking responsibility for their actions. Christians come to the cross and stay at the Cross and say this is the end all be all answer.

    Yes, Christ is the Answer, but there is more than just Christ having died on the Cross for the sins of Man, but that he also rose from the Dead and has given all men the opportunity to rise from not only their spiritual death, but also from physical death. Yes, because of Adam’s transgression, sin came into the world, so also mortality and death.

    If you have no joy, would you truly understand pain? If you have no sadness in your life how would you define happiness? If you have no peace how would you define unpeaceful? You can’t.

    Without Mortality, man would remain in a state of innocence and perfection that is immortal. Man would not suffer from disease, heartache. Man would not know what love is, or understand and appreciate that which is beautiful. Man would not understand what it means to grieve or what it means to lose something.

    No, Christians would like all to believe that Adam’s Sin was the most vile thing he could do. I agree, Adam did sin and his sin was disobeying God and because of Adam’s sin, mankind (up until Christ) suffered under this condemnation, but Christ took upon himself the sin and made an appropriate atonement.

    No, Christians would like to sight LDS Sources out of context and make out of context claims trying to prove something they can’t prove wrong because it does not exist. Yes, I believe in honest intellectual discussions and I am calling the person out (like I am calling you out) with regard to your lack of understand the LDS Position and doctrines.

    No, Mormonism does not diminish sin, it understands the concept of sin and death and the much need of a Savior to redeem mankind from their fallen state of existence and provide hope beyond their mortal life. Yet, unlike Christian believers, LDS Believers have passed from the Cross of Calgary, from the Garden of Gethsemane, and even beyond the empty tomb to embrace the true christian life that Paul talks about in Romans 12 – Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. How does one be transformed by the renewing of their mind? Understanding the simple principles of the Gospel. What are these simple principles? Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, mind and strength and love they neighbor as thyself. Why? Because upon these two great principles hang all the prophets and the law.

    Yes, Mormonism teaches the need for a redeemer, the need for repentance and the need to live a Christ Like Life that honors the Savior and our father in Heaven. Christians can’t get past this truth because – again, they are stuck at the cross thinking that it ends at the cross. The cross of Calvary was only the beginning, not the end.

  5. 5 Berean
    September 4, 2008 at 5:30 am


    Thanks for your answer. First, in regards to the Book of Enoch, it must not have been more reliable than the book of Jude because the early church fathers found it to be in error and not inspired by the Holy Ghost to be included in the biblical canon. If Joseph Smith restored Christianity to what it should have been and this book is more authoritative than the book of Jude then I would expect to see the Book of Enoch included in the Book of Mormon or somewhere else in the LDS standard works. I would not expect to see the LDS Church stamp outside of my KJV Bible that includes Jude if this is not reliable and authoritative.

    You stated: “Christians come to the cross and stay at the cross and say this is the end all be all answer.”

    I’m not sure what you mean by that and I’ve been a Christian for many, many years and have never heard that before nor do I know any Christian believes that (in the way that I think you are implying it). Christians believe in much more past the cross. We also believe in the resurrection of Christ, the gospel of salvation that is available to mankind that we can have eternal life and resurrection through the Savior. Again, I’m not sure where you are getting your information on Christianity. If you are getting it from LDS sources then I highly recommend that you get your information outside of LDS safety zones. I get my information on Mormonism from LDS scriptures, church publications, institute and seminary manuals, conference talks, Ensign magazine, etc.

    Mormons don’t believe in original sin as stated in Articles of Faith #2. Christians do as stated in Romans 5:12; Psalm 51:5. If Adam’s sin in the garden wasn’t “the most vile thing he could do” as you state Christians believe, then what was the most vile thing Adam did sin on? Mormons not thinking that man is born with original sin leaves only one conclusion: mankind is born inherently good. Correct? I don’t see any validation for that in the New Testament. Where does our sin nature come from then? Do we have to learn how to sin or does it just come naturally? Very young children don’t have to be coached on how to tell lies and commit other sins. Children are sinning long before the age of eight. They may not understand what they are doing, but their behavior is indicative of a sin nature that readily comes out.

    Look at what Paul said in Romans 7:15-24 & 1 Tim 1:15. Paul said he was the worst of sinners. Jesus came into the world to save sinners. What are people today in God’s sight? They are sinners? Mormons have placed the age of accountability at 8 years old. Is that the point when a person goes from being born inherently good to being a sinner? If that isn’t the case, then what does “age of accountability” mean? Why is baptism necessary for a youth at that age? What if that young person has no faith or rejects the savior at that point? Will the LDS church baptize them and seal him/her to the parents regardless?

    What LDS sources have been taken out of context? When I give a source I write the entire quote out and give the reference right down to the page. I understand LDS positions and doctrines very well. I spend a great deal of time reading LDS materials, church manuals and LDS scriptures and have been now for a very long time. What I find is that Mormons don’t do the same thing and are ignorant on many of the teachings of their church. I have asked Mormons I know that have been in the Church their entire lives (50-60 years) very simple questions from what I am reading and they look at me with puzzled looks on their faces or with shock. They are fed “milk” in the ward and nothing else. Mormon intellectuals are the rare breed. The vast majority of Mormons that I run into are clueless on what the church teaches. When I can read in institute and seminary manuals what the church teaches on sin I think I have a very clear picture. If you look back on the last few topics I have quoted exactly what is stated about sin from the LDS Church. Look at the thread topic “Blunders or Sins” where I quote Dallin Oaks and then the church manual “Preparing for Exaltation” on what it said about original sin. Those weren’t my words. They were the church’s words.

    Christianity is centered on the cross of Calvary for that is where our sins were atoned for (1 Pet 2:24) when we put our faith in Christ to be our Savior. Our evidence of the risen Savior is the empty tomb. If there is no empty tomb and Christ isn’t risen from the dead, then our faith is in vain (1 Cor 15:13-14). Our hope is in His return and His glorious appearing (Titus 2:13). Again, I don’t know where you are getting your information about Christianity.

    Your claims of Christians distorting, misquoting or taking out of context what the Mormons believe could be equally put to your charge regarding Christianity.

  6. September 5, 2008 at 11:05 am

    I actually used to be an LDS Apologist, left the Church and became a Christian Apologist embracing the doctrines of Original Sin.

    What got me to thinking = you claim that every person is born with an “inherint” disposition to sin. This is physically, psychologically and physiologically wrong. How so? How could a child born with severe mental defect or physical handicap understand the concept of right or wrong when their physical and/or mental state of existence prevents them from developing intellectually or physically and prevents them from engaging in sinful acts, thoughts and behaviors (lying, stealing, etc).

    That is the million dollar question the Bible doesn’t address. Unless you are the cold hearted kind of Christian that says “Babies who die in their state of innocence are unsaved”. Which is the reason for infant baptism to secure them for salvation. Which is biblical unsound.

    No, Paul relates the fact that because of Adams disobedience, sin entered into the world and exists within our mortal life. But also did death. Christ brought life and hope into the world.

    I get my sources from my previous studies and from Christian arguments such as yourself. Because I spent several years attacking the LDS Faith.

    Christianity has it wrong. I can honestly say that with much authority. Again, honestly research and step out of your predisposition of CARM or Mormonism Research Ministry and do some honest research on Religion in the Ancient Near East in general and on the Historicity of the Bible outside of the Conservative Christian Scholars. You will find much more authoritative information than the tunnel vision conservative Christian thinking and teaching.

  7. 7 Berean
    September 5, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    Timothy Berman,

    I’m a little confused as to what position you are trying to put forth here. I gather that you are not a Mormon anymore since you said you left the church and that “Christianity has it wrong.” So which is it? A free thinker? Agnostic?

    No, I’m not “the cold hearted kind of Christian that says, ‘babies who die in their state of innocence are unsaved’.” I have never heard a Christian or a Christian leader/pastor ever say such a thing. I agree, infant baptism is unbiblical and the reasons are numerous. I’m not a Catholic, but a Protestant. That is one of the things that lead the Protestants to “protest” among other things hundreds of years ago what the Catholic Church was doing and infant baptism is one of them. Baptism follows a person’s wilfull acceptance of the Savior. Baptism doesn’t bring eternal life. Baptism is an outward profession of an inward faith that has already occurred through spiritual regeneration.

    The “million dollar question” that you mentioned is answered in the Bible. The Bible states that God is a righteous judge (Psa 19:9; 96:12-130). For Mormons or anyone else to think that God is going to send to eternal damnation those infants/children or those that never heard the gospel of Christ shows a real lack of faith on the fairness of the God as outlined in the Bible as a righteous judge. Nobody is going to hell that doesn’t belong there. Likewise, nobody is going to be denied heaven that should be there. Read Romans 2:12-16. That is a pretty clear answer on both of these situations.

    When Mormons baptize a child at the age of 8 is that biblical? No. Where does the Bible talk about the “age of accountability”? It doesn’t. When a person has the mental capabilities to either decide to reject or accept the Savior and the gospel message is not the same for every person. For some it might be very young. For others it might be much older. For some it might not be ever if they are mentally ill or handicapped. I believe in the righteousness, love and fairness of Almighty God to decide those matters and I believe he has all those attributes.

    Authority? What authority? If you say that Christanity has it wrong, then I assume you aren’t a Christian. I will await your answer. Until then, if you are not a Christian, you have no biblical authority and neither do the Mormons with their unbiblical claims of a restored Melchizedek priesthood. As a beliver in Christ, He has given me authority as one of his children when it comes to proclaiming truth (John 1:12 – LDS: see footnotes at the bottom of the KJV Bible – “authority”).

    I have not isolated myself within conservative Christianity. I have tested out the claims, beliefs and faith of the Christian faith as outlined in the Bible. Have you been to the Holy Land and done some investigating and researching? One of my great passions is the study of comparative religions. I have done this with Mormonism and others. In Mormonism, I have studied the writings of the prophets and apostles, studied LDS publications (seminary and institute manuals), read & studied LDS scriptures and conference talks, read the Ensign magazine and have talked with Mormons for years. Most importantly, I have gone to Mormons wards and attended the Gospel Essentials and Gospel Doctrines classes. I learned Mormonism from Mormons and their sources. Most Christians that know me think I am out of my mind for attending ward services and going to the classes. If that isn’t “stepping out” of my “tunnel vision of conservative Christian thinking and teaching” then I don’t know what is? I don’t see any Mormons at my church wanting to learn about Christianity.

    For those reasons, that is why I come to blogs like this one and the one at Mormonism Research Ministry to discuss with Mormons my findings in the attempts to reason and dispute from the scriptures (Acts 17:2,17; 19:8-9) their unbiblical errors. Mormons love to call this “attacking”. Everything has to be an attack. Mormons have a real persecution complex that is drilled in their heads by the Church. I have never thought once about a Mormon attacking me even when they have called me insulting names. Somehow if a Christian asks a Mormon a question and it’s too hard, too tough or makes the Mormon uncomfortable then think that person is attacking them and they are labeled an “anti-Mormon”. Funny, it never goes the other way for Mormons being anti-Christian in what they say to us.

  8. September 5, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    I tend to find it hard to pigion-hole people. Instead I think one can ascribe to many “Lables” and we can find a clearer view of others when we allow ourselves to see past the Lables and get to the personal ideology of the indivisual. It is how this personal idiology fits into the “Monomyth” that we can relate to eachother’s beliefs.

    If someone says ther prescribe to a belief system and then share something from outside that system, it is not Hyprocy, nor is it Diceptive, it is honest. I would not suggest anyone fully emersed into any religion would adhear directlly to that docturine without also having beliefs beyond that docturine.


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