Blunders or Sins?
What constitutes sin? The LDS manual, The Life and Teachings of Jesus & His Apostles, states: “Sin is the transgression of divine law, as made known through the conscience or by revelation. A man sins when he violates his conscience, going contrary to light and knowledge – not the light and knowledge that has come to his neighbor, but that which has come to himself. He sins when he does the opposite of what he knows to be right. Up to that point he only blunders. One may suffer painful consequences for only blundering, but he cannot commit sin unless he knows better than to do the thing in which the sin consists. One must have a conscience before he can violate it. (Whitney, Saturday Night Thoughts, p. 239)”.
There is much that could be discussed in that quote. But what I want to focus in on is how this quote illustrates Mormonism’s tendency to diminish sin. Nowhere does the Bible limit the idea of sin to things that we know are wrong – that violate an individual’s conscience. Notice that, according to that quote, a person doesn’t sin if he goes contrary to the light and knowledge revealed to his neighbor. Does that mean if I don’t know something is a sin, it isn’t a sin until I know it? If I didn’t know sexual immorality was a sin, I would not be sinning if I was sexually immoral?
I also checked my Bible Concordance for the word “blunder”. It wasn’t listed. Nowhere does the Bible talk about blunders. Another word that Mormonism has often used instead of sin is “mistake”. Again I checked my Bible Concordance. It wasn’t listed either. In the Bible, everything against God’s will is a sin.
The manual mentioned above contains another example of Mormonism’s tendency to diminish sin. It adds the word “alleged” to Peter’s three-fold denial of Jesus in the courtyard of the high priest. But there is nothing “alleged” in the biblical account of his denial. This manual, however, says that Peter was just obeying Jesus’ command not to tell anybody who he was!
The reason that I am highlighting all this is because minimizing sin is deadly. If I don’t see how often I sin, I will have a higher opinion of myself than I deserve. If I don’t see the extent of my sinfulness, I also won’t be as desperate for help. For me to fully appreciate my Savior, I need to see myself accurately – as someone who desperately needs salvation because I sin so much. May we, first of all, always see how much we sin and then, soberly point out the seriousness of sin to all people, including Mormon friends and missionaries.