If I am correct, the Catholic Church teaches that you need to be in the state of Divine Grace at the moment of your death if you wish to go to Heaven.

If you are not, then you are automatically cursed for all Eternity and go straight to Hell.

Let's say a man had devoted his whole life to God, believed in Jesus and lived his life according to what Jesus had said, but prior to his death committed some kind of 'eternal' sin. Still, he didn't stop to believe in Jesus for even a second. Let's say he was caught off guard by temptation and died shortly afterwards.

According to the idea of Divine Grace, he goes to Hell.

My two questions:

1) How can this be just whatsoever ?

2) Where in the Scripture does Jesus say that you will end up in Hell if you are not in Divine Grace state ? If I am correct he doesn't say it at all and the whole concept has been invented by the later Tradition of the Catholic Church, not by Jesus himself.

I'm not trying to offend anyone by asking these questions. I believe in God, Christ and the Scripture. I also have a deep faith that the Church tries to bring us to God as close possible. I'm just trying to figure out the purpose of some of the 'constructs' like Divine Grace and whether they can have such a big impact on our salvation.

  • 2
    You forgot that "All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven." (CCC, §1030)
    – user900
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 13:07
  • @DJClayworth: Oh, I was simply commenting that there's more to it than just heaven or hell according to Catholicism.
    – user900
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 13:42
  • 3
    @Paul I think you are wrong about what Catholics believe. The person you describe would not go to Hell. Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 13:46
  • @DJClayworth it would be great if you could elaborate a little bit more what you mean by that. Especially regarding what has been written up to now by other persons.
    – Pawel
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 22:27
  • @H3br3wHamm3r81 Gives a pretty good explanation. Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 0:44

5 Answers 5


If I am correct, the Catholic Church teaches that you need to be in the state of Divine Grace at the moment of your death if you wish to go to Heaven.

Not only the Catholic Church, but the Bible itself teaches that you must be in a state of grace or status gratiae at the moment of your death if you wish to go to Heaven.

In Rom. 5:1-2, the apostle Paul wrote,

Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God by our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we also have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

The Greek εἰς τὴν χάριν ταύτην ἐν ᾗ ἑστήκαμε, meaning "into this grace wherein we stand," is the basis for the idea of a "state of grace" or Latin status gratiae.1 If you are not in a state of grace, that is, if you do not stand in grace, then you are not saved; you are not justified by faith.

If you are not, then you are automatically cursed for all Eternity and go straight to Hell.

Actually, this is true. If you do not stand in grace, you will suffer eternal torment in Gehenna ("Hell"). The logical corollary of Rom. 5:2 is that if you do not stand in grace, then you do not have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, for it is "by faith" (τῇ πίστει) that one may have "access" (προσαγωγή) to stand in grace. Ergo, if you do not have faith in order to have access to stand in grace, then neither do you have peace with God, nor are you justified by faith (cp. Rom. 5:1).

If you have faith,

  • you are justified
  • you have peace with God
  • you have access to stand in grace

If you do not stand in grace,

  • you do not have peace with God
  • you are not justified
  • you do not have faith

The consequence of the latter is eternal torment in Gehenna.

All this being said, I think you should also know that one may stand in grace (i.e., a state of grace) yet be a sinner. However, if we sin, we must confess and repent of our sins, and "he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). Sin defiles (Mark 7:23), thus the corollary is that if we do not confess and repent of our sins, we are defiled with unrighteousness, but "nothing that defiles shall enter into it" (Rev. 21:27), that is, God's kingdom and New Jerusalem. For those standing in grace who sin without confessing and repenting their sin(s) before death, they must still be purified from the unrighteousness of their sins after death by enduring Purgatory (purification).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, §1030, states,

All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.


The Latin is in gratiam istam in qua stamus. The word stamus is a verb conjugated from the lemma sto. The word status is a noun related to the verb sto; it means "place; position; state; status."

  • ah, you beat me to it. I like your answer better
    – Marc
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 14:45
  • 1
    Thanks @Marc. We were writing at the same time, it seems. :) You didn't have to delete your post! It was a great answer and you deserve a +1 for the time you invested writing it. You should undelete your answer and re-post it.
    – user900
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 14:46
  • 2
    @Marc The SE model works best when there are multiple answers - no need to delete yours just because it might not be the best one!
    – ThaddeusB
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 15:18
  • 1
    @ThaddeusB My answers often seem to stray from the questions and deal more with the accusations posted concerning The Church. I will reflect on what I have written and undelete if I feel after patient assessment that my answer is of some benefit or contributes as well as that of H3br3wHamm3r81
    – Marc
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 15:23
  • @H3br3wHamm3r81, thank you for your answer. What keeps me thinking is that the 'state of grace' is mentioned by Paul the Apostle (as in Rom.) and later developed by the Church (as in Catechism). What Jesus says about salvation is mentioned in Luke 10:25-28. From my point of view the answer to salvation is: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" Anyway, I will stop at this point, as my further doubts would seem to question the existence of the Holy Tradition in some way.
    – Pawel
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 16:07

In order to understand the Church’s teaching, it is important to understand exactly what she means by grace (and specifically “sanctifying grace,” which is the fundamental condition for salvation).

What is grace?

Grace can refer to any gratuitous gift from God; however the kind that interests us here is called sanctifying or habitual grace. What it consists in is the indwelling of God in a person's soul, sometimes called (especially among the Greek Fathers) divinization or theosis. It renders a person pleasing to God, makes us sons and daughters of God, and makes us capable of supernatural love for God. When one has this indwelling, we say that the person is “in the state of grace.” (See the section on grace in the Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC] nos. 1996-2005.)

The Biblical basis for this doctrine

The Bible, of course, does not use this technical theological terminology, but there are references to the underlying reality in the Scriptures. For example,

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire (2 Peter 1:3-4, ESV).

This passage teaches that God, through His power, grants us what is necessary to be partakers of the divine nature. This habitual partaking is precisely what the Church means by sanctifying grace. (See CCC 1997-2000.)

The Church teaches that sanctifying grace is ordinarily received for the first time at Baptism; it is lost whenever one commits a grave (mortal) sin, and recovered ordinarily in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. (In any case, when the Sacrament of Reconciliation is impossibile for some reason, repentance for one’s sins motivated by supernatural love for God is sufficient—although a Catholic is still bound to receive the sacrament as soon as it is reasonably possible). (See CCC 1446 and 1999.)

With this association between sanctifying grace and Baptism in mind, it becomes easier to interpret passages such as

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4).


having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead (Col. 2:12).

or else

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Gal. 3:27).

What it is this “newness of life”? What have we “put on” with Baptism? None other than Christ himself. St. Paul thus confirms that Baptism produces an indwelling of God in our souls, one that produces a new kind of life in us. That is precisely what the Church means by sanctifying grace.

Similar reasoning permits St. Paul to say,

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

All of the supernatural actions that St. Paul is now capable of (faith, supernatural love), even while he is on earth (“in the flesh”), he does thanks to the presence of Christ in his soul.

That Baptism is the normal gateway to this indwelling of God is confirmed by many passages, but I will highlight the following from 1 Peter:

Baptism, which corresponds to this [i.e., the saving of Noah and his family in the Ark], now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 3:21).

Hence, Baptism, which produces a “good conscience” (i.e., forgiveness of sins), also saves us: that is, restores our friendship with God.

The necessity of sanctifying grace for salvation

Why is sanctifying grace absolutely necessary for salvation?

Heaven, first of all, consists in the direct or beatific vision of God, as St. Paul explains:

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known (1 Cor. 13:12).

But a mere creature simply does not have the capacity to bring himself to the Beatific Vision, under his own power. Rather, God must draw him to Himself:

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day (John 6:44).

Moreover, we men are born with a disadvantage; namely, sin and the tendency to sin. Most of us have committed actual offenses against God, and even those of us who have not are born deprived of the indwelling of God. Moreover, all of us easily tend to sinful behavior:

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).

Hence, we are in need of becoming truly righteous (i.e., of justification) and of becoming holy (sanctification). (See CCC 1987-1995.)

God accomplishes this by offering to dwell in our souls, as I noted; and this is precisely sanctifying grace. In other words, we cannot be right with God when deprived of union with Him—which is exactly the same as having sanctifying grace.

Is it just for God to demand the presence of sanctifying grace?

From what we have seen, since sanctifying grace is none other than the very indwelling of God in our souls, our participation in the divine nature (as St. Peter puts it), and going to Heaven consists in a perfect union with God (the Beatific Vision).

God brings us to the Beatific Vision—that is to heavenly glory—precisely by endowing us with a foretaste of that vision here on earth: namely, sanctifying grace.

It should come as no surprise, then, that being in the state of grace is the fundamental condition for going to Heaven.

Those who reject sanctifying grace (by committing a mortal sin), and persist in that rejection until death, are not in a position to enter the even closer union that people have with God in Heaven. They willfully rejected His presence in their soul while they were on earth; as a consequence, they will (unfortunately) not desire His presence, still less His direct Vision, after death.

Therefore, not only is it just for God to save only those who are in the state of grace, that is the only way He could save them. By endowing us with His presence “as in a mirror,” God draws us to Himself until we “see Him face-to-face.” But if we reject His presence, neither can God draw us to Himself.


"To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him forever by our own free choice" (CCC 1033). But it is important to understand what constitutes a mortal sin and the ways mortal sin can be forgiven.

In order for a sin to be mortal, three conditions must be met: (1) The sin must have grave matter, (2) one must have adequate knowledge that it is a grave offense, and (3) one must commit the offense with deliberate consent (CCC 1857–1859). If one of these conditions is not met, the sin will be venial, not mortal.

There are two kinds of sorrow for sin: contrition and attrition, which are called also perfect contrition and imperfect contrition. Perfect contrition does not mean the perfect degree of contrition, but the perfect kind of contrition—that is, sorrow for sins based on charity, or supernatural love of God. Imperfect contrition is sorrow for sin based on anything other than charity (such as being sorry for our sins because we fear the punishment of hell and God’s wrath).

Perfect and imperfect contrition are not mutually exclusive. A person can have both at the same time. Both perfect and imperfect contrition assume the resolve to sin no more. Even with this resolve, it is possible to commit the same sin in the future. What is important is that at this moment in time we make a firm resolution to turn away from mortal sin.

Under normal circumstances, for a mortal sin to be forgiven, it must be confessed in the sacrament of penance. If the penitent has perfect or imperfect contrition for his sin, confesses all his mortal sins since his last good confession, resolving not to commit the sin again, and receives absolution from the priest, his mortal sins are forgiven.

What happens if confession to a priest is impossible, and one is close to death or in danger of dying? Provided a person, finding himself in this situation, has perfect contrition for his mortal sins, and resolves not to sin again and receive sacramental confession as soon as possible, his mortal sin is forgiven. Imperfect sorrow is not contrition under these circumstances.


False Religious definition of STATE OF GRACE. Condition of a person who is free from mortal sin and pleasing to God. It is the state of being in God's friendship and the necessary condition of the soul at death in order to attain heaven.... The biblical response to grace and salvation....1) God alone is holy, Revelation 15:4, mankind is not 2) We are all sinners deserving of Hell. Romans 3:23, for All have sinned and fall short of the glory God. Romans 6:23, for the wages of sin in death. 3) So how does a sinner get into heaven? Romans 5:8, but God demonstrates his own love towards and while we are yet sinners, Christ died for us. 4) What is our response? Ephesians 2:8-9, For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. 5) What is the gift of God? It is the free gift of eternal life through Jesus by Gods amazing grace. Question: what is a gift? It is something given freely without cost or obligation otherwise it is a reward. You don’t work for a gift. 6) So what condemns a person to hell? John 3:18, He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 7) So what if I continue to sin? Even a big one? Romans 11:29, For God's gifts and his call can never be withdrawn. John 10:28-29, And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand....My dear friends, don’t be mislead by all religions that want to add good works to salvation. True biblical Christianity says your saved by grace. Jesus free gift of salvation on the cross is all sufficient. Just believe and trust in his word. He did enough. God is satisfied by his blood payment for all sins, for all time, Romans 3:25. So the question for you is, are you satisfied will Christ payment? What sin have you done that Jesus did not die for? He died for all sins for you and for me!

  • Wall of text is an unacceptable format for an answer here. Please edit your answer into standard prose. Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 2:18

Nowhere in the Bible is there “state of grace”. Grace is defined as unmerited or undeserved favor from God.

By Grace you are saved, Eph 2:8.

Which means you cannot earn heaven by being good.

Now continue reading verse 9.

Your saved by grace and it’s NOT of yourself or NOT of good works.

Also there is nothing in the Bible about committing a mortal sin. If you commit one lie your deserving of hell. One little sin. That’s why we need a Savior. His one time sacrifice on the cross for our sins by Jesus death and resurrection is the only way to get to Heaven.

Titus 3:5a

Not by works of righteousness which we have done but according to His mercy he saved us.

Just believe it!

  • Not by works of righteousness which we have done but according to His mercy he saved us. Titus 3:5a Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 5:20

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