The Seven Deadly Sins: Introduction

We’ll spend the next couple of weeks looking at what the Church Father’s and Medieval theologians referred to as the Seven Deadly Sins. There are differing lists in differing generations. I will focus on the following: Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, and Pride.

The Scriptures contain lists of sins and sometimes in sevens. Proverbs 6:16-19 says, “There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.” Paul, possibly alluding to this list, writes of at least ten sins depending depending on how you read Galatians 5:19-21; he writes, “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.” Neither of these lists, however, are meant to be exhaustive, but rather they speak to the totality of our broken condition.

The Seven Deadly Sins are so called because they were believed to the sins from which all other sins spring. Looking at a list of sins which was established hundreds of years ago provides a helpful gut-check for us. Why? Because the World has been at work on us, and if left to ourselves and our own reasoning, we would think we were damned for a whole host of reasons which are neither sinful nor condemned and we would think we safe because we exhibited virtues which are neither encouraged nor applauded by the Scriptures such as being skinny or being liked.

The wordle here is from 1 John 2:15-17 which reads: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world– the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does– comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” John, I believe, is too trying to communicate both the scope of all sins (every sing sin) and the depth of all sin (the root in the heart and mind).

This week we’ll begin with “lust” which is not merely sexual temptation but is the over-desiring of what the Greek’s called “epithumia“. As such, lust, is not merely a man’s desire for good works, but it is also what Francis Schaeffer referred to as coveting God’s godness. Granted, lust precedes sexual immorality and adultery, but it also precedes many other sins as well. One may lust for vindcation or self-rightness as well. Lust is the demand of the heart to have all that it wants, whenever it wants. Lust is at work in the heart of the idolater who makes good things like love, trust, appreciation into ultimate things just as much as it is at work in the man who wishes to possess a woman.

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