Recently, I’ve been heartbroken over the sin and brokenness in our world. Often we see this kind of sin committed from afar, but over the past week or so, it has been in my back yard. I’ve seen several men confess and repent of secret sin and another take his own life because the weight of his sin felt too immense to confess. I’m not naive to know that throughout our world sin is rampant and seemingly growing even more evil. It’s just that this week, sin hit a little closer to home and broke me.
Not a Stranger to Sin
For those of us who know and love Jesus, we are no stranger to sin. At some point in our lives, we confessed and repented of our sin in surrender to Christ as Lord. We know the story of Scripture, that all of humanity was created in the image of God, perfect before God. We know that the Enemy entered the story, enticing the first humans to disobey God and therefore sin. Sadly, we know that Adam and Eve did in fact sin and thereby separate themselves from their Creator. While countless generations separate us and our first ancestors, we readily recognize that sin has infected us all even today. One theologian describes creation before sin as shalom, the Hebrew word for peace. He further describes shalom as the “universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight—a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed, a state of affairs that inspires joyful wonder as its Creator and Savior opens doors and welcomes the creatures in whom he delights.”1 That sounds incredible! Why would we want anything less than shalom? Sadly, we crave more, and in craving more, we sin. We sin because we simply do not believe God is as good as he says he is.
While we know that sin is a disease we all struggle with, we must also recognize that “sin has a thousand faces.”2 The church has recognized this as well, particularly through the “Seven Deadly Sins.” For those unfamiliar with the seven deadly sins, they include pride, envy, wrath, sloth, greed, gluttony, and lust. At this point some of you may be saying to yourself, “I’ve never read that list verbatim in Scripture.” You would be correct. Nevertheless, while these sins are not listed out in exact order in a single passage, they are found throughout Scripture. This list is first found in the fourth century in the writings of a church father named Evagrius of Pontus. In his work, On the Eight Thoughts, Evagrius discusses eight evil thoughts. His protege, John Cassian, would also discus this list, and finally, Gregory the Great, the bishop of Rome from 590-604, condensed the list to the seven we know today.3
Certainly this list of seven sins has been abused and misused. For instance, we know that these seven sins are not the only “deadly” sins; all sin is deadly as it separates humanity from God. Still, we should recognize that these seven sins are “deeply ingrained, character-shaping habits of the heart.”4 These seven sins are more than just actions or behaviors. They are firmly entrenched in our hearts, causing us to seek for shalom apart from God. These seven “deadly” sins become habitual sins that strangle the life out of us.
Because we know and recognize that our lives are characterized and sadly rooted in sin, you and I must fight sin. Over the next seven weeks, we are going to investigate the seven deadly sins, not to simply know and understand them at a greater depth, but to know how to fight and defeat our sin. As we learn more about these seven deadly sins and how to kill them, I pray that we would not look to our own strength but the completed work of Christ on the cross. Only through Jesus can we find victory of the seven deadly sins and all other sins.
1Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Not the Way Its Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995), 10.
3Brian G. Hedges, Hit List: Taking Aim at the Seven Deadly Sins (Minneapolis: Cruciform, 2014), 13.