Summary: We get to know the ancient list of seven dealy sins and begin to combat them.
The Michael Vick saga reminds all of us of the human problem of sin. Gambling, which is at the base of dog-fighting might be defined as greed. Vick originally lied to Atlanta Falcons owner, Arthur Blank about his involvement, because one may suggest that in his pride, at that time he wanted to protect himself. Vick’s friends who lived at his Surry County property in Virginia didn’t have jobs but they lived off of Vick’s coattails and their gambling proceeds. That is the sin of sloth or laziness. In ancient times, early church leaders used to talk about the sins of pride and greed and sloth as well as 4 other primary sins that where called the seven deadly sins. They are still very real in our age and culture.
Sin is real. Several years ago, Bill Bennett, former Education Secretary and author of the book of Virtues and Catholic by faith was discovered to be a heavy gambler in Las Vegas. Bennett in an interview following the disclosure in the media, apologized for gambling and said he would quit gambling all together. Bennett quipped to a Fox News reporter in an interview at that time, ‘Apparently what happens in Vegas, doesn’t stay in Vegas.’
We may be uncomfortable talking about it, but sin is a hard truth. We try to ignore sin or pretend it’s not there. But sin it not a vacation spot, that we visit then come home to be normal again. We don’t go to Vegas and then leave it all behind. Now don’t misunderstand. I am not talking about physically being in Las Vegas, Nevada. But rather we carry with us our sins wherever we go and we have trouble laying them down, because sin stays in us.
We sometimes even try to convince ourselves that that evil in our world is caused by sick people who aren’t anything like us. But the truth remains; sin is real and it has a part in each of us.
I want us to go deep into the Bible for the next several weeks. For in the scripture is the answer to our struggle with the world and sin.
Do you remember when Jesus went into the garden of Gethsemane to pray the night of his capture? The disciples who were with him fell asleep and Jesus said to them. (Matthew 26) “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?”… 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
Notice he said one hour, not all night, not for 3 and a half-hours. It was one hour, the disciples couldn’t do it. Every once in a while someone will fall asleep in worship. Has that ever happened to you? We think, what do I do? Do I nudge them? Maybe if I cough loudly they will awaken. I don’t know this person, I’m not going to touch them.
Jesus when he woke up his sleeping disciples said, The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Now we use that phrase a lot in our modern vocabulary as we dismiss our shortcomings and failures. And there are so many ways we can stumble.
Pope John the 23rd who died in 1963 said, “There are three ways a man can be ruined; women, gambling and farming. My father chose the most boring.” I say that with apologies to those of you who grew up on a farm.
As we start this study really on how to conquer the weaknesses of the flesh so we can live more fully for the Lord. We need to be real about what goes on in our heads. Let’s be up front about what truly tempts us. And we want to be plain spoken about how God can help us live a better life.
Proverbs 26:11 says “As a dog returns to its vomit”, (and if you have lived on a farm, you have seen that happen) so a fool repeats his folly.” For many of us sin has a repetitive nature to us. It is a habit and we hate ourselves that we cannot break it.
Years ago at the very beginning of the church, early church fathers compiled a list of what they called capitol sins. By the forth century the early monastic movement had identified 8 sins that were of the most serious nature which had to be defeated in the life of a believer or inner spirituality they said could be lost. In the 6th century Pope Gregory the Great reduced the number from 8 to 7 and listed them in a catechism. They even listed the sins by color and gave an animal likeness to each. For example envy was green and gluttony was a pig. They even told of the punishment to come in hell for each sin. For example the person of sloth would be put in a pit of snakes. But since the middle ages the church universal has held this list which we call “The Seven Deadly Sins.” The seven are in order, Pride, Greed, Envy, Anger, Lust, Gluttony and Sloth.