Summary: Discusses the sin of Pride
The Seven Deadly Sins
It has been said time and time again “sin creates a desire to sin”. I have found this to be a very true statement. When I think of the lies that I told as a child, if I got away with the first lie, then it became easier and easier to keep lying. It was only after being caught that I began the process of learning that lying was not a habit that would get me the desires of my heart. When we get involved in sin, and the initial sin produces more sins, it becomes clear that over time the sin clouds our conscience and corrupts our ability to exercise sound judgment when choosing between good and evil. The very subject of sin takes on a different meaning depending on whom you are talking to. In some churches, there are weekly sermons on sin and the hell fire that awaits sinners. In other churches sin is rarely mentioned and the topics focuses on the positive aspects of Christianity. Then there are others who would rather not talk about sin at all since we are all saved by grace and it does not matter.
Inscribed in ancient times at the Oracle at Delphi is the simple statement “Know thyself”. Self-knowledge follows closely behind the knowledge of God and self-knowledge for anyone means knowledge of one own sin. Scriptures says that we are all sinners and for some as long as the sins are not mentioned, they are fine. Here begins the foundation for the history behind the Seven Deadly Sins. The Seven Deadly Sins never occur as a formal list in the Bible. These sins were identified as a group around the same time as the Bible was being translated into a single language. Rather than these sins being identified as a single list in the Bible, they are identified throughout the Bible. The title “Seven Deadly Sins” originated within the Catholic Church, at least back to Pope St. Gregory the Great and St. John Cassian. The letters of the New Testament mention all of these and many others as well. The Seven Deadly Sins are Pride, Greed, Envy, Wrath/Anger, Lust, Gluttony and Sloth. These sins are known as “capital sins” because committing them without repentance would certainly lead to an eternity in hell. Just as we have crimes today that could lead to capital punishment (death sentence) these seven sins would lead to a spiritual death sentence, hell.
As we go through this list one by one, it will be easy to recognize how some of these are inter-connected and can lead to other sins. Let us begin with Pride.
Pride is defined as “an unduly high opinion of oneself.” Seeing ourselves as we are and not comparing ourselves to others is humility. Pride and vanity are competitive. If someone else’s pride really bothers us, then we too have a lot of pride. Excessive pride, arrogance, and haughtiness are the ingredients of the making of a tragedy. Pride and vanity refuse the truth about who we really are and substitute illusions for reality. While vanity is mostly concerned with appearance, pride is based in a real desire to be God, at least in one’s own circle. I was watching an old movie “The Nutty Professor” starring Jerry Lewis on TV the other day. In the movie, he starts out as a nice, timid, goofy college professor. However, when he takes the potion that he created he becomes this loud mouth, arrogant, flamboyant lounge singer who thinks the world revolves around him. He plays this role so well that I begin to dislike him. When he was under the influence of his potion and his alter ego comes out, he begins to live a fantasy that under normal conditions he would be afraid to even contemplate. My point to this is that pride places us in a position where our reality does not necessarily coincide with the real world around us.
The first requirement for pride is spiritual blindness. Any glimpse of God reveals our frailty and sinfulness just as looking closely in a mirror reveals the flaws in our complexion. Operating in pride we can busy ourselves with career, family and even church work, thinking we are being driven by a strong work ethic, moral values or the fire of the Holy Spirit. In reality, we may actually be running away from God by running away from ourselves. Nearly everyone else can see that we are putting on a show except us. Our coworkers may hate us (they are just jealous), our children may self-destruct or leave us (they are ungrateful) and we may never truly pray but merely stand in the presence of a god we have created but still refuse to see. When we refuse to acknowledge God as being our source for everything we accomplish, it becomes about us and we begin to think we actually did something in and of ourselves. Consider the following Scriptures: