Summary: As we think about the Deadly Sins, that raises a fundamental question, “What is sin?” The Bible doesn’t give one definition of sin. There is one primary word in the Greek NT which is used are most often for the word sin, hamartia. Hamartia was used in arc
The Seven Deadly Sins
Several years ago, Bill Bennett, former Education Secretary, a devout Catholic and the author of “The Book of Virtues” 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 altogether. In an interview with a Fox News reporter he said, ‘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 it or pretend it’s not there. But sin is not a vacation spot that we visit and enjoy ourselves in excess only to come home to be normal again, leaving it all behind. Rather we carry with us our sins wherever we go and we have trouble laying them down, because sin stays in us. We are about to start the season of Lent, a season of soul-searching, evaluation of our lives and repentance of our sins. Most of us never really take the time to evaluate our lives, let alone to name and confess our sins. In fact, in most churches today, there’s very little mention or discussion about sin. We act almost as if sin isn’t real. But the truth is, sin is real and it has a part in each of our lives. It is a constant battle. As Jesus noted in the Garden of Gethsemane when he found the disciples asleep while he was praying, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” The same can be said about our following God’s will in our lives and why we sometimes fall short and sin: “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”
So what better time to talk about sin than during the season of Lent? Today we begin a new series, “The “7 Deadly Sins” which is meant to help you in your journey of Lent to evaluate your life and name and repent of your sins. This is a time to get real about the lives we lead, the thoughts we wrestle with and the desires with which we struggle. It was a monk named St. John Cassian in the 4th century who began to put down on paper the things that he struggled with. He originally wrote down 8 deadly sins he wrestled with in his life and as he lived in community with other monks, he found that they shared these same common struggles. In the 6th century Pope Gregory I limited the list to 7 and pronounced that these sins are not unique to those in the monastery but that all Christians struggled with these sins. The Seven Deadly Sins were originally taught to educate and instruct Christians not only about humanity’s tendency to sin but also equip us in the pitfalls which lie before us in following God. The sins were listed in order from least to most deadly beginning with lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and finally pride. The early church saw these sins as enemies of the virtues Christians needed. Instead of lust -self-control, instead of gluttony – temperance, instead of Greed – generosity, instead of sloth – zeal, instead of anger – kindness, instead of envy – love, instead of pride - humility. So the 7 Deadly Sins were taught not only to help us avoid them but to free us to pursue the virtues of God or more simply, to be the person God wants us to be and to live the life he would have us live.
As we think about the Deadly Sins, that raises a fundamental question, “What is sin?” The Bible doesn’t give one definition of sin. There is one primary word in the Greek NT which is used are most often for the word sin, hamartia. Hamartia was used in archery in the Greco-Roman world. If the archer didn’t hit the target, hamartia occurred. It missed the mark. And so when we sin, we miss the mark of God’s will for our life. What’s important to understand is that God sets the mark and we either choose intentionally to take another path or we accidentally stray from the path. In either case, we didn’t hit the mark and thus failed to do the will of God. So sin is failing to do the will of God in your life.
Why are these sins considered to be deadly? They don't mean deadly in the sense of putting you in physical danger, they mean destructive of your immortal soul. There are four misconceptions of why these specifically are believed to be deadly. First, they can lead to eternal damnation. The Catholic Church divides sin into two categories: venial sins which are relatively minor and can be forgiven through any sacraments of the Church as well as through prayer and acts of charity. The second is more severe called "grave" or mortal sins. Theologically, a mortal sin is believed to destroy the life of grace within the person and thus creates the threat of eternal damnation. From a Protestant and Methodist perspective, we believe these 7 sins are no more “deadly” than any other sin because in God’s eyes, a sin is a sin is a sin. All God sees is a sin. Second, it is falsely believed that these are sins God will not forgive. The Bible is clear that the only sin God will not forgive is that of continued unbelief, because it rejects the only means to obtain forgiveness through Jesus Christ and His death on the cross. Third, these sins can lead to all the other sins. Pope Gregory the 1st noted that these sins were the root of all other sins, indicating that if these sins are a part of your life, they could lead to many more sins. The fact is any sin can lead to another sin. It’s like opening the flood gates, once the door is open, even more can flow through and it’s that much more difficult to close them because of the momentum or water flowing through.