Over the next seven weeks we will be looking at the ‘Seven Deadly Sins’: Greed, Lust, Envy, Gluttony, Anger, Pride and Slothfulness, exploring their relevance in today’s society and for our lives.
For most of us though, the concept of the Seven Deadly Sins seems old and out-dated, something to be caricatured and laughed at or used as a marketing tool to sell Magnum Ice-creams. In some ways this is a fair response. To highlight seven particular behaviours surely misses the point that it is our denial of Jesus in our hearts that is the problem.
Herein lies the issue with the Seven Deadly Sins. By focusing on the specific behaviours we make sin the equivalent of rule-breaking, something many Australians pride themselves on! Sin is relegated to the moral equivalent of sneaking a second bit of cake when no one is watching- as long as no one catches you, then you are in the clear. This makes people who keep talking about sin merely busybody moralists who are restricting your freedoms. And nobody likes that guy!
So why talk about the Seven Deadly Sins?
What we are going to try and do in the coming weeks is use the concept of the Seven Deadly Sins as it was originally intended, as a helpful tool that a Christian uses to evaluate their own lives, to make sure that they are living for God.
In 1 Peter 2:11-12 we are urged as strangers in the world to abstain from sinful desires which wage war against your souls instead living “such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits”. These verses can help is understand why a Christian must flee from evil and avoid it at all costs.
Firstly, we are not of this world but of the world to come, a world characterised by its perfection and complete absence of sin. When we accept Jesus into our lives we accept citizenship of this new kingdom and we live according to its laws, which is why Peter calls strangers in this world.. Although we are not earning our citizenship by good works, our behaviour identifies us with the new kingdom.
Secondly, sin is part of a war being waged in our souls. Our human nature is drawn towards sin which corrupts and destroys both spiritually and physically, but we fight against it with the help of the Spirit who lives in us. This is why sin is more than simple rule-breaking, it has to be taken seriously because it has dire consequences now and for eternity. How can a broken life, saturated in sin point people to Jesus? It can only do this if the Spirit can be seen working in our lives and in the good deeds that we do.
Hopefully, each of the Seven Deadly Sins will help us reflect on specific areas of our lives which might need some attention. But let us do so in the full and confident knowledge that we have already been saved by grace which was poured out for us on the cross- we are already citizens of God’s heavenly kingdom!