Seven Deadly Sins: A History Of Christianity And The Bible
Modified: January 9, 2024
The seven deadly sins are pride, lust, envy, wrath, greed, gluttony, and sloth. Have a full grasp of these capital vices under the Christian teachings.
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The seven deadly sins are considered to be the roots of all other sins under Christian teachings, particularly the Roman Catholic Theology and the early Protestant Church. From these sins, other immoral and corrupt practices are believed to sprout. Historically, the Catholic Church coined the seven deadly sins to awaken the Christians from a deep moral and spiritual slumber of wickedness. It aims to shift a Christian’s focus to knowing these sins in order to help them resist acts of sin. The seven deadly sins are pride, envy, lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, and wrath.
Pope Gregory I, first enumerated the seven deadly sins in the late sixth century. It is an influence from Evagrius Ponticus’ list of eight evil thoughts or spirits man should overcome. The list created by Pope Gregory I became the standard list of sins. Thomas Aquinas, a very influential philosopher, and theologian used this list in the 13th century as he elaborated on the seven deadly sins in his famous text Summa Theologica. In this writing, Thomas Aquinas called the seven mortal sins as the capital vices or capital sins since he believed that these iniquities give birth to other evil deeds. The Catholic Church, Anglican, Lutheran, and Methodist Church continue to use this term today.
While there is no Biblical account on the seven deadly sins, the Bible has a comparable list of sins in Proverbs 6:16-19, Galatians 5:19-21, and Mark 7:20-23. God reviles sins. The Bible defines sin as a transgression to God’s divine laws. Sins lead us to eternal destruction. Although the Bible has no record of the seven deadly sins, sins in general offenses God. Thus, God is waking us up to be free from these sins which corrupt our lives.
The Sin Of Pride
Christian Values to Combat Pride: Humility, Meekness, Compassion, Love
Considered as the most serious of all sins and the core of the seven deadly sins, pride unlocks the perils of selfishness, vanity, and excessive regard of one’s self. Pride is the father of all sins as deemed through centuries. It was the first sin ever and the worst snare of the devil according to authors Jonathan Edward and Ichabod Spencer, respectively. It is the source of all other sins according to them. Pride is the most dangerous of all the seven deadly sins because it rejects the lordship and sovereignty of God. It is a direct insult to God’s power and being. As a consequence, it prepares the proud into the pit of destruction. Proverbs 16:18 says that pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. Pride poisons the heart into believing that one is superior to others. In this, other forms of wickedness spur.
Blinding the man’s heart and eyes is pride’s expertise. It deceives us to think that others are not as important as we are. Therefore, it believes that the interest of ones ’self should be put first before others. This outlook sees personal desires, needs, wants, and cravings as more necessary or essential than others. It corrupts man to be egocentric, self-seeking, and indifferent. When pride sets in the heart, it removes any form of compassion and love for others. Rather, it places a lack of sympathy and even concern with other people. This kind of thinking is oblivious to one’s own flaws, limitations, and even wrong practices. It can only see a good image of itself and rejects any blot of errors. The Lord opposes the proud for it is not His image that is glorified but man’s own.
The Sin Of Envy
Christian Values to Combat Envy: Contentment, Cheerfulness, Gladness, Gratitude, Joy, Love
Among all the seven deadly sins, envy was the most contemptible because it produces an unhappy life. Envy is resentful jealousy towards other’s good qualities, possessions, belongings, assets, abilities, or talents. It is an act of spiteful covetousness. The feeling of discontent is so great in one’s heart that it becomes envious or malicious about other’s good condition, accomplishment, and other desirable attributes. Furthermore, envy has a greedy desire to possess the same good assets and traits of another. It can be so voracious that it leads a person to do anything for the sake of acquiring something that it does not have.
Envy, however, is not a mere feeling. It drives a person into damaging acts both to one’s self and to others. It’s a two-edged knife leaving scrapes on both of them. In worse cases, envy causes people to snatch away things that belong to others so they can call it their own. Thus, envy leashes other sins like theft, deceit, dishonesty, and harmful manners.
This is envy’s tragic yet unquenchable yearning- to feel unhappy about other’s happiness and to feel joy about others’ misfortune and sadness. It laughs when someone cries and rages when someone smiles. This is a terrible capital vice. Scholar says that this sin caused Cain to kill his brother Abel. Because Cain wasn’t able to please God with his offerings which Abel did, he killed his own brother. Cain, being the first-born son, could not accept the truth that the sacrifice of his brother pleased God but the Lord rejected his offering. The first murder in the Bible was because of this unquenchable desire towards a brother. Proverbs 14:30 says that envy is rottenness to the bones. It deteriorates one’s soul until there is no joy and even life at all.
The Sin Of Lust
Christian Values to Combat Lust: Self-control, Chastity
Lust is the sinful desire of the flesh. It leads to other immoral acts like pornography, fornication, adultery, rape, infidelity, and other immoral acts. It is an impure and fervent longing for a sexual desire or lasciviousness. Sexuality is not sinful in itself. It is a God-given pleasure to be enjoyed by us as part of our being but lust is a different subject. It is tainted with evil cravings that offenses God. The righteousness of God cannot and will never tolerate iniquities no matter how it dresses. Lust begins with a person’s desire. This desire when conceived gives birth to sin and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death (James 1:15).
Among the seven deadly sins, lust is the only sin against one’s own body (1 Corinthians 6:18). All other sins a person commits are outside the body, sexual immorality on the other hand is a sin committed against oneself. Our bodies are created for God and for Him alone. It is not meant for sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:13). The Bible instructs Christians to flee from youthful lusts. The direction says “to flee”, that means to avoid at any cost the tainted desires of the flesh. When Jesus brought these bodies at a great price of His life, these bodies do not anymore belong to this world but to Him. Therefore, it should live not for its desire but for the will of God.
The sexually immoral will not inherit the Kingdom of God; this is Paul’s warning (1 Corinthians 6:9). Lust is a serious sin against God and also the most concealed of all sins. Sins committed in darkness must be put to light. Whatever done in darkness will prosper in there unless exposed to light (Ephesians 5:11-13).
The Sin Of Wrath
Christian Values to Combat Wrath: Gentleness, Kindness, Patience, Self-control, Love, Goodness, Meekness
Wrath is defined as an unrestrained form of anger and hatred towards another with the goal of seeking vengeance through corrupted ways. While anger can be just and inevitable at some point, wrath is not just a mere emotion. It tries to find ways to obtain revenge in an unjust manner. Most of the time, violence, uncontrollable rage, ferocity, and excessive or unnecessary demonstration of anger accompany wrath. Since wrath hunts for vengeance, it becomes reckless in attaining what one thinks should another person suffer in consequence of or her actions. In some cases, this wrath damages not the other person involved but the one who let it dwell on him or her. This can lead to personal destructive actions like addiction, abuse to alcohol, drugs, and harming of one’s self.
The Scripture’s wise advice in opposing wrath is to surrender it to God (Romans 12:19). It says not to avenge ourselves but live the wrath to God. It’s because our assurance is in the truth that vengeance belongs to God. The Book of Psalms has the same instruction. Wrath is only for evil according to Psalm 37:8. Therefore free ourselves of this wrath. It will do a man no good. Wrath burdens a man with a fury which is so heavy the mind responds with uncontrollable rage. Let it fall off our shoulders in knowing that God is in control.
Dwelling on wrath is both foolish and reckless. Like the other seven deadly sins, wrath desires something evil. And its desire is for someone to suffer grief or discomfort. Excessive anger dilutes love. This capital sin causes many of the serious offenses committed today. Perhaps, wrath is the most damaging to people compared to the other seven deadly sins.
The Sin Of Sloth
Christian Values to Combat Sloth: Diligence, Perseverance, Endurance, Compassion
Sloth is a broad capital sin. More often, people regard sloth as laziness. However, sloth as one of the seven deadly sins speaks more than just the act of laziness. Sloth is indifferent to others, indolence to responsibilities, and unwillingness to utilize God’s gifts. It lacks concern and compassion for others. This sin loses any feeling about others. It gives birth to apathy, unresponsiveness, and callous heart. Sloth also results in negligence. A sluggard seeks nothing and therefore gains nothing (Proverbs 20:4 ). The same wise book of the Bible has this sensible advice about being sluggish. It says in Proverbs 6:6 “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.” Perhaps ants were the most diligent, most hardworking of all the smallest insects of the earth. The Bible suggests that we imitate their hard work when given responsibilities.
Finally, sloth in terms of not utilizing the gifts God gave us displeases Him. In the popular Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), a master gave certain talents to his three servants according to their abilities. The two servants used and traded the talents given to them and made more talents in return. On the contrary, the last buried his talents underneath the ground. The other two servants delighted the master but the last one who hid the money angered his master.
The life that man had, his possessions, talents, and abilities were not just given for nothing. God has blessed us so we can be a blessing to others too. Colossians 3:23 says that in whatever we do, let us do it for God and not for men. If we do work in this manner, we can be fueled with the strength and eagerness to work.
The Sin Of Gluttony
Christian Values to Combat Gluttony: Self-control, Patience, Contentment, Temperance
Gluttony refers to overindulgence or consumption of more than the required quantity of what we have been given. This capital sin derives its term from the Latin word gluttire which means “to gulp down”. Gluttony is a self-centered yearning. It is especially counted as sin if the excessive consumption of food or drink causes denial to give to the needy when there is too much left for one’s self. This capital vice, like the other seven deadly sins particularly pride and greed seeks the interest of one’s self above all else. The priority is personal interest before anything else. Even though gluttony does not seem like a serious crime compared to the other seven deadly sins, it is in reality, treacherous. The real cause of this capital sin sprouts from too much regard to one’s self and indifference towards others.
Gluttony knows no master aside from food and the pleasure of eating. It obeys no one but personal desire. Unlike the other seven deadly sins, gluttony is not a conspicuous sin, sometimes, even by oneself. It hides from the false assumption of necessity and love for oneself. St. Thomas Aquinas from the Medieval Ages in his work Summa Theologica listed five ways of committing gluttony. First is “Laute” which means eating too luxurious food. Second, “Studiose” or eating food too daintily and elegantly prepared. It stresses the exquisite quality of food. Conversely, the third, “Nimis” focuses on the quantity of food. It implies eating too much. Fourth, “Praepropere” is eating too soon and without proper time. Lastly, and the most serious of these five is “Ardenter”. It means eating too eagerly or greedily.
Gluttony is also often associated with drunkenness (1 Corinthians 6:10). Thus, anything lavishly swallowed or eaten is gluttony and hence, is a sin.
The Sin Of Greed
Christian Values to Combat Greed: Charity, Kindness, Compassion, Love
This capital sin is an intense longing and pursuit of temporal things. Others call it avarice or covetousness. Like the other seven deadly sins, greed is a sin that is a product of a sinful desire. It seeks material possessions, position, wealth, power, and other things of this world like it is the only thing that matters. Greed gives birth to a lot of corrupt actions. This world is its lord. It can do any wicked act necessary to attain the deepest and darkest desire of man’s heart. The worst idea about greed is its pursuit of earthly things and their neglect of heavenly things.
In 2 Corinthians 4:18, Apostle Paul reminds us to look at things that are unseen for these are things that are eternal. It prepares for us things that are far from this world’s impression of riches. Nothing can compare to what God has in store for us in heaven. On the other hand, the things of this world are transient. Wealth, power, material possessions, and even fame, these were all bound to deplete. Everything will pass away (Mark 13:31). It is the same reason why Jesus instructed us not to lay up treasures here on earth (Matthew 6:19-20). Moth and rust destroy material possessions. Thieves and anyone can steal whatever one can have in this world. But treasures stored in heaven are safe and secure for eternity.
Christian Values to Pursuing a Righteous Life
The Lord reveals His wrath from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness. He hated sin more than anything for it brings forth eternal damnation to His creations. The seven deadly sins along with other sins sprouting from it summarize the wickedness of men. Having Christian values and pursuing righteousness is indeed very difficult especially that we are in this flesh yet the Lord of Hosts says “not by might nor by power but by the spirit of God” (Zechariah 4:6). Most of the seven deadly sins start with a desire of more than what we need. Moreover, it always seeks personal pleasure but just in different forms. The vital step in overcoming these is through two things: repentance and seeking the Lordship of the only righteous One.