Seven Deadly Sins

In the Beginning

People like numbered lists. The world of the ancients didn’t just have “wonders,” they had seven wonders. God didn’t number the commandments but we always say there are ten.

Early in the Christian dispensation a list called the Seven Deadly Sins was produced and circulated. It has remained remarkably stable, though sometimes a descriptive word like acedia was replaced with the equivalent sloth. Today it would be clearer if we substituted the word laziness for sloth.

These sins are all self-inflicted unlike the seven in Proverbs 6:16-19; those are mostly directed against others. When the “deadly sins” are not controlled, the one committing the sin suffers. Someone once described the indulgence of envy as drinking poison then waiting for the other person to die. Pride is the only sin that appears on the “deadly sins” list and also the Proverbs 6:16-19 list.

“If one wanted to find a germinal word to link all sins, perhaps hate would do it. In terms of action, however, the long-term consequences of hate are self-destruction. Thus the wages of sin really are death.”—Dr. Karl Menninger, Whatever Became of Sin?, p. 172

Although there is no single text which collectively names the Seven Deadly Sins, all are universally condemned in Scripture.

We begin with the article Anger where we see how injurious this sin is to one’s self as well as to others. As early as Genesis 3 the sin of Lust is displayed when Eve wanted something so badly she disobeyed God’s law to get it.

In the article Pride we learn one’s self-importance makes this sin hard to see in one’s self. Greed explains that this sin is idolatry masquerading as something else. The study on Sloth shows us that although people rationalize why they do so little, it remains an abomination to God.

Gluttony reveals this sin is not confined to food. It is an insatiable appetite for whatever it wants. Finally, Envy might be called the primordial sin which occurred when Satan said in his heart he would become as great as the Most High.

Contending for the Faith concludes this issue. It is a verse-by-verse examination of the book of Jude where so many of these “deadly sins” are described as besetments for the church in these last days.

May we all fight these deadly sins when we see them in our lives.