Over the next month I'll occasionally be posting about the 7 Deadly Sins because I began teaching through them last night in men's group. The Seven are pride, envy, anger, sloth, greed, gluttony, and lust. The list is not found in the Bible, but was developed over the centuries by guys like Evagrius, Thomas Aquinas, and Gregory the Great. Early Protestants, in keeping with their title, rejected the list (since it wasn't specifically found in the Bible), but recently Protestants have been taking more and more interest in the 7 Deadly Sins.
Why? What value does this list have for us?
1. The Seven create an agreeable starting point for discussion. Nearly everybody will admit to struggling with some of the items on this list. Niebuhr taught that the doctrine of original sin was the only empiracally verifiable Christian doctrine, and in some sense he was correct.
2. The Seven focus on MY sin instead of YOUR sin. It's easy for Evangelicals to, when they are talking about sin, mention only things like murder, theft, and homosexuality. But the Seven are less comfortable for us to talk about since we deal with them (or fail to deal with them) on a regular basis. When G.K. Chesterton was asked to write an essay on 'What is wrong with the world,' he famously responded with the word 'Me.'
3. The Seven focus on the DISEASE instead of merely on the symptoms. Willimon states, "What makes the Seven so deadly is their generative quality... the Seven are leaders of wicked armies... they are the head, the necessary first step toward other sin." They are the root to which other sins are more often branches.
4. The Seven establish our need for Christ. Willimon also says that, "Jesus made the rather astounding claim that, when it comes to sin, it's the thought that counts... the main reason to spend all this effort talking about sin is so that we can name it, claim it, and move on to more significant lives than if we had lied about ourselves. The Seven help us to hit rock bottom so that we both have a foundation and are provoked to look up to the man on the cross.