Bulletin Articles

Bulletin Articles

“Seven Deadly Sins”

Categories: Iron sharpens iron

If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death.

(1 John 5.16-17)

There is considerable confusion about what this passage means, but rest assured, John is not giving you license to freely commit some sins.  Even “sin not leading to death” carries a mortal peril with it—otherwise, why should you pray on behalf of the sinning brother, for God to “give him life”?  Nevertheless, some sins are more imperiling than others, and over the last two millennia several of these have been generally recognized as what we might call “capital” sins—that is to say, most other sins fall into one or another of these categories.  This list appears nowhere in the Bible, of course, and so we should be careful not to assign it that kind of prominence.  But it is still worthwhile to examine this list of sins, and consider how to avoid them.


“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

(Matthew 5.27-28)

Jesus tells us that sexual sins aren’t merely the misuse of the body, but begin with a misuse of our natural desires.  The virtue that stands opposite this sin is chastity—which does not mean abstinence from all sexual relations, but from those that would be immoral.  God designed us with sexual desires; fulfill them within the union he instituted, between husband and wife.


If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it.

(Proverbs 25.16)

The point of the proverb is clearly not that one should abstain from any and all pleasing food!  As with sexual desire, there is a way to fulfill the natural and wholesome urge to eat, and even to “enjoy” such material blessings (1Ti 6.17).  The opposite of gluttony is temperance—which does not mean total abstinence, but self-restraint.  We must keep this desire, too, in its proper place, not indulging it to our own and others’ harm.


The evil here is not wealth, nor pursuit of gain.  The problem is a love of wealth or gain!  The most obvious expression of greed is to take something you do not own.  What does God prescribe in such a case? 

Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.

(Ephesians 4.28)

The opposite of greed is what we often call charity—the kind of love that gives freely to the needy and undeserving.


If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.

(2 Thessalonians 3.10)

It may be expressed through laziness, but in keeping with the theme, sloth is a matter of the heart!  Why don’t you care to fulfill your obligations?  Why aren’t you interested in doing what God has directed you to do?  The opposite of sloth is diligence—an active care to accomplish what is needed.

“You shall diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and his testimonies and his statutes, which he has commanded you.”

(Deuteronomy 6.17)


God does not prohibit you from getting angry—rather, he says to refuse to let anger rule you!  “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Ep 4.26).  The person who becomes angry over things that do not matter, or allows that anger to spark ill-will toward others, is not just experiencing a natural emotion.  He is surrendering to wrath!  The opposing virtue is patience, which God displays in abundance for all of us!

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

(Ephesians 4.31)


Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

(Galatians 5.26)

Envy has much in common with greed, but whereas greed is self-centered to the point of apathy toward others, envy specifically wishes to harm the person toward whom it is directed.  It starts with resentment of someone who has possessions or status you desire, and if left unchecked soon grows into active hatred.  In a sense, it is admiration turned toward evil.  Avoiding this, what should you cultivate instead?  Kindness—the pursuit of others’ well-being, whether they need your help, or not! 


For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

(Romans 12.3)

This pride is not a healthy sense of self- worth; rather, it is an excessive and unreasonable estimation of one’s own importance!  This attitude leads us to elevate ourselves to the detriment of others, and before long we presume even to encroach upon God’s role!  As with the other sins on this list, it is self-evident that this is wicked; but with what should we replace it?  Humility.

Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

(1 Peter 5.5)

Jeremy Nettles