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Everyday Enticements - Part 5

By: Arnie Cole & Michael Ross

The Seven “Deadlies”

Temptation and sin are so destructive that the church has described seven particular sins as “deadly” or “capital” sins. The term “capital” comes from the Latin caput, which means “head,” and it indicates that these sins are particularly destructive because they lead to many other sins, as if they were the head of a sin stream.[1]

In fact, all of the so-called “small” sins that we commit—whether little white lies or materialistic binges—are manifestations of these deeper sin issues residing in our hearts. They are deadly not because they are unforgiveable by God’s grace. They are deadly because they constitute the core sins that feed the common sins we commit day to day, and because, if they aren’t dealt with, they will plunge us into spiritual death and eternal separation from God. Many Christians over the centuries have found it helpful to reflect on these seven “deadlies”—pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, anger, and sloth—and to seek guidance from Scripture in overcoming these temptations. While we could learn much from camping on each one of these sins, it will be most beneficial in this context to explore what these seven deadlies have in common.

[1] The list of the seven deadly sins was compiled in the early centuries of the church as leaders reflected on Scripture and Christian experience and sought to help believers—monks in particular—know what sins they especially needed to avoid. The number of seven sins dates to St. Gregory the Great in the sixth century, though similar lists of eight such vices date as early as the third and fourth centuries with St. Cyprian (d. 258) and John Cassian (c. 365–c. 433). Everett Ferguson, Church History: Volume One: From Christ to Pre-Reformation: The Rise and Growth of the Church in Its Cultural, Intellectual, and Political Context (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005), 320; Arthur Charles O’Neil, “Sin,” in vol. 14 of The Catholic Encyclopedia (New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912), 4–11; available online at

From Tempted, Tested, True

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