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Everyday Enticements - Part 6

From: Tempted, Tested, True

By: Arnie Cole & Michael Ross



What Makes Sin Deadly

First, these sins lurk under the radar screen, disguising themselves in forms that we deem acceptable. While none of us wants to call ourselves lustful or lazy, we nonetheless cover up these sins with other names that make them sound not so bad.


For example, we may disguise our pride by calling it self-confidence. Greed cloaks itself in the “innocent” desires to improve our lot with a better home, car, or job. We call gluttony a good appetite and lust a private fantasy. And instead of saying we’re angry, we say we’re frustrated.

We saw earlier that we justify so-called small sins like gossip and materialism. But when we do so, we’re really justifying the deadly sins that give rise to our everyday iniquities. Gossip arises from our pride, thinking ourselves better than others, and from our envy, a sinister wish that if I can’t have what she has, then she shouldn’t enjoy it either. Materialism stems from greed, lust, and gluttony, desires to find pleasure from the material things of this world. The seven deadly sins reveal how desperate our situation is, that we deceive ourselves and dress up our sin—at all levels—so it looks like an acceptable part of our lives, rather than the decaying disease that it really is.


Second, the seven deadly sins all represent a dissatisfaction with God. When we engage in any of these sins, we say to God, “not your will, but my will be done.” And when we assert our own will against God’s, we act as if God’s will is somehow flawed, somehow depriving us of our happiness.

Pride illustrates this clearly. God gave Adam and Eve a restraint for their good (not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil), but when Adam and Eve chose to eat the fruit, they asserted that God had withheld something good from them and that they knew better than God. Whenever we doubt God and his ways, we commit the same sin of pride.


In the same way, in sloth we question the goodness of work, which God instituted before the fall. In lust we doubt the sufficiency of sex within marriage. In greed we reject the concept of “enough” and pursue the accumulation of “more.” In envy we despise God’s providence in giving us and our neighbors different lots according to his sovereignty. In gluttony we set aside self-control and embrace indulgence. In anger we tell God that we don’t like how he has let our lives turn out. Essentially, in these seven deadly sins, we express our dissatisfaction with the way God calls us to live and ultimately with God himself.


Third, the seven deadly sins constitute our attempts to satisfy the deepest longings of our beings with earthly pleasures or through earthly measures, which can never fully satisfy our souls.

We try to satisfy—or numb—our deep spiritual desires through fame and power (pride); bigger houses and better gadgets (greed); pornography and sexual encounters (lust); outdoing our peers (envy); food and alcohol (gluttony); entertainment and relaxation (sloth). And when these fail to satisfy, we get mad and lash out at the people around us, harming them emotionally, spiritually, and often physically (anger). We are obsessed with a passing world, eagerly seeking that these temporal things will fill a void that only God can fill.


C. S. Lewis captures our foolish tendency to fix our desires on this world and its allurements: “if we consider the unblushing promise of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”[1]


In Christ, however, our desires can find complete satisfaction. And once we experience that divine contentment, we must continue finding satisfaction in him, not living for this world, for “the present form of this world is passing away” (1 Cor 7:31), but living for Christ and embracing the apostle Paul’s motto: “to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil 1:21).

[1] C. S. Lewis, “The Weight of Glory,” in The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses (New York: The Macmillan Company 1949), 1–2. Lewis originally preached “The Weight of Glory” on June 8, 1941.


From Tempted, Tested, True


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