Uprooting Sinfulness: Seven Deadly Sins
Families, as microcosms of community, show us regularly that we are imperfect people who need a Savior. We cannot hide our selfishness when it shows itself regularly in our intimate interactions. We regularly fail to live up to the standards that God’s holiness requires. Children and parents all fall into the messiness of sinfulness. We argue, we seek our own way, we deceive, and hurt those we love. Our motives betray the selfishness of our heart. We feel guilty and ashamed as we routinely find ourselves tripping over the same sinful habits we repented of last week and wondering how to uproot these behaviors from our lives.
No family is perfect--we all struggle to love each other with the compassion that Christ asks of us. There are sinful behaviors that we should not allow to take root in our homes. Galatians 5:19-21 cautions us, “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Sinfulness is dangerous and not something that we should cultivate, but rather we should uproot.
2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us that now that we are a new creation; the old things are supposed to be behind us, and we are to become a new creation. As new creatures, God's Spirit empowers us to put aside sinful practices which trip us up . Let us allow Christ to continue to transform us into his likeness, even while we are still imperfect people in a sinful world.
In AD 590, the pope consolidated a list of sins down to seven root vices that he saw as stumbling blocks to living the Christian life. His list comprised the attitudes that so often lead to sinful actions. This list is referred to as the seven deadly sins, and it serves as a reminder of the attitudes that so easily entangle us. This list helps us see how the rotten uncleanness of our heart lead to sinfulness in our actions. So what are some of these sinful attitudes that trip us up?
- Pride or self-absorption. In the midst of our individualistic culture, God calls us to care about one another. We are called to care for the least of these rather than only caring about ourselves. Loving our neighbor helps us to see beyond ourselves.
- Avarice or greed. We are living in a materialistic world, but God calls us not to invest in the temporary things around us. An eternal perspective helps us not to get overly concerned with the things of this world, but rather to function in gratitude for each day’s blessings.
- Lust or sexual longing. Our culture is very sex-saturated and happily transgresses boundaries preventing sex from being the blessing that God intended it to be. When sex is kept within the boundaries of marriage it becomes a positive rather than a negative force in families.
- Envy or resentment. When we envy we covet the blessings that God did not choose to share with us. Coveting the blessings of someone else tells God that you are not appreciative of the blessings with which he has already blessed you. Choose instead to thank God for all that he has given to you.
- Appetite or gluttony. This is not limited to food or alcohol, it is the abuse of any of the gifts that God has given. When we can focus on the giver of the gifts rather than hoarding the gifts themselves, we will appreciate the blessing of those gifts and desire to share them with others.
- Anger or wrath. Anger can rot us from the inside out and lead us down a destructive path. Christ left us a better example that we should follow in his path. Forgiveness frees us from the burden of anger and places God in-charge of dispensing justice.
- Sloth or laziness. Complacency is common, we expect that others can do things without needing our help, but God calls all of us to use our gifts to serve others. God says that we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus to good works.
Acknowledge God's Standard.
It begins with understanding God’s holy standard. Scripture shows us that we have a holy God and that we have all sinned and fallen short of his glory. We may think our sinfulness is not so bad and maybe even better than that of our neighbor, but God tells us in his word that we are broken and in need of his restoration.
Repent of Your Sinfulness.
When we acknowledge our sin we see our need for a Savior. We humbly approach God with repentance of where we have fallen short of what God desires for us. We cannot heal what we do not acknowledge. Only when sin has been brought out of the darkness and into the light can we repent and find forgiveness. 1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." We have assurance that we are pardoned.
Let the Spirit Transform.
Next we invite the Holy Spirit to do its work in our lives. The Spirit produces fruit in our lives when we stay connected to him. Galatians 6 follows these works of the flesh with the work of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Ask God to set his Spirit loose in your life to cultivate these holy virtues. God can transform our families by uprooting the sinful attitudes that draw us into sin. Trust him to uproot sinfulness and to cultivate his fruit in the life of your family.
By Deb Koster
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