The Substance of Faith

The Substance of Faith

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The Seven Deadly Sins – Introduction

Recently I’ve been preaching a sermon series on the Seven Deadly Sins. Keith Reaves, our Minister of Worship created the graphic, above, for use as our cover to the Sunday order of worship.

I will write a separate post for each sin here at The Substance of Faith.  These posts will contain quotations I found helpful, references to books I used, and some insights I gained during study and preparing the sermons.

To get us thinking about this list of sins in this introductory post, I begin with a prayer by Howard Thurman:

Kindle thy light within me, oh God, that I may be guarded against self deception and the vanity that creeps into my spirit where a shadow is cast between me and thy scrutiny.    (Meditations of the Heart, p. 159)

When considering the seven deadly sins, we must always guard against self-deception.  Maybe we are convicted of lust.  But pride?  Sloth?  Which of us thinks ourselves greedy?  I’ve seen one person deny anger through clenched teeth.  Therefore preaching on theses sins requires the pastor to overcome the mental caricatures of these sins because listeners use the caricatures to hide behind, denying that the sin fits them. A shadow is cast between us and God’s scrutiny, and that is the way we like it.

For instance, with greed our mental image is someone similar to Ebenezer Scrooge.  None of us sit alone in cold rooms, counting stacks of gold coins.  Because we don’t fit the mental stereotype, we rest easy with the belief we could not possibly be greedy.  That belief is self deception.  It is self preservation, for who wants to admit greed? Let the shadow fall between us and and God’s searching eye.

Anyone preaching or teaching on the sins will have to determine what images we use to hide behind, then breech the defenses of the listeners, either by frontal assault or by stealth.

In hindsight, I think I might have named this series “Seven Toxic Sins.”  Toxic may communicate their danger better to this generation than Deadly.  Who would not want to be warned of a toxic substance in drinking water or the air we breath?  These sins are indeed toxic to our souls and they are a part of the ethos of this and every age.  People need to be warned for they are in peril.

Finally, one general quote worth considering:

In medieval times, the seven cardinal sins were known to everyone, while nowadays, it is a rare university student who can name the seven. (Peter Kreft, Back to Virtue, p. 9)

People can’t be warned if they don’t know the names of the dangers around them.

See Also:

Seven Deadly Sins:Envy

Seven Deadly Sins: Anger

Seven Deadly Sins: Greed

Seven Deadly Sins: Sloth

Seven Deadly Sins: Pride



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