Response to the Topic of Exploring the Seven Deadly Sins (Nov23 CSLI)

A Monthly Reflection

“Sin is a fundamental relationship— it is not wrong doing, but wrong being— it is deliberate and determined independence from G-d.”

Oswald Chambers

Sin sucks.  I said it last month and I will say it again.

This month has been an eye-opener.  Not fully wide.  Not fully awake.  But on a journey.  In the morning we wake up and our eyes open and we assess the situation.  Get up, stay in bed?  Do we hurt; do we feel well-rested?  Are we in a rush or are we at peace?  Do we move towards movement?  Do we have motivation or are we snugged in our beds warm and tight?

This is what I would say about myself – I am just beginning my foray into the land of awareness of my deep scars and support of the seven deadly sins in my life – currently as well as in the past.  Last month we took on sin as a whole and how corrupt, dark, infectious, and utterly evil it is.  This time we explore in a deeper, more micro-cosmic manner, the fundamental sprouting of that sin into a tree that shows its shape from roots to branches of what sin really looks like.

The root is pride.  It forms and hold up all of the other vices.

The branches as has been laid out are: vainglory, envy, sloth (acedia), avarice, wrath, gluttony, lust.

Herein lies the problem.  We are created beings.  We sinned against G-d just like Satan did.  We are proud and want what we want.  We think we are our own masters and that we know everything.  I once heard it said that we struggle with lust of the flesh, of the eyes, and the pride of life.  These broken down are passions, possessions, and position.  Within these lies the pride that is so encouraging of sprouting deadly branches.

Along with our own sense of pride we also are being deceived that the (all) other sins are ok.  You want something – go get it, want to take it easy – sure, want revenge – all the better, want to enjoy things at any time for any reason – yolo and you do you.  We nurture our own nature with pride and society comes along and pats us on the back that it is ok – you are just being the person who you “truly” are.  No harm – no foul. 

I have stated to some of my closest friends that we are in a world culture that is bound up in deception and debauchery.  And this is deadly.  Very deadly.

If you are blind, how can you see or be made to see again?

If you love yourself so much that you are willing to hurt others to get something or indulge yourself to the point of pain and suffering – how do you change?

Oh and pleasures abound.  Just look around.  Take take take….

This is where the enemy can thrive – he adds fear, guilt, shame, and lies and it is quite a thing to escape.  The answer is awareness and asking for help from our Father through submission.

This is why this month has been tougher than most but it is a good thing as is a scalpel to a disease.  The awareness of the sin(s) in our life is the scalpel.  We need Jesus to help bring awareness to our sins so that we can confess these to Him and to others for healing, forgiveness, and restoration.

Oswald Chambers has stated truth through awareness by the following:

When a truth of God is brought home to your soul, never allow it to pass without acting on it internally in your will, not necessarily externally in your physical life. Record it with ink and with blood— work it into your life. The weakest saint who transacts business with Jesus Christ is liberated the second he acts and God’s almighty power is available on his behalf. We come up to the truth of God, confess we are wrong, but go back again. Then we approach it again and turn back, until we finally learn we have no business going back. When we are confronted with such a word of truth from our redeeming Lord, we must move directly to transact business with Him. “Come to Me…” (Matthew 11:28).

His word come means “to act.” Yet the last thing we want to do is come. But everyone who does come knows that, at that very moment, the supernatural power of the life of God invades him. The dominating power of the world, the flesh, and the devil is now paralyzed; not by your act, but because your act has joined you to God and tapped you in to His redemptive power.

MUFHH 12/04

Next comes the heart tug:

Conviction is given to us as a gift of shame and repentance; it is the great mercy of God. Jesus Christ hates the sin in people, and Calvary is the measure of His hatred.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Oswald Chambers

Choose your adventure:

The path to the left or the road to the right.  Left into the deep and dark woods or right up a steep mountain with a great bright light shining at the top.

The choice is yours as it is mine.

If we choose to turn away and take the left road to try to stay in the status quo it may be more like this:

Sow a though, reap an act.

Sow an act, reap a habit.

Sow a habit, reap a character.

Sow a character, reap a destiny.

Samuel Smiles

However, the road to the right also comes at a price.  It is not an easy trek.  It will take effort and perseverance.  It will take grit and it will take being on our knees.  There will be bumps and bruises along the way (sanctification).  The end will justify the means and we will have victory because it is His not ours.  It is for His glory and not because of our pride.

So, we stay the course.  Or do we….?

The most challenging part of the text material to comes to terms with is this:

Vice —— Virtue —— Vice

Think of this as a pendulum where it is so easy to swing to the left or to the right to corrupt the virtue and become a vice.  Either side is damaging.

From the Glittering Vices book, Rebecca DeYoung states:

“In fact, for every moral virtue, Aristotle and Aquinas typically identify two vices: one takes a good thing too far in one direction, and the other takes it to the opposite extreme. For example, the virtue of courage has two opposing vices paired with it—rashness and cowardice.”

Additionally, from her notes to clarify:

This feature of virtue is commonly thought to be limited primarily to the virtues of character that concern directing the passions. The notion that virtue lies in a mean should not be interpreted as indicating that you should moderately desire pleasure or be moderately afraid all the time (in life-threatening situations, for example, great fear may be an appropriate response). Neither is the mean exactly in the middle between the two extremes (in fact, it’s usually not). Rather, in our reactions of pleasure, desire, or fear to various situations, we go wrong by having these emotions excessively. While it is sometimes fitting to be very afraid, we fall into the vice of cowardice when we are so afraid that we abandon our duty instead of completing our mission. Thus, having too much fear is a moral problem, even if we can also correctly say that it is right to feel very afraid. Not feeling much fear is also fitting sometimes (e.g., when driving), but again, if we feel too little fear, we have a vice of deficiency called rashness (e.g., carelessly speeding through red lights).

The good news.

Isn’t grace sweet as even in conviction of how dirty we are – it is our call to come home and get clean. 

Psalm 32: A Maskil of David.

v1-v5 ESV:

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.

For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah

I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

We need His grace that comes through conviction and confession and when we can do this, we can overcome this prideful acting out of the other deadly sins.  For me this is gluttony, greed, lust, anger, and the others.  I need to learn more self-control as well in these areas and have a new heart for what is appropriate.  The awareness of my sin.  The awareness of the truth.  The awareness of how to view things more from His point-of-view and how to surrender to sanctification and His chisel.  His scalpel.

Remember this from Mr. Tim Keller:

The gospel says you are simultaneously more sinful and flawed than you ever dared believe, yet more loved and accepted than you ever dared hope.”

And again, from Augustine:

“Seeing, then, that man fell through pride, He restored him through humility. We were ensnared by the wisdom of the serpent; we are set free by the foolishness of G-d.”

Augustine of Hippo

Bonus: I recommend the song, “All I Need” by Citizens as this one explains how we can replace our selfish pride with a longing and desperate desire for Jesus to be all we need.  And if you want another cool song to explore more on this listen to the song “Release me from this Snare” by Beautiful Eulogy.

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