Preaching to the Choir

These are some sermons, but mostly lectionary discussions. It also has prayers for some Sundays.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Pride of the 7 Deadly Sins

Breaking Free of the “I” Problem
Feb. 26, 2006
Beginning of the sermon series on the 7 Deadly sins

We have had rainy, cloudy, dreary days for too long now. You can’t work, or play outside hardly at all. As you can tell by the same sign being up about the praise and worship, neither Marty, Bob or I have been able to get it changed due to the weather. The darkness and cloudiness begins to effect our attitudes, our feelings, our morale doesn’t it. Kids want to go out and play, and due to cabin fever are becoming wilder and more active.

I thought about that as I thought about the beginning of the series on the 7 deadly sins. I thought that you one day of cloudiness and rain you can tolerate. But as it goes on and on you give into its darkness. And isn’t that the way it is with sin, that we might give into one little bit of temptation, and it doesn’t seem so bad. But sin begins with one little temptation, and unless you are willing to repent, and ask God to forgive you, then that little temptation grows into something bigger and bigger, and darker and darker until it consumes you by taking hold of your person hood, your character, your relationships, your thoughts, your attitude, and your very soul. C. S. Lewis commented, “the safest road to hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts

Now I was not raised Catholic, and am not as familiar with the 7 deadly sins as Marty is. I am more familiar with the Protestant version of sin. But when our Bishop wrote his new book “Sinning like a Christian”, on the 7 deadly sins, and went around discussing the book, I became intrigued by them. Sara Pearson had gone with me, and we discussed the idea of a sermon series and/or discussion group on them. This Wednesday begins the season of Lent and what better time to talk about these than now. In order to get all 7 sins in before Easter, I had to start early hence beginning today. And today we begin with an introduction and a look at the first sin, Pride. Now this is not just to be an informational series, you can go read the book for that. It is to be a transformational series, thus the title of Breaking free. Every Wednesday of Lent there will be a prayer guide on one of the sins or as this Wednesday, Thomas Merton’s prayer on all 7 sins.

Here is some background on the 7 deadly sins; Centuries ago, the Middle Ages to be exact, Pope Gregory the Great around 600AD the church recognized the devastation of sin in the lives of people. The church recognized that they needed to warn the people of the dangers of sin. Dangers that we need to be aware of because these sins will separate us from God and they will cause destruction in our families and in our churches and in our homes. The church came up with a list known as the Seven Deadly Sins -- Pride; Envy; Anger; Sloth; Greed or avarice; Gluttony and Lust.

When I was growing up preachers talked a lot about sin. They vigorously warned us about its consequences, often in frightening terms. Today we hesitate to use the word, in part, I think because it has been overused and in part because we live in a predominately secular society. In a secular society God is not a factor. And, apart from God there is no sin. Apart from God sin is "inappropriate or harmful" behavior. In short, we shy away from the word sin because it has lost most of its impact. And yet we deal with sin every day, all day. Sin is a reality in all of our lives whether we label it sin or not.
And while the "Seven Deadlies" aren’t found in the Bible, and obviously cannot be synonymous with the "Ten Commandment," each of them is clearly proscribed in Scripture. And there is a reason why Pride tops list. Of the seven sins just listed, Pride is condemned in the Holy Scriptures more than the other six combined. More even than any of the sins proscribed by the Ten Commandments. More than stealing, more than adultery, more than murder, more even than idiolatry. C.S. Lewis, "According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.


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