Seven Vices and Seven Virtues (intro)
This Sunday, January 8, I’m starting a new series of lessons on vices and virtues. Dating back to the fourth century, much of the Christian world has grouped all sins into several major categories. In their efforts to become perfect, the desert fathers were the ones who created eight groupings of sins. John Cassian brought their work out of the desert and into the major centers of Western civilization. Pope Gregory 1 then reorganized the list about 590 AD. He created the well-known and widely-accepted catalog known as the “Seven Deadly Sins.” Thomas Aquinas, Geoffrey Chaucer and many other major teachers, writers and leaders have used these lists as sufficient representations of all the sins that afflict humankind. My sermons will work off this list.
|Hieronymus Bosch’s The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things|
The listing of “major sins” is nothing new. It goes back to the Bible. The wise teacher listed 7 “abominations” in Proverbs 6:16-19. Paul’s writings include several vice lists including 15 “works of the flesh” in Galatians 5:19-21. We find another, similar catalog of wrongs in Revelation 21:8.
But what is the goal of listing and describing sins that plague us? And shouldn’t the list be updated to match our changing times?
We talk about sin in order to defeat it. While it’s true that some folks discuss sin in order to glorify it, Christians should examine sin in order to name and understand their enemy. “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” The evil things that remain in darkness are allowed to run rampant in your life and in our world. Sins left in the dark destroy and create havoc. When we name sin, however, and confess its power in our own lives, we allow the light of God to shine on what was previously dark. God’s light has the power to bring confession, repentance, healing and wholeness.
The ancient list of seven vices needs no updating. They comprise the most basic categories of destructive thoughts and behaviors. As we’ll see over the next seven weeks, these seven sum up our most basic weaknesses and adequately describe the dark powers that plague us all.
To replace the seven vices, there are seven Christian virtues. Like the seven sins, these are also described in the Bible and are deeply rooted in Christian thought. I’ll encourage us to seek these seven virtuous qualities that build us up and make us into godlier people.
Will you join me in this exploration of vice and virtue? As we start 2017, will you dedicate yourself to being people who bring glory to God in all that you do? Will you allow God’s light to shine on the dark recesses of your thoughts and actions? I pray that my messages will build us up as you pursue a right relationship with God and with others in this New Year.