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The Seven Deadly Sins

Read: Galatians 5:16-24

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (v. 16)

The seven deadly sins are a famous shorthand for the worst of humanity, but few people take them all that seriously today. In fact, I usually see them used frivolously in pop culture that celebrates indulgence, like a bottle of wine named “Seven Deadly Zins.” Americans are interested in the seven deadly sins, as long as that interest remains shallow and commercial.

For centuries, the Christian church has believed that taking these deadly sins seriously can help believers avoid gratifying “the desires of the flesh.” The church identified seven sins that are especially harmful to our spiritual lives: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride. It also recognized seven virtues (prudence, temperance, fortitude, justice, faith, hope, and love) as antidotes to these sins.

As a Reformed Christian, I believe that all sins are equally “deadly.” All sin separates us from God and requires Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross. Bearing that in mind, we can still benefit from studying the seven deadly sins if we think of them as seven habits that the human heart is especially prone to—habits that result in our estrangement from God. Over the next two weeks, we will study each of the seven deadly sins, but also the less well known seven companion virtues. Acknowledging our inclination towards sin is the first step in walking by the Spirit. —Jane Olson

As you pray, ask God to teach you to walk with him.

About the Author

Jane Olson is a college counselor and high school teacher. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband Lars and her children Claire and Teddy.