Please note, the early church classified the seven deadly sins as cardinal sins or capital vices and taught that they could not be forgiven. However, according to the Bible these 7 deadly sins are completely and totally forgivable by God, but this doesn’t give free license to commit these sins. Biblically, the only sin that cannot be forgiven is complete rejection of God’s grace which is outright rebellion against God, also known as blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
The root cause of these sins
Each one of these deadly sins listed above has its root in the desire for more and the human need for excess. Each sin goes against the root of Christianity which is: love for God, love for our fellow man, and love for our bodies (keeping them as clean temples for God, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Paul writes in Philippians 4:11-12, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” This strikes at the root of each of these deadly sins. Paul in effect is saying that God can take care of our needs and there is no need to lust or desire after excessive things.
The cure for these sins is the gift of a new heart that acts in accordance to the love and law of God. This new heart can only come from God. Ezekiel 36:26-27 says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” Humanity’s only hope is the miracle of a regenerated heart that acts according to the direction of the Holy Spirit to walk in God’s statutes and judgments.
The seven deadly sins were first compiled by Pope Gregory I around the year 600. They are pride, greed, lust, wrath, gluttony, envy, and sloth. Gregory also compiled a list of the seven virtues: faith, hope, charity, justice, prudence, temperance, and fortitude. The Bible would validate all of these concepts, but nowhere are they recorded in a list like this and nowhere in the Bible are they specifically referred to as the seven deadly sins or seven virtues. They do not pre-date the Ten Commandments which were given at Mt. Sinai around 1450 B.C. It is probably true that they were used extensively to teach principles from God’s Word, particularly in the centuries before the invention of the printing press when the Bible was not available for the common man to read and study.
As mentioned before, the list of seven deadly sins in question does not appear in any Bible verse. However, a slightly different set of sins can be found in Proverbs 6:16-19, “These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him:
- A proud look,
- a lying tongue,
- hands that shed innocent blood,
- A heart that devises wicked plans,
- feet that are swift in running to evil,
- A false witness who speaks lies,
- and one who sows discord among brethren.”
Additionally, Galatians 5:19-21 mentions several more sins to be on our guard against: “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
The seven virtues were originally defined in the poem, Psychomachia, by Aurelius Clemens Prudentius, a Christian governor who died around 410 A.D. Because of the poem’s prevalence the concept and idea of the seven virtues spread throughout Europe. The following is a listing of the seven virtues and how they cure each of the seven deadly sins:
- Kindness = cures envy by placing the desire to help others above the need to supersede them.
- Temperance = cures gluttony by implanting the desire to be healthy, therefore making one fit to serve others.
- Charity or love = cures greed by putting the desire to help others above storing up treasure for one’s self.
- Chastity or self-control = cures lust by controlling passion and leveraging that energy for the good of others.
- Humility = cures pride by removing one’s ego and boastfulness, therefore allowing the attitude of service.
- Diligence or Zeal = cures slothfulness by placing the best interest of others above the life of ease and relaxation.
- Patience = cures wrath by taking time to understand the needs and desires of others before acting or speaking.
Lust is a strong passion or longing, especially for sexual desires.
The Bible speaks about lust in 2 Timothy 2:22, “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love [and] peace…”
The Bible also mentions lust in the following verses: Job 31:1, Matthew 5:28, Philippians 4:8, James 1:14-15, 1 Peter 2:11 and 1 John 2:16.
Chastity or self-control cures lust by controlling passion and leveraging that energy for the good of others.
Gluttony is an excessive and ongoing eating of food or drink.
1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
Additional Bible references include: Psalm 78:17-19, Philippians 3:19-20, Proverbs 23:1-3, Proverbs 23:19-21 and 1 Corinthians 3:16-17.
Temperance cures gluttony by implanting the desire to be healthy, therefore making one fit to serve others.
Greed is an excessive pursuit of material goods.
The Bible says the following in Hebrews 13:5, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’”
Other biblical texts which mention greed include: Exodus 20:17, Proverbs 11:24, Proverbs 28:25, Ecclesiastes 5:10, Philippians 4:6 and 1 Timothy 6:9-10.
Charity cures greed by putting the desire to help others above storing up treasure for one’s self.
Sloth is an excessive laziness or the failure to act and utilize one’s talents.
Solomon spoke of sloth in Proverbs 6:6 saying, “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise.”
The Bible also mentions sloth in the following verses: Proverbs 13:4, Proverbs 24:33-34, Romans 12:11-13, Colossians 3:23 and 2 Thessalonians 3:10.
Diligence or zeal cures slothfulness by placing the interest of others above a life of ease and relaxation.
Wrath is a strong anger and hate towards another person.
The Bible speaks about wrath in Romans 12:19, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’”
Additional Bible verses include: Psalm 37:8, Proverbs 14:29, Proverbs 15:1, Ephesians 4:26-27, Colossians 3:8 and James 1:19-20.
Patience cures wrath by one first understanding the needs and desires of others before acting or speaking.
Envy is the intense desire to have an item that someone else possesses.
The Bible says the following in Proverbs 14:30, “A sound heart is life to the body, But envy is rottenness to the bones.”
Other biblical texts which mention envy include: Job 5:2, Psalm 37:1, Proverbs 24:19-20, Ecclesiastes 4:4, Galatians 5:26 and James 3:14-16.
Kindness cures envy by placing the desire to help others above the need to supersede them.
Pride is an excessive view of one’s self without regard for others.
The Bible says the following in Jeremiah 9:23-24, “…Let not the mighty man boast of his might…but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me…”
Pride is also mentioned in the following verses: Proverbs 8:13, Proverbs 16:18, Romans 12:16, 1 Corinthians 13:4, Galatians 6:3 and James 4:6-7.
Humility cures pride by removing one’s ego and boastfulness, therefore allowing the attitude of service.