In the lurid movie Seven, starring Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt, a maniacal killer roams the streets killing a string of victims in a series of gruesome murders. The detectives are stumped until they realize that the perpetrator is killing his victims as sort of sick punishment for their having committed one of the Seven Deadly Sins. The murders are terrible, the crime scenes horrible. The whole move is dark, somber, and sinister.
In other words, the whole movie is quite unlike the historical depictions of the Seven Deadly Sins. If only it were true that the Seven were the proclivities of maniac’s and madmen, a Hitler or a Mao. But the thing that impresses me about the Seven is how utterly ordinary and unspectacular they are. These are the mundane, all too human foibles of the human race in general, not of the few utterly depraved. Perhaps there is something in us that wants to believe that “sin” must apply to someone other than ourselves. Thus we make a movie that depicts the Seven as lurid, bloody, and spectacular. They are not. This is where we live, this is who we are.
Beginning this Sunday, May 1, I will venture into a new sermon series on the Seven Deadly Sins. They are, Pride, Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Envy, Sloth, Anger. These are the “seven deadly sins” made popular by ancient theologians and contemporary movies. We’ve all dealt with these sins at one time or another. Willpower can’t solve the problem; neither will behavior modification. That’s because these sins aren’t things we do-they’re who we are. We carry them around in our hearts daily. The main reason to spend all this effort talking about sin is so that we can name it, claim it, and move on to more significant lives than if we had lied about ourselves. The good news is, well, the Good News. The power of Christ’s perfect obedience, sinless sacrifice, and glorified resurrection gives us the freedom to confidently diagnose the root of our sins, boldly kill those sins through gospel-fueled repentance, and joyfully walk in newness of life.