The comprehension of personal vices can be the catalyst for spiritual growth when done using the spotlight of grace. The pursuit of righteousness is critical goal for followers of Jesus (1 Tim. 6:11), and one productive method that can be used is a deeper grasp of the sinful vices that so often entangle us and the lies they catch us with. The point of this series is to help you become more able to penetratingly diagnose your struggles; and more importantly illuminate the glories of Jesus and the glimpse of life he gives beyond the entrapments of sin. Through the process of 1) diagnosing the vice; 2) seeing the gloriousness of Jesus; and so 3) Worshiping him, we indeed die to sin (Eph. 4:22-24 and Col. 3:5).
The language used here is of ‘vice’ more than ‘sin’, why? That is a good historical question given that such list in popular culture are known as ‘sins’, but ‘sin’ as an instantaneous occurrence is, unlikely what our Church Fathers were on about. A vice (or its counterpart, a virtue), first of all, is a habit or a character trait. Unlike something we are born with, virtues and vices are acquired moral qualities. The vices below are corruptive and destructive habits. They undermine both our goodness of character and our living well. These vices eat away at our ability to see things clearly, appreciate things as we ought, live in healthy relationships with others, and refrain from self-destructive patterns of behaviour.
I thought that there were seven deadly sins? You mean ‘Vices’; Ok, seven deadly ‘vices’—but why these; and you have eight in your list, did you fail maths too? Yes the number is deliberate, and the reason for eight will come out as we go. But the reason for these seven is mainly historical. The Reformers were dissatisfied with the lists lack of scriptural basis (as if it’s a complete set of sin)—to which I agree. But the list has its roots in the practical fight against sin and a loving pastoral theology that seeks to understanding human behaviour more deeply. This list will follow Aquinas’s list and be used as a vehicle to illuminate both the deep condition of our hearts and just how great Jesus is—as he didn’t fall into them and he brings us something even better than what the vices promise.
- Envy (July 3rd). Genesis 37:1-11; Psalm 73:1-6; 20-23.
- Vainglory (July 10th). Matthew 6:1-18.
- Sloth (July 31st). Psalm 119:25-32; 2 Peter 1:1-11.
- Avarice (August 7th). 1 Kings 21:1-19; 1 Timothy 6:3-19.
- Anger (August 14th). James 1:19-25; Romans 12:14-21; Mark 3:1-6.
- Gluttony (August 28th). Psalm 104:14-30; 1 Tim 4:1-5; Matt 6:16-18.
- Lust (September 4th). Genesis 2:18-25; 1 Corinthians 6:12-20.
- Pride (September 11th). Isaiah 2:6-18; Philippians 2:1-11.
A helpful reading companion to this series would be Rebecca DeYoung’s book: Glittering Vices.