The New and Improved Seven Deadly Sins


The New and Improved Seven Deadly Sins

Centuries ago, the Catholic church catalogued what became known as the seven deadly sins: pride, gluttony, sloth, lust, greed, envy and anger. Ghandi had his own version: wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, science without humanity, knowledge without character, politics without principle, commerce without morality and worship without sacrifice.

Recently, Pope Benedict XVI warned “we are losing the notion of sin.” Hardly a surprising development in a culture that celebrates what use to be condemned. What may be surprising, however, is that recent surveys reveal attendance at confession is plummeting among Catholics.

So, the Catholic church has decided to expand the list to include some additional sins. They include: genetic modification, human experiments such as cloning, polluting the environment, causing social injustice, causing poverty, becoming obscenely wealthy and taking drugs. The Vatican newspaper quoted Gianfranco Girotti as saying, “You offend God not only by stealing, blaspheming or coveting your neighbor’s wife but also by polluting, cloning, taking drugs, promoting social injustice, or becoming obscenely rich.”

You think an expanded list of sins to confess would cause people to head to the confessional booths? I didn’t think so either. A sin list is like a speed limit sign on the highway. It’s absolutely powerless to stop speeders. Something has to happen inside that vehicle. The driver has to decide he or she is going to do the right thing and obey the laws for their own good and the good of others.

The same thing is true with people and sin. Something has to happen inside our own heart. A list of sins is absolutely powerless to stop sinners. The sinner has to decide he or she is going to do the right thing and obey the laws of God, for their own good and the good of others.

Paul said, “there is no one righteous, not even one . . . for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:10, 23). James said even if we avoid certain sins, like the seven deadly ones or even the second seven, recently added by the Catholic church, still, if we stumble “at just one point” of God’s law, we’re “guilty of breaking all of it” (James 2:10). In other words, if we only messed up once we’re still just as guilty before God as if we’d broken every sin in the Book.

Listing more sins isn’t going to help any of us. What we need is Someone to help us with our sin problem. Thankfully, we have all the help we need if we want it. Jesus came to “save us from our sins” (Matthew 1:21) and He gave us the Holy Spirit to empower us so we could overcome sin (Galatians 5:16-25). What’s more, John said, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

The motivation for confession is not an edict from the Vatican, remodeled confessional booths, or even an expanded sin list. Rather, our motivation to get right with God comes right from God. 1 John 1:7 says, “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.

In other words, if we choose to do what’s right and obey God’s law, even when we mess up from time to time . . . God’s got us covered.

I’ve got a confession to make . . . that’s GOOD NEWS!

© 2008. Barry L. Cameron


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