>Quickly now—can you name the Seven Deadly Sins? If not, you’re probably not alone. Sin isn’t a popular topic these days and the concept of Seven Deadly Sins may seem like an archaic vestige of the Middle Ages.
The idea of Seven Deadly Sins, however, began long before the Middle Ages. In the seventh century, Pope Gregory the Great identified these Seven Deadly Sins: Pride (Superbia), Envy (Invidia), Anger (Ira), Avarice (Avarita), Sadness (Tristia), Gluttony (Gula), and Lust (Luxuria). Based on even earlier lists of sins, Sadness (Tristia), was later replaced by Sloth (Accidia). But the Seven Deadly Sins received their most press during the Middle Ages, when they featured prominently in British wall paintings as well as religious catechisms.
So why should today’s Christian even consider a listing of sins with early Christian era roots and Medieval fruits? That was the question examined by the Fifteenth Annual Bible Conference held at West Sayville Reformed Bible Church (URC) on October 2 and 3, 2010.
“The world today looks at sin as a quaint and forgotten ‘church word,’” says Rev. Andrew Eenigenburg, pastor of the West Sayville URC. “Nobody wants to talk about sin because we have long since rejected the notion that we live in the presence of a God who sits as Judge on the Throne of Heaven. But whether we have taken sin seriously or not, the believer should know that sin brings only harm, misery, and tragedy. We must equip ourselves for righteousness, and for its fruits.”
Dr. J. Mark Beach, Professor of Ministerial and Doctrinal Studies at Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, IN, spoke on “Sinful Saints (or the Sinning Christian): A Look at Some of the Seven Deadly Sins.”
He explains that the sins were called “Deadly” because “the church recognized that sin creates the proclivity to sin; vice engenders vice. In other words, sin tends to reproduce itself. Over time, Christian experience taught that certain sins are well called ‘capital’ sins, i.e., head or source sins, since they, acting as fonts of sins, engender other sins.”
“Any listener could tell that Dr. Beach was not simply performing an academic exercise,” relates Rev. Eenigenburg. “He was teaching to help real-life Christians wage a front-line battle against sins that creep into our hearts. I think every age could relate to his biblical descriptions of besetting sins and his battle-tested remedies against them.”
In his first message, “The Seven and Pride,” Dr. Beach presented an overview of the seven sins and examined in more detail the problem of pride. His next session addressed the issues of “Envy and Anger.” In a third session, Dr. Beach spoke about “Sloth and Lust.” About 30 people attended the conference.
“Those who attended had an immediate connection with a topic so close to their hearts,” says Rev. Eenigenburg. “Each person knows which sins have threatened in their lives. Dr. Beach had an instantly attuned audience, as he artfully described the damages of sin and also the remedies against it. His examples were vivid, personal, and plentiful.”
On Sunday morning, Dr. Beach continued the theme of the conference by preaching on “The Great Law of Returns.”
West Sayville Reformed Bible Church has been holding annual Bible conferences for 15 years and plans to continue offering such teaching each year in the fall.
“We are committed to bringing excellent speakers, and we encourage interested readers to plan ahead and join us next year,” says Rev. Eenigenburg. “Southwest Airlines lands only ten minutes away from the door of our church.”
The church website (www.WSRBC.org) offers mp3 recordings of the conference sessions under its “featured recording” link under the “Resources” tab on its main menu. The “Sermons” tab on the menu offers recording of the church’s weekly preaching. Rev. Eenigenburg encourages readers to make use of these excellent recordings.
He says, “I suggest that Reformed youth groups in our churches would be well served by listening to these as a three-part lesson.”
While on sabbatical, Dr. Beach read four recent books on the seven deadlies and wrote a sermon series, which served as the basis for his conference lectures. He hopes to eventually write a book on the subject as it relates to pastors.
The above article appeared on page 10 of the November 24, 2010, issue of Christian Renewal.
© Glenda Mathes, 2010