According to Christian tradition, the seven deadly sins are
The seven deadly sins were first compiled by Pope Gregory I around the year 600. They are the source from which sinful thoughts, behavior, and omissions arise.
He 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.
Peter Lombard (d. 1160) used Gregory’s list and he was the source for Thomas Aquinas, who merged pride and vainglory to establish the seven capital sins we know today.
The Seven Deadly Sin And Their Meaning:
Lust is a strong longing for sexual desires. It is Looking at, imagining, and treating others as mere sex objects to serve your own physical pleasures, rather than as individuals made in the image and likeness of God.
The Catholic Church believes that it’s normal and healthy to be attracted to and to appreciate the opposite sex. That’s not lust, and it’s not considered a sin.
Chastity, the virtue that moderates sexual desire, is the best remedy for lust. Chastity falls under temperance and can help to keep physical pleasure in moderation.
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 excessive eating of food or drinking of wine or choosing to over-consume food or alcohol. Enjoying a delightful dinner isn’t sinful, but intentionally overeating to the point where you literally get sick to your stomach is. So, too, having an alcoholic beverage now and then (provided that you don’t suffer from alcoholism) is not sinful in the eyes of the Church. But drinking to the point of drunkenness is.
Legitimate eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, aren’t gluttony. They’re medical conditions that require treatment and care. Gluttony is voluntary and merely requires self-control and moderation.
Periodic fasting, restricting the amount of food you eat, and abstinence, avoiding meat or some favorite food, are the best defenses against gluttony.
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 things.
It is the inordinate love of and desire for earthly possessions. Amassing a fortune and trying to accumulate the most stuff is greed, sometimes called avarice. Next, to anger, envy, and lust, more crimes have been committed due to greed than any other deadly sin.
Generosity is the best weapon against greed. Freely giving some of your possessions away, especially to those less fortunate, is considered the perfect antithesis to greed and avarice.
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 the failure of one to utilize one’s talent also known as laziness.
The Church says that the evil habit of being inattentive at religious worship services and being careless in fulfilling your religious duties is also a sin of sloth.
Spiritual laziness can only be overcome by practicing the virtue of diligence, which is the habit of keeping focused and paying attention to the work at hand — be it the work of employment or the work of God.
Solomon spoke of sloth in Proverbs 6:6 says, “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 / Anger
Wrath is stronger anger or hatred against another.
Patience, the virtue that allows you to adapt and endure evil without harboring any destructive feelings, is the best countermeasure for anger.
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 strongest desire to have an item that someone else has. Catholicism distinguishes between two kinds of envy:
- Material envy is when you resent others who have more money, talent, strength, beauty, friends, and so on than you do.
- Spiritual envy is resenting others who progress in holiness, preferring that they stay at or below your level instead of being joyful and happy that they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing. Spiritual envy is far worse and more evil than material envy.
The Church maintains that meekness or kindness can counter envy.
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 regards to another.
Pride is the key to all other sins because after you believe that you’re more important than you actually are, you compensate for it when others don’t agree with your judgment. You rationalize your behavior and make excuses for lying, cheating, stealing, insulting, ignoring, and such, because no one understands you as you do. In your mind, you’re underestimated by the world.
Humility is the best remedy for pride. Catholicism regards humility as recognizing that talent is really a gift from God.
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.
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 the complete rejection of God’s grace which is an outright rebellion against God, also known as blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
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
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 cure for these sins is the gift of a new heart that acts in accordance with the love and law of God. This new heart can only come from God. Ezekiel 36:26-27
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 Catholic Church maintains that seven vices in particular lead to breaking one or more of the Ten Commandments. These particular bad habits are called the seven deadly sins because, according to Catholicism, they’re mortal sins — sins that kill the life of sanctifying grace.