While they are not explicitly mentioned in the Bible, the 7 deadly sins, also called capital or cardinal sins, form an important part of the Catholic faith.
The Church warns believers to avoid these capital sins as they are the root of other sins and immoralities. In this post, we discuss the 7 deadly sins in the Catholic church, what they mean and how to avoid them.
What You'll Learn Today
Where Did The List of Seven Deadly Sins Come From?
This may come as a surprise but the seven deadly sins predate Christinity. The first person to come up with a list of vices and virtues was Aristotle in his work Nicomachean Ethics.
This concept of primary vices and virtues makes its way through several Roman writers and philosophers and eventually ends up in early Christian Egypt, specifically among the monks.
A monk called Evagrius Ponticus created the first proper list with eight logismoi or assaultive/tempting thoughts.
His list included gluttony, prostitution, greed, sadness, wrath, acedia (sloth), boasting and pride.
Evagrius was writing to his fellow monks, so this list of sins wasn’t yet part of mainstream christianity. The man who made it popular is John Cassian, who was a student of Evagrius.
The final list – which became the 7 deadly sins we know today – was created by Pope Gregory I in AD 590. His list includes gluttony, lust, pride, greed, sloth, wrath and envy.
Are The 7 Deadly Sins In The Bible?
The Bible doesn’t mention the seven deadly sins anywhere. But the Bible has its own list of abominations, some of which also appear in the list of the 7 deadly sins .
Proverbs 6:16-19 There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.
There’s another list by Paul in Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.
The Bible also addresses individual vices in various verses.
For instance, on lust, the Bible has the following to say in Matthew 5:28: But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
And on sloth, Paul says the following to Thessalonians: 2 Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.
So while there’s nothing matching the 7 deadly sins in the Bible, all these vices are addressed in the Bible.
List Of The 7 Deadly Sins
Here’s a quick explanation of each of the 7 deadly sins. As you’ll notice, these sins often lead to other sins, which is why they are called capital or cardinal sins. They separate you from the grace of God.
Lust refers to uncontrolled sexual desire. As the Bible makes clear in Matthew 5:28, just thinking sexually immoral thoughts is already a sin even if you don’t act on your thoughts.
That’s because our thoughts are powerful and usually lead to action. Sinful thoughts beget sinful actions. Paul says in Romans 8; For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
Gluttony refers to the overconsumption or overindulgence of something such as food, alcohol (drunkenness) or pleasure.
Gluttony is sinful because it leads us to be controlled by earthly desires. This lack of self control often leads to other sins.
Here’s what Paul says in Philippians 3:19; Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.
Esau is also a prime example of how bad gluttony can be. He sold his birthright in exchange for a simple meal.
Gluttony can lead to poverty, neglect of our families, theft, and corruption.
Pride is considered the worst sin among the seven deadly sins. That’s because it is usually the source of other capital sins.
Pride involves putting yourself above others. You think your desires, needs, and wants are all-important. The biggest consequence is that you also stop putting God first.
That opens the door to all other sins whether it’s lust, wrath, envy or gluttony.
Psalms 10:4 puts it perfectly: In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”
Once you stop seeking God, then all that’s left is sin.
A little irritation now and then is alright. Even the Bible says in Ephesians 4:26; Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.
But if it grows into uncontrolled anger, hatred and rage, then that’s the sin of wrath and it’s deadly.
Think about all the sins and evils in the world that arise from hatred and anger: murder, genocide, violence, rape and so on.
Wrath never ends well.
James 1:19-20 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
Sloth, also called acedia, is a state of not caring and neglecting responsibilities. It’s often described as laziness, indolence or idleness.
Basically, it’s an unwillingness to work when you have the ability to. This is not just in physical matters; you can also have spiritual sloth, where you don’t seek any spiritual growth through reading the word, praying and doing good.
Sloth can lead to anger, selfishness, lack of empathy and kindness towards others, cowardice, and malice.
The Bible condemns sloth and praises diligence.
Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.
Envy and jealousy caused plenty of people to sin in the Bible, or otherwise do stupid things.
In Genesis, Cain kills his brother out of envy when God is more pleased by Abel’s offering. In 1 Samuel, Saul grows envious of God’s favor on David and starts tormenting him to the point that he tried to have David killed.
Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery because they were envious of his position as Jacob’s favorite son.
Envy is such a serious sin that it is one of the ten commandments.
Exodus 20:17 You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.
That’s because Envy often leads to other serious sins like stealing, wrath, murder, and adultery.
Greed is a lot like the sin of gluttony. It is an overindulgence in material possessions. Greedy people are possessed by the desire to acquire more than they need.
Greed can lead to sins like theft, trickery, lying and other sinful actions that are aimed at getting more of something whether it’s money, cars or power.
Here’s what the Bible says on Greed in 1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
The Seven Christian Virtues
The best way to guard against the seven deadly sins is to do the exact opposite of each vice. Thankfully, there’s a handy list of seven christian virtues that correspond to the seven vices.
- To avoid lust, practice chastity whether you are married or not.
- To avoid gluttony, practice temperance when seeking earthly possessions. Avoid excesses.
- To avoid envy, practice gratitude. Many of us are guilty of forgetting our blessings, and constantly comparing ourselves to others.
- To avoid pride, practice humility. This is one of the strongest virtues in terms of leading a righteous life. Other virtues like kindness, charity, love, and patience automatically follow humility.
- To avoid wrath, practice patience with everyone.
- To avoid, practice diligence in everything you do, both physically and spiritually.