The origin of what we have come to know as the Seven Deadly Sins goes back at least to the ancient church. You can find it in literature like Dante’s Divine Comedy. It is a classic grouping of sins: pride, envy, anger, sloth, greed, gluttony, and lust. These are not intended to serve as the top seven in a ranking of the worst sins. Instead, we recognize them as core sins, the sins beneath all other sins. Studying these seven serves as a gateway into every way in which Satan, this world, and our own hearts, twist the good into something evil. Someone compared these seven to military captains commanding entire armies of sins behind them.
Our meditations are meant to get us thinking more carefully about the ways in which we dishonour our heavenly Father, add to sufferings of our Savior, and grieve the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Ultimately they should serve as an invitation to seek the grace that is found only in Christ, to repent and believe, to hunger and thirst after the Father and His kingdom.
Each suggestion for prayer for this month is from the Banner of Trusts’ The The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions. This volume is highly recommended for your personal devotions.
My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. – Jeremiah 2:13
Scripture reading: Jeremiah 2
Jeremiah’s sermons act like a modern intervention into the life of an addict. He is merciless in exposing the state of our sinful hearts, so that we might look up to God and live. This is our purpose in looking at the seven deadly sins. We seek what the Heidelberg Catechism describes as true repentance or conversion: the dying away of the old self, and the rising-to-life of the new (Lord’s Days 88-90).
The exposure of our sin puts us in a vulnerable spot: often we retreat in shame and despair. But we must not doubt God’s purposes even in our failure. He is a sovereign God, a faithful Savior who has triumphed over the power of Satan and sin. The knowledge of our failures needs to drive us closer to our Savior, not further away, because it is for sinners that He has come, and it is sinners that He loves. Do you see hope in this? To turn away from broken cisterns to the fountain of living waters is to know life, joy, peace, hope.
These devotions are for those who want to grow nearer to God in Jesus Christ. It is for those who want to reach a lost world, not only with the truth of the gospel, but also with the humble presentation of a life changed by the power of Jesus Christ.
Suggestions for prayer
“Let me learn that the broken heart is the healed heart, that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, that the repenting soul is the victorious soul…that the valley is the place of vision.” – The Valley of Vision: Intro Prayer
This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mark Stewart serves the Burlington URC in Burlington, WA.