I recently heard the phrase that we only sin in two ways: We either reduce people to the level of animals, or we raise ourselves to the state of a god. What does this actually mean, and what good does it do us? I think there is something basic here about the way humanity works – and by extension, the way the evil one plays upon us.
In this episode, I explore how the 7 deadly sins all break down to some component of these two roots. Understanding these breakdowns is only the first step. In order to make practical improvement, we also need to discuss how to avoid them. I propose several questions to ask when feeling tempted to help sort out what the right thing to do is, thus avoiding these type pitfalls.
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S02E09 2 Roots of Sin
Patron Saint: St. Sofia, also known as “Wisdom”
St. Sofia, by your example, we see how to be free from the bindings of the world and of sin. Intercede for us before our Lord, Jesus Christ, that we may emulate what you demonstrated and thus grow to inherit the promise which you now enjoy. Help us to see the futility of the world and emptiness of its promises. Pray that we would find humility to recognize our right place within the world and the scheme of God’s creation.
Heavenly Father, bless us Christians who still labor
According to an Eastern allegory explaining the cult of Divine Wisdom, Faith, Hope, and Charity were the daughters of Wisdom (known as Sofia in the Roman Martyrology on September 30th), a widow in Rome. The daughters suffered martyrdom during Hadrian’s persecution of Christians (middle 2nd century): Faith, twelve, was scourged and went unharmed when boiling pitch was poured on her, was beheaded; Hope, ten, and Charity, nine, were also beheaded after emerging unscathed, from a furnace; and Wisdom died three days later while praying at their graves. Feast day – August 1st.
All sin comes either from the tendency to see ourselves as animals or as gods.
Let’s break this open: 7 deadly sins:
Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, and Pride (superbia) -> Acedia, Vainglory
Some are easy to see as being like an animal:
- Lust, Sexual sin – like animals
- Animals do what animals do
- World today suggest the same
- Gluttony – like animals
- Would you ever morally fault a dog for eating food?
- Kelsey and ham fat
- Greed – partly like animals (desire for worldly good), partly like a god (I ‘deserve’)
Ah, now the story is getting a bit trickier. An animal isn’t really “greedy” except for it’s immediate needs. There’s some deeper sense of what we DESERVE. We see this more strongly as we go down the rest of the list.
- Sloth. I don’t need to work. I deserve to rest and be taken care of. Can anyone imagine Apollo and Aphrodite lounging around in Mt. Olympus?
- Wrath. This one is strongly about “deserve” – as a superior being, I have been wronged. I fail to realize that I am a creation, not a creator.
- Envy. Still some worldly component, but now it’s getting thin. Lots of definitions by the church, but I like “Sorry at another’s good” best. So much of this involves that somehow I “deserve” a thing. Why am I sad? It seems like I should intrinsically be happy at another’s good. Yet, this is actually an incredibly rare thing. John Maxwell – a good friend is one who will not only mourn with your setbacks, but also celebrate your successes with you.
- Pride. King of sins, now almost purely us seeing ourself as a God. Satan’s sin. “I shall not serve.” Pride doesn’t give a flip what others think about us, that’s vanity. It only cares about what I think about myself.
What does this mean? This was sort of discussed before under the topic of Cupidity and Superbia. But I want to take this deeper – not just some abstract terms, but how we see the universe.
When you come into a moment of temptation, ask yourself these questions:
- How am I forgetting the value and dignity of a human here?
- Where am I making a person into an animal?
It’s easy to ask these questions about the obvious cases like abortion, but I want to challenge us to go deeper. In politics, does a welfare system promote the dignity of man or does it degrade people to the level of cattle? When you are upset with your wife and children, are you remembering that you are currently raising your voice with an immortal creation whom the true God of the Universe considers His little child? We need to go deeper on this questions.
Alternatively, you can ask yourself these questions:
- Have I forgotten that I am not a creator, but am instead a creature?
- Am I keeping in mind how great a debt I owe to my true creator, and how truly wretched of a sinner I am?
- Why do I think that my measly accomplishments actually “entitle” me to anything in this world?
We live and die by the will of God. Psalm 104:29-30
When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
when you take away their breath, they die
and return to their dust.
30 When you send forth your spirit,[g] they are created;
and you renew the face of the ground.
We all need to really keep in mind that we truly DESERVE NOTHING. I do this all the time.
Story: My wife is pregnant right now. I get upset about her not doing things.
Story: My children act like children, and I think “I don’t deserve this.”
Story: My business isn’t going well despite me trying to live a Christian life, I feel like I put my coin in the slot, why isn’t it working?!?!?
High Level overview: We do this all the time. We actually mix these two viewpoints all the time. All Virtue is found in the happy medium, the balance. E.g. Work too hard, work too little. We humans live with contradictions all the time. We constantly get upset with our children because they are both acting too young and also upset when the ask to act older. We get upset when we work too much, and when we don’t work enough and have too little spending cash.