LENTEN STUDY: 7 DEADLY SINS
FRIEND OF THE WORLD OR FRIEND OF GOD?
MONTE W. HOLLAND
The following study is a journey through Lent, the forty-day pre-Easter season (which excludes Sundays). Easter’s date, determined by the time of the first full moon after the Spring equinox, is very late this year.
Traditionally, many Christians use Lent for self-examination and a renewal of their commitment to their faith.
This year I chose to do a devotional study on aspects of the Seven Deadly Sins, sins identified by very early Christians as key behaviors separating man from God and God’s will. The seven sins are not listed together in the Bible—each is, however, spoken about in various Scripture sites.
THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS:
GREED, ENVY, ANGER, LUST, GLUTTONY, SLOTH and PRIDE.
THE ASPECTS OF THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS ARE:
#1 Breaking the Mosaic Law
#2 Defying God or rebelling against God
#3 Acts of violence to others
#4 Failing to make proper sacrifices or worship
#5 Not living up to or reflecting God’s glory (not living as one created in God’s image)
FRIEND OF THE WORLD OR FRIEND OF GOD?
SCRIPTURE: 34 He mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble. (Proverbs 3:34 (NIV))
Submit Yourselves to God 1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. 4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. 11 Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor? (James 4:1-12 (NIV))
5 All of you young people should obey your elders. In fact, everyone should be humble toward everyone else. The Scriptures say, “God opposes proud people, but he helps everyone who is humble.” (1 Peter 5:5 (CEV))
DEVOTION: “ You’re not my friend!”
Don’t you hate to hear those words? Immediately I may ask What did I do? What’s wrong with me? I expect to be able to take some corrective action to repair the friendship. After all, I am a pretty good guy, so I shouldn’t have to change much. On the other hand, my approach may be different: If you don’t like what I do or say, that’s tough. I believe my friend is wrong and he is the one to make adjustments in his attitude and actions.
We tend to be proud of who we are. Can’t we list off the good deeds that we do in our family and in our community? And we can list all the good things we have done to help God out. To use the words from the scripture, we have been a friend of the world.
However, James sees things a little differently. James states that friendship with the world is hatred of God. If we look the first twelve verses of James 4, we almost see unfolding mention of all the sins we have been looking at. Our friendship to the world involves coveting (greed, envy, and gluttony), anger (fights and quarrels), sloth (not asking God), and in the mix somewhere, lust.
Pride is often the primary problem. God asks humility. Pride convinces us that we already know the way. Pride puts God in a well-defined box. Pride judges others. Pride questions God’s motives. In the midst of this God may be saying You are not my friend. Now what do I do? Do I ask God, What did I do? What’s wrong with me? Do I plan to be able to take some corrective action to repair the friendship? Or do I choose the other path and in effect say, I am a pretty good guy, if you don’t like what I do or say, tough!?
We are fortunate that we have a gracious, loving God, because I am afraid that many of us have been saying Tough! to God when he challenges us to the humble life. With God it is not too late to seek renewal. It will be on God’s terms. Pride is not one of God’s terms. Humility is. The world will back us up if we choose pride—that is a worldly staple. Who is most important to us—the world or God?
PRAYER: Forgive me, God, I continue to be a proud person. I can’t help myself. Give me the courage to trust you, because with your help I will be changed for the better. Amen.
To start at the beginning of this Lenten study on the Seven Deadly Sins, click on: Ash Wednesday: Intro to Lenten Study on the Seven Deadly Sins
To read the previous devotion, click on: Lenten Study: 7 Deadly Sins—Pride #4: Don’t Brag
To read the following devotion, click on: Lenten Study: Seven Deadly Sins—Deadly Sin Recap