As I was sitting there waiting for the sun and the rest of the world to arise, I was once again thinking about “self will versus God’s will”. This is not a new subject for me to explore. If you’ve read, watched, or listen to my sermons you’ll see that I’ve visited the subject several times from different angles. I have to say that I get tired of preachers who keep ‘riding the same hobby horse’ and I may be coming close to riding this one. However, I truly believe that self will is THE sin. That all others derive from this one source.
Let’s explore that idea for a moment. Let’s look at the “Seven Deadly Sins”. These sins are: Wrath, Greed, Sloth, Pride, Lust, Envy and Gluttony.
First on our list is the sin of Wrath. Wrath is not a commonly used word however we all know by its more modern common terms: Anger or Rage. We can read from the dictionary that “Anger is an emotion related to one’s psychological interpretation of having been offended, wronged, or denied and a tendency to react through retaliation.” I can say it in much simpler terms, “We become angry when we don’t get our way.” When our self will is blocked we often react in anger.
Is there any time when anger is not a sin? Yes, of course, when our will is in alignment with the will of God and His will is being blocked, then our anger is righteous. You have probably already thought of Jesus’ anger when He saw the holy temple being misused as a marketplace by dishonest people. Inferior animals were being sold (and possibly resold) as sacrifices to the people. The money changers who were changing Roman (and other nations’ currency) for the coins used in the temple, were using dishonest exchange rates. Jesus’ will was fully inline with God’s and he was angry that God’s will was being thwarted by these supposed leaders of the people.
Check yourself when you are angry. Ask yourself, “Why am I angry? Is it because something has gone against MY will or God’s will?” If you have had the wrong kind of anger, you must do two things: Forgive and Love. That is what God in Christ has done for us.
For our part forgiveness means that we stop the anger. Do you remember Peter asking Jesus how many times he should forgive? Here it is in Matthew 18:21, “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?” Now look Peter was a capable of being compassionate and he shows it by continue the question with a suggestion when he said, “Till seven times?” Hey! Seven sounds like plenty of times to me! But Jesus said to him, “I say not to you, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” You know, don’t you, that Jesus wasn’t literally saying four hundred and ninety times. He was saying that you keep forgiving until you have REALLY forgiven … when you’ve stopped counting.
If you think forgiving is hard … just wait because now you are to LOVE those that HATE you. Forgiveness is just the stopping of the negative anger. Now we are to repair the damage. Matthew 5:43-44 is where Jesus said, “You have heard that it has been said, You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemies. But I say to you. Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you and persecute you.” This will repair the damage that your wrath has done to YOU.
Wow! We’ve only covered the first of those seven deadly sins. So I’m going to combine two because frankly Greed and Gluttony are so closely associated. Greed is the over accumulation of whatever we desire. It is not just about wealth. Think of hoarders who have old newspapers stacked floor to ceiling with hardly enough room to walk in the house. Greed can express itself in non-tangible ways also. Jealousy is greedy love. People who demand your time for their own purposes are greedy. I think you are getting the point. Amen?
Gluttony is simply the over consumption of the hoarded items; food and otherwise. Greed gathers and Gluttony consumes.
Pride yells, “Look at me! I can run faster, jump higher, and dive deeper than any man on earth. I’m smarter than anyone in the room. Women love me and men want to be me. I’m better than you in every way! No brag just fact!”
Okay, for me, it is all brag. It’s what Texans refer to as “All hat and boots … no cattle.” However, even if there is some truth behind the bragging, if we fail to give the glory to God for all that we have and all that we are, we are like Goliath.
You remember Goliath, Amen? He was the giant Philistine who stood boasting in front of the Israelite army. He was the very embodiment of pride. When Goliath saw that David had come to challenge him, Goliath started trash talking him. “Did you send children to come at me with sticks?” “Come here, boy, and I’ll feed your flesh to the birds.”
Goliath seemed to have the right to boast. He was huge. His armor weighed more than David did.
And David? In his family he was just “the kid” the baby of the family. He was the youngest and smallest of all his brothers. Nothing but a skinny armed kid who smelled like sheep. Nothing here to be prideful of. Right?
Well … Maybe!
He’d killed a lion and a bear with his slingshot. However, instead of bragging about what a great shot he was, he gave the glory to God.
I’m sure that you know the story of David and Goliath. David, through the power of God, prevailed. “Pride goes before a fall.” It was Goliath’s pride in his own strength and skill that got him killed. And it was David’s trust in the Lord that made him victorious.
Lust is a strong sexual desire for someone or something. God built us with the ability and desire to share in physical love. Lust is the perversion of that desire. Lust is the desire to completely control or consume. It is all taking and no giving. It is the seeking of self satisfaction rather than an expression of love. Again, it is all about “ME!"
Envy is a desire to have a quality, possession, or other desirable attribute belonging to someone else. This isn’t a case of; “Gee, Bill and Betty have a really nice house. I’d like to have one like it.” This is a case of; “Gee Bill and Betty have a really nice house. I want IT!” The envious person believes that they can and should have anything that they desire. If they don’t have it, it is someone else’s fault.
Sloth: This is a word that we don’t use much and when we do we make it synonymous with laziness. I can’t help but think of the animal named sloth. Just to be clear … we are not talking about that slow moving creature.
No, this Sloth is a spiritual or emotional apathy. It is either an outright refusal or merely a carelessness in the performance one’s spiritual, moral or legal obligations. The joke goes, “I used to be apathetic, but now I just don’t care.”
Being slothful is more than just laziness. It is the inability to care about anyone or anything other than ourselves. That is the clinical definition of a sociopath. A sloth lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience. Once more, it is a sense that I’m going to do what I want to do without regard to the laws of God or man.
The Envious, The Wrathful, the Greedy, the Slothful, the Prideful, the Lustful, and the Glutton all want the same thing. They want to be the center of their own universe with everything and everyone subservient to them. They try to sit on the throne that fits only God. When God commanded, “Have no other gods before me.” That is meant to include ourselves. We are not to put our will ahead of God’s.
I don’t know of any who believe in God that would dare to pray, “Not THY will, but MINE”. And yet how often do we live that concept! We go about our daily lives living them as if ‘it is all about us”. How many of our prayers are ‘gimme’ prayers?
I can only speak for myself here … but too many of my prayers are focused on MY concerns. I get in my own way. (Please read that carefully. I did not say that I get my own way. I get in my own way.) God has a plan but I too often substitute my own plan. Or I may just ‘correct’ His plan with a better idea.
I am blessed to know many great prayer warriors that multiple times a day go into battle on behalf of others. These are the people whom you call when the day is darkest and you can’t see the light. They are there to hold you when you’ve reached the end your rope and it is beginning to fray. I am a BIG guy and some of these folks are frail of body but they are oh so strong in the spirit that they can LIFT even me to God the Father in prayer. The secret of their strength is that they’ve turned their will over to God and let the Spirit of God fill them so full that there is no room left for SELF.
By the way, the Seven Deadly Sins is a MAN made list of what are considered the WORST sins. However, realize that God makes no such distinction. Sin is sin. Period. And all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. And when you realize that the wages of sin is death, then you’ll understand that ALL SIN IS DEADLY. For sinful man can not stand in the presence of God without being destroyed … not by God … but by the sin within us.
But wait … here’s the good news … Christ’s blood has cleansed us of sin and made us able to stand before God and be bathed in the love and fellowship for which we were created.