The Grapevine

 

 

"A 7-MINUTE SERMON:  THE 7 DEADLY SINS",  PASTOR ALEX TYCHKIN

 

 

 

September 20, 2020

 

Aloha Church Family and Friends,        

     

   

If you ever had to drive your car on ice, or in heavy rain, then you know how dangerous it can really be! Picture this: you are cruising on the highway to the North Shore, relaxed and ready for a day of fun at the beach, and all of a sudden, a little cloud on the horizon starts moving and growing into something big, dark and menacing- and before you know it, you get hammered with a downpour of tropical rain. No matter how carefully you are driving on a slippery road, there’s one thing that makes a huge difference, and it is your tires. If your vehicle tires are bald and worn out, you run a risk of having a car accident, causing injury to yourself and others, paying higher insurance rates, or if things go really bad, even getting killed…. Many bad things can happen when you are stuck driving in tropical rain, but it all begins with a touch of bad luck and worn-out tires! Some things in life are just a beginning of a negative chain reaction, they are a root cause of a dangerous cycle that might lead to something much worse and more dangerous; they are a gateway that open a world of unintended consequences we’d rather avoid at all costs.

            The early Christian monastic teachers called the Desert Fathers knew nothing about automotive tires or driving in rain, yet they captured this important spiritual principle and based on the testimony of the Scriptures, compiled a list of our common personal sins and failures that look fairly innocent at first glance, yet in fact are dangerous entry points that if left unchecked, could lead us to something much worse - an open rebellion and ultimate separation from God. They called them The Seven Deadly Sins and brought them up to our attention so that we may honestly look in the mirror of God’s Word, avoid the temptation of focusing on other people’s problems but instead examine our own lives, clearly identify the root causes that underlie many of our failures, and take steps to eradicate them from our lives with God’s power on our side.

            The Seven Deadly Sins are dangerous precisely because they don’t look too serious, but rather minor and commonplace; they lull us into complacency and often go undetected, yet have a potential to fester and grow into something much bigger and ultimately lead us to spiritual death and separation from God, not only in this life but for all eternity. It all begins with pride. The danger of pride is that it is often considered a positive quality- sometimes we say that we are proud of our families, our children, our islands and our nation; we often confuse pride with healthy self-esteem and self-worth, and it is very easy even for Christians to cross the line and start attributing our achievements, successes and blessings not to God who is the giver of all things, but to our own efforts, skills and good fortune. Pride is the primary root cause of many other sins because it eventually denies and removes God from the picture and places our own self above other people, and as they say, from there it’s all downhill. We read in the Bible, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18)

            Next there comes the sin of envy. Envy makes us turn a blind eye to God’s blessings in our own lives and start resenting the blessings that other people experience in theirs. It robs us of joy and contentment, it often makes us feel inferior and unworthy, it poisons our relationships with bitterness and even tempts us to undermine and sabotage others. Envy often leads to anger which is another deadly sin that negatively impacts our lives. The problem with this sin is that like many others amongst the Deadly Seven it has at times some positive attributes: after all, Jesus himself got angry when he ousted the money-changers from the temple (Mark 11:15-18). Many people get angry about the injustice present in our world or they get triggered by current issues, yet even righteous anger has a potential to be easily misdirected and become a toxic force that either gets suppressed and buried within ourselves, or it eventually leads to emotional and physical violence, no matter how positive it might look on the surface.  The emotional opposite of anger is sloth, or apathy; it is a sin of not caring about anything that goes beyond the material realm of our existence and neglect of God’s Spirit that dwells within us. Then there follows greed, a sin that blurs the line between our wants and needs and drives us into the frenzy of the soul-crushing rat race in pursuit of more and more. Gluttony is the next one that points us broadly to our preoccupation with all things materialistic and temporary that offer instant gratification yet don’t meet our needs and have nothing to offer on the deeper level. And finally, there is the sin of lust that distorts the sacred God given gift of love and reduces it to an object of casual personal consumption just for the sake of pleasure and self-gratification.

            My friends, no matter what spiritual battles you are facing today, sin and death don’t have to have the final word. May God give us strength to bring our whole lives into the light of His amazing love and grace, so that we may experience the power of His forgiveness and the gift of new life in Christ!

Keeping you and your loved ones in my thoughts and prayers, May God bless us all!

 

Pastor Alex Tychkin, Lihue United Church