Mastering Our Midnights – By Russell V. DeLong

Chapter 9

The Seven Deadly Sins

Any sin is deadly unless repented of and forgiven by God.

What is sin?

It is any deliberate act against the known will of God.

The Ten Commandments embody all the basic rules for man’s conduct in relation both to

God and to other persons. One may sin vertically — in acts against God himself; or horizontally — in his acts against other human beings.

All such acts, however, have more than the two dimensional possibilities; they all have

internal effects on the soul.

Man with all of his modern cleverness and mechanical skill — with his flair for new

inventions, new methods, new medicines, new adventures — has been unable to invent a new sin. We have today only new sinners committing old sins.

The seven deadly sins one has called “the seven pallbearers of character.” They are:








Some persons are inclined toward one kind more than another. But each is a spiritual tumor radiating its cancerous tentacles to the depths of the soul until like a hissing, slimy serpent it crushes and squeezes until life is gone — it is deadly.

1. Pride is the outcome of an overly inflated ego. It thinks more highly of itself than is

warranted and demands that others do so also. Pride too breeds jealousy. One becomes proud of what he thinks he has and jealous over what the other person has that he does not have.

Daniel Defoe said, “Pride is the first peer and president of hell.” It was pride that caused

Lucifer to be cast out of heaven.

Colton made a pertinent and truthful statement when he said: “Pride, like a magnet,

constantly points to one object, self; but unlike the magnet, it has no attractive pole, but at all points repels.”

Someone else has observed: “The proud never have friends, not in prosperity, for then they know nobody; and not in adversity, for then nobody knows them.”

Yes, pride is deadly. It shuts God out and drives people out and away.

The Bible proclaims, “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4: 6).

2. Avarice is defined as a “passion for riches; covetousness ”

Today it hides its black iniquity under such respectable cloaks as “thrift and economic

security”; in essence, avarice is an inordinate love of things. It manifests itself in selfishness and resorts to theft, larceny, burglary, and graft. This was the dominant sin of the rich fool to whom Jesus referred whose barns bulged with crop surpluses so he built larger silos and more spacious elevators while he forgot God (ingratitude) and forgot his soul (irreligion) and thought God had forgotten him (presumption).

Zeno wisely observed: “The avaricious man is like the barren sandy ground of the desert

which sucks in all the rain and dew with greediness, but yields no fruitful herbs or plants for the benefit of others.”

The spendthrift wants the benefit of getting for the pleasure of spending, while the miser

wants the blessing of getting for the joy of keeping. Both are rotting with the sin of avarice. They live for themselves with no regard for others — or for God.

3. Envy is a sort of passive decomposition of the soul. It is proportionate to desire. The

more we want what we do not have, the greater the depths of envy. It can take the form of desiring great office or social prestige or political power. The higher the ambition, the deeper the envy.

Thomson has said, “Base envy withers at another’s joy, and hates the excellence it cannot


Envy leads to covetousness. It may result in taking what you want by the use of illegitimate means. To desire something and not be able to get it results in frustration and eventually produces the angry soul. One of the Ten Commandments is, “Thou shalt not covet.”

4. Lust is the fourth deadly sin. The three preceding have been sins of the mind or heart, but lust is an inordinate love of the pleasures of the flesh. It wears the modern tag of “self-expression.” It is the prostitution of love, the debasing of the finest flower that grows in the garden of man’s heart.

Everything today is geared to sex and sense. It is “wine, women, and song.” Nothing new — just a new and over accentuated emphasis. The seventh commandment, “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Exod. 20: 14), is still on God’s statute book. It has not been repealed.

5. Anger is the outburst when the pressure of desire or frustration or repression reaches a

certain uncontrollable degree. It is dangerous to others but is devastating to one’s self. Anger caused Cain to commit the first murder.

Anger makes the mind muddy and irrational; it stirs the heart with the passions of hell and prompts the will to devilish acts. A famous quotation reads, “Whom the gods would destroy they first make angry.” Yes, anger leads to destruction; it is deadly.

6. Gluttony is the sixth fatal sin. It is one of the most universal today. The motto of the rich fool, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die,” is the practical slogan of the twentieth century gluttons. Instead of eating to live they live to eat.

Milton said: “Swinish gluttony ne’er looks to heaven amid his gorgeous feast, but with

besotted, base ingratitude, crams and blasphemes his feeder.”

A glutton is one who exists like an animal, eats like a horse, and dies like a dog. His body

is his shrine and his belly his god. The mind is dulled and the spirit choked; the body is king.

7. The seventh deadly sin is sloth. It is defined as “disinclination to exertion,” “laziness,”

and “indolence.”

Cato warned, “Flee sloth, for the indolence of the soul is the decay of the body.”

One who is inoculated with the sin of sloth is one who has lost the zest for living. His taste for achievement has withered; his appetite for life has faded. He has become eroded, barren, and unproductive. In reality, such a person is a dead man still eking out an existence. Sloth is deadly.

The only hope for persons saturated with sin is the Great Physician. He can first forgive the acts and then cleanse the actor.

Here is the only successful therapy — “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to

forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1: 7).