It is a worship problem, not a sin problem

WorshipSome books are worth reading multiple times. One such book it Creed or Chaos? by Dorothy L. Sayers, a book from which I have previously published several quotes.

A recent reading of the book brought to mind her discussion on the seven deadly sins and how the church has been selective in her renunciation of these sins. As listed in the book, the sins are:

Luxuria or Lust,
Ira or Wrath,
Gula or Gluttony,
Avaritia or Covetousness,
Invidia or Envy,
Acedia or Sloth,
Superbia or Pride

The average church has done much in denouncing the first sin but has a spotty record in working against the others. Rather than rehash Dorothy’s essay on the sins, I’ll let you go get a copy of the book (if you can find one) and read it for yourself. It would be worth the effort for you to do so.

What came to mind following a reading of this list is that we don’t have a sin problem as much as we have a worship problem.

When Jesus was asked to name the great command, he named love (and worship) of God as that command (Matthew 22:36-40). The second one is to love our neighbor. Since God loves our neighbor, it could be argued that the fulfillment of the second command is in response to the first command. Therefore, loving our neighbor is an aspect of our worship of God. It seems to me that if we did even a mediocre job of fulfilling these two commands, the seven deadly sins would not be an issue.

For example, lust is a desire to have something that I don’t currently have but think I really need. In our sexually charged culture, we think of lust primarily in terms of sexual attraction, but lust can be a desire for anything. If our desires are subjugated to our worship of God, then it seems that desire for other things would be diminished.

It would be difficult to exercise wrath when I am loving my neighbor as myself. A desire for a close relationship with God would displace food or drink or any other form of physical satisfaction as a proper goal for life. Avarice is the opposite of  loving my neighbor; if I am loving my neighbor, I can’t be cheating him. If I am in worship of God, it is difficult to be envious of my neighbor. A proper concept of worship of God would motivate me to be a good steward of the resources that God provides to me. Being a good steward would prevent me from sloth in any aspect of my life. Finally, a right understanding of God’s righteousness and his provision on my behalf in Jesus Christ should mitigate my pride.

I hope that you get the picture from this very brief overview.

Proper worship of God is the foundation for the conquest of sin. Why is this the case? All seven of these sins result from man (me) pretending that his is in charge of his own destiny. All seven of these sins are acts of open rebellion against God.

But if I am worshiping God, if I am acknowledging my dependence upon him, then, and only then, I have the perspective to see these sins for what they are. They are ugly, no matter how much the culture around me (both church and state) seek to justify them or make them palatable.