What Are The Seven Deadly Sins and Their Meanings?

by Jack Wellman on March 24, 2012 · Print Print · Email Email

Everyone sins.  There has never been a human who has never sinned, with the exception of Jesus Christ.  All sins are an affront to God Almighty Who is holy, but some sins are specifically mentioned as an abomination to God.  In fact, seven sins are said to be deadly.  What are the seven deadly sins and why are they so deadly?  What are the meanings of these seven deadly sins?

Why Seven?

The number seven is special to God.  It took seven days to create the world.  A week has seven days in it.  God rested on the seventh day.  In ancient Israel, they were to rest on the Sabbath and the seventh day was a commanded day of rest and assembly for worship of God and it was the fourth commandment given.  The root word for the number seven in Hebrew means “to be full” or “to be complete.”   Seven, being full and complete, means that nothing could be added to it or taken away from it.  It is a number of completion and perfection.   So if anyone has these particular seven sins, they are in a sense, in a complete state of sin as far as God is concerned.  What are these seven, or complete and deadly sins that Solomon warned us about in the Book of Proverbs?  Solomon was said to be the wisest man ever to live – except of course Jesus Christ Who is both God and man.

Seven Deadly SinsThe Seven Deadly Sins

Proverbs 6:16-19

“There are six things the LORD hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.“

Haughty Eyes (Pride)

Haughty eyes are essentially people who look down on others.  They are full of the first sin ever recorded, before mankind was even created: Pride.  Pride was the cause of Lucifer’s fall whose name was later changed to Satan or the Devil as recorded in Ezekiel 28:17: “Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth.“  Lucifer meant “light-bearer” because he was the greatest of all the angels God created but he became prideful and wanted to overtake the throne of God.  He was cast down and became known as Satan, which in Hebrew means adversary and ha-Satan, the accuser. The Devil’s name literally means “slanderer” in Greek.  Today, Satan is said to accuse the brethren (the church) before the throne of God day and night (Rev. 12:10).

Haughty eyes are eyes full of pride and pride is actually at the root of all sin.  That is why it is listed first because pride is first and foremost inherent in all sin.  Haughty eyes are eyes that look condescendingly on people.  They look at others as inferior in an arrogant way and see themselves as superior to all others.  This is why God hates it.  Pride caused Satan’s fall and the Bible says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov 16:18).  This is exactly what happened to Satan and what still happens to humans who boast, brag, and are arrogant.  Pride and evil are tied together in God’s eyes as it is written, “The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate” (Prov 8:13).  Pride not only comes before a fall, God hates it, because “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).

A Lying Tongue

God detests a lying tongue and in fact, all liars are destined to be cast into the lake of fire in the Second Death (Rev. 21:8).  This is the final place for the Devil and all his fallen angels (demons). This place is a place of unending, eternal torment.  Again, we go back to the first and foremost detestable thing that God hates: Pride.  When we lie, we are wanting to make ourselves look good, make excuses for our not doing the right thing, we often accuse others of something that they did not do – all in order to make us look better.  The root cause of lying and actually all sin is pride.  We deceive others but we do not deceive God who searches the heart and knows our evil intent (1 Kings 8:39, 1 Chron 28:9, etc.).

We think that little “white lies” are harmless, but a lie is a lie. It’s like someone saying that they are a little pregnant or a little dead.  They are either lying or not.  Lying hurts the person who is telling the lie but it also hurts others as Proverbs 25:18 says, “Like a club or a sword or a sharp arrow is one who gives false testimony against a neighbor.” That doesn’t sound harmless at all.  James recognizes that power of the tongue saying, “The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell” (James 3:5-6).  Further, he says, “All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.  Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be” (James 3:7-10).

Hands that Shed Innocent Blood

One great example was the blood that was shed of Jesus Christ.  The spotless, sinless, perfect Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, was slain by guilty hands.  He was completely innocent but those who shed His blood were completely guilty and sinful.  To me, abortion is the shedding of innocent blood.  A child is inside the womb of a woman and defenseless – completely innocent, yet 42 million abortions are performed every year in this world and 1.37 million per year in the U.S.  This is nothing short of genocide since God knew us even before we were born and knew us by name in the womb (Jer 1:5-10).

Today shedding innocent blood can involve burglaries gone bad, murders, inducing others to buy and get hooked on drugs, influencing others to drink (and then to drive), drunk drivers killing innocent victims, spousal abuse and murder, and the list goes on.  Jesus said that we commit murder in our heart if we hate someone (Matt 5:21-26).  Truly no human is innocent before God but by God saying that He abhors those who shed innocent blood He means that criminals and everyday people shed the blood of others who did not deserve to die.  God alone is the author and giver of life and only He has the right to take a life.  Here again, pride is a root cause of murder.  Anger and rage involve someone else doing something we don’t like or we want to take from others who have more than we do. James equates murder’s motives quite well in saying, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 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. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures“(James 4:1-3).

A Hand that Devises Wicked Schemes

When a person has committed murder, involuntary manslaughter is usually a lesser of a charge that premeditated murder.  The meaning of premeditated is that the murderer planned and schemed well ahead of time before they committed the act. They predetermined ahead of time to kill someone so a person (a hand) that devises (plans ahead of time) wicked (evil) schemes (predetermining) is a person that God hates.  King David was such a man and God used Nathan to point this evil out to David.  David did repent (Psalm 51) but David schemed ahead of time about how to get rid of Uriah so that he could marry Bathsheba who was already pregnant by David in an adulterous affair.  Sadly, King David gives Uriah orders for his commander of the army, Joab.  David sent Uriah with the message to Joab, so essentially Joab carries orders to Joab for his death.  David paid dearly for this, losing his son and his marriage and family would forever be facing insurrection, family scheming, turmoil, and eventually the death of his older son Absalom.

Anyone that plans ahead of time to do evil is a hand that devises wicked schemes.  This would include burglarizing homes knowing when the occupant(s) leave, or a burglary after a store closes, sabotaging someone’s car with a bomb, waiting in a dark alley to rob someone, or stalking a woman in order to rape or kill her.  Anyone that plans ahead of time to do harm or evil to someone is a person that God is personally opposed to and everyone someday will give an account for every evil deed they do in their lifetime (Matt 12:36, Rom 2:6).  For those who are born-again, they have already had their judgment and have been declared innocent due to Christ’s atoning sacrifice.  God sees them as having Jesus’ righteousness imputed to them.  Those who have not believed in Jesus Christ and trusted Him as their Lord and Savior will face the Great White Throne Judgment  and give an account for all their lifetime deeds (Rev 20).

Feet that are Quick to Rush into Evil

This is a person that easily agrees to take part in an evil deed with others or to make a quick decision to do something harmful to another person. If their feet are quick to run into evil, they are already predisposed, or already of a mind to want to rob, murder, hurt, lie, or cheat others.  They don’t have to think about it.  They instantly run to do something where they see an easy opportunity.  They quickly jump to their feet to take advantage of someone in a vulnerable position, like someone leaving their purse on a restaurant table or finding someone’s wallet on the floor and rushing to pick it up and quickly taking it for themselves.

A person that doesn’t even have to think about doing something wrong is always quick to do it. They rush ahead, not even thinking of the consequences, so they are likely not a Christian and they have no conviction from the Holy Spirit about thinking twice about it.  Their only goal is easy money or an easy target.  They don’t stop and ponder about it – they run swiftly to take advantage of a situation.  The human heart, without the Holy Spirit, is desperately wicked and thinks nothing of jumping at the chance to do something wrong (Jer 17:9).  A Christian has to battle their conscience because God’s Spirit is restraining their behavior and making them think about the consequences first tends to not jump at the chance to do something that they know is inherently wrong.

A False Witness Who Pours Out Lies

Once again, we go back to the root of all sin:  Pride.  A prideful person is quick to lie about others in order to make themselves look better.  If they accuse others falsely, they can blame others for something they did or something that they should have done.  I have heard this occur many times in the workplace.  Some will constantly be blaming others at work for their own lack of responsibility.  When things go wrong, they are always quick to point the finger.  It is what one co-worker of mine said: “They threw me under the bus.”  This means that they got blamed for something that they did not do and they were not responsible for in order for the lying person to look like a better worker.  They fail to shoulder the blame for something that they should have done or actually did do in order to accuse an innocent person who is not present to defend themselves.  This type of behavior is extremely harmful for company morale and lowers the dignity of fellow human beings.

A false witness will lie in court, perhaps even at the risk of perjury, just to get out of a crime that they committed, while assessing the blame on an innocent party.  A person who “pours out lies” loses all credibility in time and eventually, people will tend to not believe anything they say.  Lies catch up with a person because they have to speak other lies to cover up the first one and many times they become so entrapped by their many lies that they become like a fly ensnared in a web.  Their web gets so tangled up with their many lies that they often forget them all and it comes back to hurt them.

A Person Who Stirs up Conflict

This last but not least sin is one that has divided many churches.  Gossip is one way to stir up conflict and divide even the closest of friends.  A person who stirs up this conflict is like a person who throws gas on a fire that others are trying to put out.  Its like dragging up old issues that might have been resolved but a person stirs up the issue over and over again.  When they are constantly stirring it up, like coals of a fire, it becomes hotter and hotter, and eventually erupts into a bonfire.  The person who is continually stirring up conflict is also a person who is full of pride.  They want others to have conflict so that they are considered to be a person above reproach.  They might say that at least they are not having conflict but in reality, they are doing nothing to settle it but doing everything to increase it.

Paul had many problems with the churches in this area and a person who stirred up conflicts would have been disfellowshipped because they are dividing the church – the Body of Christ – and this is a serious sin to Jesus Who is the Head of the church.  It only takes a small amount of stirring to get a fire started again and Paul had no small conflicts going on in the Corinthian church due to conflict.  The King James Version states it as “he that sows discord among brethren” so the sin in this verse seems to be talking precisely about the congregation or in the Old Testament, the community – in either case it is equally harmful (Prov 6:19).  When there is division in the church as there was in the Corinthian church (1 Cor 12, 13), then the cause of Christ and His witness is hurt and God will not leave those who are responsible without discipline.  Again, this sin is rooted in pride because no one gossips to help another or stirs up conflict to make others look good.  When we stir up conflict, we want to make ourselves look better in comparison.

Pride is at the root of all sin, but when pride comes, so eventually does the person’s fall and it can be swift and painful.  Jesus is the Head of the church and He will not allow the leavening of sin to permeate through the church to do the Bride of Christ harm.  Just as pride caused Satan’s fall, it can cause a believer’s fall too.  It was the first sin in the history of God’s creation and it is still at the root of all sin today and that is why it is listed first in the seven deadly sins.  May it not even be named among those of the children of God.

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New International Version Bible
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