The capital sins are, according to the teaching of the Catholic faith, seven natural inclinations of the human being that can lead him to fall into other sins. In the sixth century, Pope Gregory made official the first list of seven made up of pride, envy, avarice, anger, lust, gluttony, and sloth.
The term “capital” does not refer to the seriousness of these sins but to the fact that they often lead us to commit others. The Bible does not give a list of capital sins, although it does tell us about these seven and encourages us to overcome them. Let’s look at a brief definition of each.
- Pride or arrogance: esteem and undue love for oneself. Uncontrolled appreciation of one’s worth, an intense search for attention and honor.
- Envy, jealousy: inordinate desire to possess what others have. Great sadness or regret at the good of others and joy at their setbacks.
- Greed: excessive desire to obtain material goods and wealth, being willing to use, if necessary, illicit means to obtain them.
- Anger: the feeling of great anger that leads us to behave in a cruel and violent way. The cause may be real or apparent, but the feeling is so strong that it often clouds reason and prevents differentiation.
- Lust: excessive desire for carnal pleasures that leads to sexual immorality. Seeks to satisfy the sexual desire in an impulsive and disorderly way.
- Gluttony: gluttony, uncontrolled appetite for food and drink. It does not understand economic limits or the damage it can cause to health or interpersonal relationships.
- Laziness: an unbalanced fondness for rest and leisure. He neglects his duties to God, to himself, and to society.
What does the Bible say about them and how to beat them?
The Bible makes it clear that God does not like the pride and warns us that its fruit is destruction. “Pride is followed by destruction; to arrogance, failure” (Proverbs 16:18). It destroys friendships, and families and destroys our dependence on God.
Our attitude must be one of humility, of appreciation for those around us. Romans 12:3 exhorts us, “Let no one think of himself higher than he ought to think of himself, but rather think of himself in moderation.”
The Lord is exalted, but he takes into account the humble and looks from afar at the proud. (Psalm 138:6)
The greatest example of humility is found in Jesus and he must be our model in everything. Jesus was willing to humble himself for the love of us and die on the cross to give us salvation. We must let his love transform us and flow through our lives so that he gets all the glory.
Your attitude should be like that of Christ Jesus, who, being God by nature, did not consider equality with God something to cling to. On the contrary, he voluntarily lowered himself, taking on the nature of a servant and making himself similar to human beings. And, by manifesting himself as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, and death on a cross!
2. envy, jealousy
Envy brings dissension and discord. “For where there is envy and rivalry, there is also confusion and all kinds of evil deeds” (James 3:16). Many times we are tempted by envy when we see others succeed or be recognized and feel ignored. That is where the seed of envy and jealousy begins to be planted. We need to be alert and firm in the Lord so as not to give in or fall into his trap.
Our attitude changes when we are filled with the Holy Spirit. We learn to rejoice in the achievements of others. Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who are joyful; cry with those who cry. Therein lies the key. First, learn to be happy and satisfied with everything that God has given us. Then ask God to transform our hearts so that we can feel genuine joy in seeing the accomplishments of others.
At one time we too were foolish and disobedient. We were misguided and were slaves to all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy. We were obnoxious and we hated each other. But, when the goodness and love of God our Savior were manifested, he saved us, not by our own works of justice, but by his mercy.
God provides us with everything we need, we must be satisfied with his provision. Greed grows when we remove God from the throne of our hearts and place dissatisfaction and the desire for more. Matthew 6:24 says “No one can serve two masters, for he will despise one and love the other, or love one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and riches at the same time». To get rid of greed we need to decide who will own our hearts.
We overcome greed with gratitude for God’s provision. “Keep free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, because God has said: “I will never leave you; I will never forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). We must trust that God’s provision is and always will be sufficient, be content and be thankful.
So if we have clothes and food, let’s be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and become slaves to their many desires. These foolish and harmful endeavors plunge people into ruin and destruction. Because the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. By coveting it, some have strayed from the faith and have caused themselves many troubles.
(1 Timothy 6:8-10)
The Bible does not forbid us to get angry. Anger is a good emotion in circumstances such as injustice, abuse, or oppression, prompting us to contribute to preventing that situation from continuing.
What the Bible does forbid is letting anger turn into destructive, irrational anger. In Ephesians 4:26-27 we read: “If you are angry, do not sin. Don’t let your anger last until sunset, and don’t give the devil a foothold.” We see that there is a level of anger, anger, that is sinful and we must not allow it to dominate us because it opens a door to the influence of the devil.
My dear brothers, keep this in mind: Everyone must be ready to listen, and slow to speak and slow to get angry; for human anger does not produce the just life that God wants (James 1:19-20).
When anger takes over we lose sight of God’s presence and forget that we can trust him. We want to take justice into our hands and make the other person pay and get what they deserve. But it must not be so. We must always trust in God’s justice and do what is good and pleasing in his eyes.
Do not take revenge, my brothers, but leave the punishment in the hands of God, for it is written: “Vengeance is mine; I will pay,” says the Lord. Rather, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink. By acting like this, you will make him ashamed of his conduct. Do not let yourself be overcome by evil; on the contrary, overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:19-21)
When Jesus enters our hearts, he transforms the way we see everything, including our bodies. We realize that our body belongs to God since he created us. His purpose for us is that we glorify him in all our actions, words, and thoughts.
All areas of our life must show that Jesus is our Lord. We need to submit to him in the sexual area. When we belong to God, we treat our body and that of others with respect, we do not let improper thoughts control us that do not glorify God. We reject what displeases God and let the Holy Spirit lead us and teach us to appreciate and respect our bodies and those around us.
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins that a person commits are outside of his body; but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Do you not know that his body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you and whom you have received from God? You are not your own owners; they were bought with a price. Therefore, honor God with your body.
(1 Corinthians 6:18-20)
This is another sin that harms our bodies. Some think that to show their worth they must eat lavishly at exclusive restaurants and drink expensive drinks. Others try to satisfy their emotional needs or repair the damage they have caused to their loved ones through food and alcohol. None of this pleases God.
My son, pay attention and be wise; keep your heart on the straight path. Do not associate with those who drink a lot of wine, nor with those who gorge themselves on meat, because drunk and gluttonous, because of their indolence, they end up ragged and poor.
Gluttony affects our health, our finances, and our relationships with others. It separates us from God and our loved ones because we focus on eating or drinking instead of seeking to resolve our conflicts and problems through dialogue or asking God for wisdom. If we fill ourselves with God and see our problems or our appearance as he sees them, we will take refuge in him and not in food or drink.
Let us live decently, as in the light of day, not in orgies and drunkenness, nor in sexual immorality and debauchery, nor in dissension and envy. Rather, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not worry about satisfying the desires of the sinful nature.
The sloth separates himself from others physically and emotionally because he only wants his own rest and well-being. Proverbs 6:9-11 describes it like this: “You lazy man, how much longer will you lie down? When do you wake up from your sleep? A short sleep, a short nap, a little rest, arms crossed… and poverty will assail you like a bandit, and scarcity like an armed man!”
God has given us all skills, and gifts that we must use to work, support ourselves and our families and contribute to society. God puts desires in our hearts and gives us the tools to fulfill them. We must be diligent in discovering and using those abilities that he has given us. It is a way of showing gratitude and appreciation to God for his design in us.
Never stop being diligent; rather, serve the Lord with the fervor that the Spirit gives.
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How to victory over sin
Sin separates us from God and prevents his purposes from being fulfilled in us. We all have struggles. Whether with one of these seven sins or any other, we often struggle with our sinful nature. But God has given us the tools to overcome sin. We can approach God in prayer, with an attitude of humility and repentance. God never rejects a heart that he acknowledges has failed. Psalm 51:17 says “You, O God, do not despise a broken and repentant heart.”
And so it is. When we come humbly before him, God receives us, forgives us, and restores us.
He fills us with his Holy Spirit and helps us to live in holiness showing his love, reflecting the victory over our sins and the joy of being guided by him.
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature, with its passions and desires. If the Spirit gives us life, let us walk guided by the Spirit.