What is a “Deadly” sin and what are the Seven Deadly Sins from The Bible? In this article we’ll explore where they come from in the Bible, what each of the 7 Deadly Sins are, and talk about their relationship to the infamous Chairs of Woe which feature prominently in the books The Last Temptation of John – a trilogy of novels about the events of The Book of Revelations and the emergence of The Antichrist during our times.
What is a “Deadly” sin?
The “Deadly” sin is also known as ‘capital sin’ or a ‘mortal sin‘ because committing this types of sins was historically associated with a sin of such magnitude that it would be worthy of eternal death. If the person who committed the sin did not get absolved from it (via the Catholic sacrament of Confession), then they were believed doomed to spend eternity in the fires of Hell.
Think of a Deadly Sin as a crime that is punishable in the modern world by capital punishment (AKA “The Death Penalty”) and you’ll understand the significance of a ‘Deadly’ sin to a person who lived in the Middle Ages.
What are the Latin Names for the 7 Deadly Sins?
English to Latin
Lust = Luxuria
Gluttony = Gula
Greed = Avaritia
Sloth = Acedia or Tristitia
Wrath = Ira
Envy = Invidia
Pride = Superbia
What is the Meaning of the Seven Deadly Sins?
To understand the meaning of the 7 Deadly Sins we should first understand the context that made them popular. Dante Alighieri (AKA just “Dante”) was a famous poet and writer who lived in Italy during the Late Middle Ages – a period during which Europe (and especially Italy) was essentially ruled by the Catholic Church. Most of the people of the time were poor and endured terrible hardships during their lives – they didn’t have much to hope for in this world so many put their faith in the promise of a better life in the afterlife of The Bible as promised them by The Church.
To attain such an afterlife (unless one could afford to buy indulgences to pay for their sins – which most of the poor could not afford to do), a person had to live a good live on earth (by practicing the 7 Virtues discussed below) and above all avoiding the mortal sins that could cast them into Hell.
Although he didn’t invent the deadly sins (see below), Dante certainly made them famous when he wrote a trilogy of epic poems called “The Divine Comedy” which included the works “Inferno,” “Purgatorio,” and “Paradisio.” The most famous of these was “Inferno” (his vision of Hell) and this is the one wherein Dante brought The Seven Deadly Sins to life in graphic detail with his writing and the artist Gustave Dore took it a step further with his art…
In Dante’s book, the sinners whose souls are stuck in Hell (i.e. The Inferno) must endure an eternity of punishment by forever ‘living’ the very sin that put them in hell. And this is what brings us to our meaning for each of the 7 deadly sins…
Lust – Luxuria – The First Deadly Sin
Dante’s first deadly sin was Lust, AKA Luxuria. This could be a carnal desire or a lust for something non-sexual. From a sexual standpoint this sin could be “unbridled sexual desire that causes the sinner to fornicate, commit adultery, rape, bestiality, and other immoral sexual acts.” But lust of a non-sexual exists too – think lust for wealth, lust for power, etc. Anything a sinner lusts for is something that person places above God and thus the ‘deadly’ nature of this sin.
Gluttony – Gula – The Second Deadly Sin
The sin of Gluttony is overindulgence. Too much of anything is never a good thing, right? The over consumption that comes from being a glutton leads to waste and when you consider that food was scare and famines were frequent during the time Dante wrote, you get a better understanding why gluttony was such a big deal – if greedy rich people eat all the rood, that leaves little left for the needy and poor. Beyond just overeating, Gula is also associated with selfishness and the sin of gluttony occurs when you place your own desires above those of others. Similar to Lust, the deadly sin of Gluttony causes the sinner to desire something above God – which is a surefire ticket to Dante’s Inferno, where said sinner can eat whatever they desired most in life again, and again, and again for all time… no matter how sick of it they become.
Greed – Avaritia – The Third Deadly Sin
Similar to Lust, the sin of Green is associated with desire – in this case mostly for wordly possession. Think “avarice” or “covetousness” and you’ll understand this sin. The Catholic Church talks about this sin as having an uncontrolled “desire and pursuit of material possessions” and Thomas Aquinas wrote, “Greed is a sin against God…in as much as man condemns things eternal for the sake of temporal things.” Examples of Greed are hoarding, theft, miserliness, simony, etc. Remember the words of Jesus from Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters… you can’t love both God and Money.” A sinner greedy for worldly possessions, loses their focus on God, thus forfeiting their potential treasures in heaven for the wealth of this world – which is unfortunately all too fleeting.
Sloth – Acedia or Tristitia – The Fourth Deadly Sin.
Unlike the other deadly sins, which are sins of action, the deadly sin of Sloth is a sin of INACTION. When we think of Sloth now, we usually bring to mind someone who is lazy , but the sin of Sloth is more than just laying around, it’s a failure to do, a failure to act, even a failure to feel. Dante wrote that Acedia was a “failure to love God with all one’s heart, all one’s mind and all one’s soul” (which bring to mind Jesus’ words in Luke 10:27). A person is such a state of apathy would be committing a deadly sin because they are failing to focus on God’s goodness and God’s mission for them in this world – by not using their talents they are destroying God’s work in their life.
Wrath – Ira – The Fifth Deadly Sin
The sin of Wrath is many things – including anger, hate, rage, and the desire for revenge. People who commit the sin of Wrath often do acts of violence that harm others (think murder, rape, torture, acts of war) or themselves (self-torture, suicide). Since this type of action is a violation of numerous Commandments it’s not hard to see why Wrath is a deadly sin that would send someone to Hell.
Envy – Invidia – The Sixth Deadly Sin
Envy is another deadly since based on desire. It’s also another associated with the 10 Commandments – (specifically the “Thou Shalt Not Covet” commandmens #8, 9, & 10). When someone is jealous of what their neighbor has, it creates a feeling of discontent and eventually severs their relationship. Envy can take many forms beyond just a desire for someone’s possessions, it could also be jealously for someone else’s appearance, status in life, abilities, etc. Dante wrote that envy was “a desire to deprive other men of theirs” and Dante’s punishment for those who committed the deadly sin of Envy was “to have their eyes sewn shut with wire because they gained sinful pleasure from seeing others brought low” – ouch!
Pride – Superbia – The Seventh Deadly Sin
Believe it or not, the sin of Pride was the most deadly sin of all. Dante’s definition of pride was “love of self perverted to hatred and contempt for one’s neighbor” and although it is last on the list of deadly sins, Dante consider it the worst. Why? Consider that Pride is the very sin that caused the angel Lucifer to be cast out of heaven. Biblical writers warn against the sin of Pride no less than 30 times in the Bible (for example Proverbs 16:5 ” The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.”) One could even argue that The Original Sin of Adam and Eve was one of Pride – the conscious decision to eat of the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in an effort to become more like God is perhaps the most prideful sin in human history. Thus Pride is (and always has been) the most deadly of the seven deadly sins.
Are the 7 Deadly Sins In The Bible?
The short answer is “NO” – the seven deadly sins are NOT listed in The Bible in the format we are used to seeing them in: i.e. Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, and Pride.
If they are not listed in the Bible, where did the 7 deadly sins come from?
In the 4th century a Christian mystic named Evagrius Ponticus listed 8 ‘Principal Vices’ which the Christian monk John Cassian cataloged in his writings (the additeional vice being one called “Vainglory“). Later, in the 6th century, Pope Gregory I trimmed the list of Cassian’s eight vices down to the “Seven Deadly Sins” that Dante made famous and which we know today. Pope Gregory viewed these as capital (i.e. “principal”) because many other sins came from them. Additionally, according to this source, they are enumerated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1866.
Although the 7 deadly sins are not ‘listed’ in a single list form anywhere in the Bible, they are certainly discussed throughout the text. Here’s an example (from a fellow blogger) of the sins referenced in numerous Bible books…
What are the Seven Virtues
The Seven (Christian) Virtues (Latin) are:
Meanwhile, check out this amazing painting that depicts that Seven Virtues and the Sven Vices by Francesco Pesellino.
What are The Chairs of Woe? How do The Chairs of Woe and 7 Deadly Sins Fit Into The Last Temptation of John books?
The Chairs of Woe are torture devices that exist in the fictional world created by author M. C. Stoppa’s The Last Temptation of John books.
The Chairs of Woe are used by The Antichrist to torture the character Alan Zarus (AKA Lazarus) in an effort to get the immortal to reveal the location of the remaining Nails of Christ which The Beast needs to complete The Armageddon Rite to stop the Second Coming of Jesus.
Each Chair of Woe is located in a different room within the Antichrist’s palace and each chair is associated with one of the seven deadly sins – thus there are chairs for Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Wrath, Sloth, Envy and Pride.
No mortal could endure a single Chair of Woe for very long without perishing, yet when the Antichrist forces the immortal Lazarus to endure the torture of The Chairs, disastrous consequences result – since Lazarus can’t die, he is forced to suffer beyond measure and only the combined efforts of his fellow immortals can save him – if they dare to try to break into The Beast’s stronghold.
The Antichrist and The 7 Deadly Sins
The Antichrist has come
What if the events detailed in The Book of Revelations were about to occur… this year?
Could anyone save us from certain death? The answer is YES. Hard as it may be to believe, St. John the Apostle is still alive today – having been blessed with the Gift of Immortality so that he could survive to fight against the coming of The Antichrist. Unfortunately, over the course of the last 2,000 years John has lost is faith!
Can John recover his faith in time to stop Armageddon or will Satan’s Son achieve Ultimate Victory? The answer to that question and many more will be revealed in the thrilling new book series The Last Temptation of John.
Read it the trilogy today… if your faith is strong enough.