There are seven things that God hates that are frequently called the seven deadly sins. They are listed in the Book of Proverbs which is part of the Wisdom Literature of the Bible. What are these “deadly sins” and what can a believer do to avoid them?
Why Are They Called “Deadly?”
Isn’t all sin the cause of death? Paul wrote that “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 6:23) and every single human that has ever lived has sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Rom 3:23). Really, all sin is deadly but are some sins more deadly than others? In God’s eyes, sin is sin and it all brings eternal death but God gives us a way out through His Son Jesus Christ because “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21).
The Seven Deadly Sins
Proverbs 6:16-19 records the seven things or sins that God considers as detestable. Here is the list where He says, “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him”
Haughty Eyes - Proverbs 6:17
A haughty spirit or having haughty eyes means that we look down upon others in a condescending way. We think more highly of ourselves than we should. This is where we look scornfully, disdainfully, or almost arrogantly at others. The expression “looking down our nose” at someone applies here. Really, pride is behind all sin and it at the root of every kind of sin there is and this is why God resists the proud but He gives grace to the humble. When we look at others in a condescending way, a way in which we feel we are superior, we anger God for God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). Pride caused David to count his troops, pride caused Solomon to fall, and pride caused King Nebuchadnezzar to attribute his vast kingdom from his own hand. The Proverb is true…”Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov 16:18). The fact is that “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom” (Prov 11:2). God tells us that “Before his downfall a man's heart is proud, but humility comes before honor” (Prov 18:12). If “A man’s pride brings him low [then] a man of lowly spirit gains honor” (Prov 29:23).
A Lying Tongue - Proverbs 6:17
The first sin that happened in the Garden of Eden was a lie. Satan lied to Eve and caused the fall of mankind and he has been lying ever since. One lie can destroy so much. God can not lie since it is against His own nature but “every man [is] a liar” (Rom 3:4). Pride is behind all lies because it tends to make the liar appear better than others and may be covering up something which might make them look worse. When we lie to God we are committing cosmic treason because we are made in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1:27). This is deadly because we are breaking a commandment to not bear false witness.
Hands that Shed Innocent Blood - Proverbs 6:17
The Sixth Commandment is not “Thou shall not kill” but actually “Thou shall not murder.” Killing is sometimes necessary in times of national war or in cases of defending oneself. Police sometimes are forced to kill or be killed or kill to prevent others from being killed, however Jesus equated murder with hating a brother or sister. Jesus was clear about hate being murder in the heart saying, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell” (Matt 5:21-22). This is deadly because we can commit murder in our hearts and murder is breaking the Sixth Commandment.
A Heart That Devises Wicked Schemes - Proverbs 6:18
A “heart that devises wicked schemes” is a heart that is making premeditated decisions because if someone is devising to do evil, they have made a decision before hand to do something that they inherently know is wrong. It is not something that they say, “Well, I didn’t know any better” because Romans 2:15 says “their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing” them. For example, it is a universal moral that it is wrong to kill. Someone that commits premeditated murder has schemed ahead of time to do this even though their own conscience tells them it is wrong. This is a deadly sin because they feel no remorse, have no repentance, and know without a doubt that what they are doing is breaking the commandment to not murder.
Feet that are Quick to Rush into Evil - Proverbs 6:18
This may be one of the most common sins. It seems that today there is more road rage, flaring tempers, raging anger, uncontrollable emotions, and short fuses and the emotions too easily get the best of people. Those “feet that are quick to rush into evil” are those who quickly join in a riot, take advantage and loot homes and businesses after a disaster or break into a fist fight over the most trivial things. I remember hearing a news story where two customers got into an argument over who was next in line at a fast food counter and one person ended up shooting the other person to death. I suppose the old custom of “counting to ten” is passé today. Uncontrollable anger and rage is basically like murdering someone in your heart as Jesus said, “anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell” (Matt 5:22).
A False Witness Who Pours Out Lies - Proverbs 6:19
If you sin this sin in a court of law, you are subject to a stiff fine, imprisonment or both so even the secular society knows intrinsically that giving a false testimony or witness is wrong. Perjury is a very serious crime but wasn’t lying already mentioned and isn‘t it the same thing as lying? In essences yes, but this is a liar or false witness who is pouring them out like filling a cup from pitcher. When we are baring false witness, we are violating not only a commandment but we are making a false accusation against someone. There are exceptions of course when it is deemed necessary to prevent someone from dying. Many who hid the Jews during World War Two lied to the Nazi authorities to protect the innocent victims. The higher, moral principal was to save lives. Having said that, there are really no such things as “white lies.” Proverbs 26:28 says it all, “A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin.”
Either a person tells the truth or they are giving a false (or wrong) witness. This commandment is one of the most frequently held sins and someone who lies almost always does so to make themselves look better or to escape blame for something that they did that was wrong. Notice that the Scripture said “who pours out lies.” This language seems to indicate that the person is an unrepentant and unremorseful sinner who frequently lies. The problem this person faces is not just the wrath of God but after some time, no one will believe them. They will lose all credibility with people. They may become like the boy who cried wolf and people may say about them, “Well, just consider the source.” Giving false testimony or being a false witness about others is basically assassinating their character and doing it behind their back which is exceedingly cowardly.
A Man (any person) Who Stirs up Dissension Among Brother (or sisters) - Proverbs 6:19
As a pastor, I have seen and experienced this most heinous of sins. A person that causes division can split churches, cause divorces, break up friendships, ruin relationships, and bring strife anywhere they may find themselves. I knew of a church one time that split over the choice the board was making over the color of the foyer carpet. How tragic to bring dissension among Christians over something so trivial. Notice the Scripture said that they “stir up” this dissention, showing that it is done with intent, malice, and purpose to do harm.
Look at the horrendous group of sins that Paul mentions in the same sentence to the Corinthians as dissension; “idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions” (1 Cor 11:19). Can Paul mean it? He mentions dissension in the same breath as idolatry, witchcraft, selfishness, and rage! Notice that these all involve pride, which is basically at the root of all sin. When a person is causing divisions in the church, they are doing what is contrary to the Lord’s command that we all be as one and that we are one body, the Body of Christ the Church. How serious is it to cause divisions in the Body of Christ? Most serious indeed. Serious enough that it was grounds to be dis-fellowshipped in the early church.
Get this image in your mind about dissension or division. Picture the bride coming down the isle just before she weds the groom. Her sleeve is torn, her nose it bloodied, she has a black eye and her veil is ripped. To someone outside of the church who is not saved, they think, “Well, here comes the Bride of Christ and it looks like she has been fighting with herself again.” Causing division or dissension is sin and one that God takes extremely seriously.
I realize that many churches or theologians may have different views of what exactly are the seven deadly sins but taking them from Proverbs 6:16-19, these are things that God hates. Some translations say that they are an abomination to God. Things that are said to be an abomination to God are those things done by people who are not going to inherit eternal life and enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. I am not saying that we all don’t do these at times, for if I cast stones, it would be at the man in the mirror, but to see how God views these may be reason enough to pray to avoid them. Being forewarned is forearmed. I say this more to me than I do to you for I know my own heart and it is deceitfully wicked…and who can know it but God (Jer 17:9)?
Jack Wellman is Senior Writer at What Christians Want to Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believers daily walk with God and the Bible.