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Cultivating Habits Of Life And Death

Cultivating Habits of Life and Death

Vices kill. Simply put, vices are habits, repeated sins, that can kill you. Mind. Body. And Soul. Perhaps not literally, and not immediately. But over time, as we’ve heard throughout our sermon series, vices can stunt spiritual growth, undermine relationships, and wreak emotional and physical havoc. One of the worst things we can do is ignore the impact of vices in our lives. Our repeated engagement with any of the seven capital vices ultimately causes heartache, mars relationships, disappoints God, and even rewires our brains.

We all have our vices. And we owe it to ourselves and to our neighbors to look inside, identify our vices, and take concrete step to combat them. N.T. Wright helpfully distinguishes between the easy gravity of vice and the upward climb of virtue:

“…anybody can learn a vice; all you have to do is to go into neutral, slide along with the way stuff is going, and before too long, certain habits of life will have you in their grip. You don’t have to think about it, you don’t have to try; it’ll happen. But virtue, you have to think about…you have to make a decision to be this sort of person now…

Ouch, right?

It takes work to combat vice. Hard work. Thankfully, as we have seen, the Bible points us to remedies. And to grace. But while grace is free, it is never cheap. N.T. Wright goes on to explain:

“Virtue is what happens when you make a thousand small decisions consciously thought out so that on the thousand and first occasion, you will unhesitatingly and instinctively – by second nature – act virtuously. Nobody does it by nature. Some people, thank God, do it by second nature.”

So where do we go from here?

How does what we’ve learned change how we live on Monday, on Tuesday, as we interact with those closest to us, or go about our work? How do we cultivate life-enriching habits?

Even after eight weeks of sermons, we’ve only begun to scratch the surface.

The summary below offers a brief inventory of the seven deadly vices and their corresponding virtuous solutions. We’ve paired each set with a few thoughts or questions to help us recognize what these topics might look like in our own lives, and a brief (but not exhaustive) list of resources for each topic to place us on the path that is hard work but ends in reward.

Our sermons will always be available for listening if you need a refresher course. (Want extra credit? Consider listening to the same sermon topic from one of our other campuses to get a slightly different perspective.) Remember that we were not meant to walk this path alone. Talk to a trusted friend, meet with a pastor. Seek help if you are struggling.

Our prayer is that this series would continue to speak to you and challenge you in your walk as we work together to multiply disciples of character in our homes and community.


Sermon Series Resources

  • Glittering Vices by Rebecca DeYoung
  • Killjoys: The Seven Deadly Sins by John Piper
  • Sermon Series, “The Seven Deadly Sins” by Timothy J. Keller
  • Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be by Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.
  • Changes That Heal by Henry Cloud

Envy/Kindness

Big Idea: Envy is the death of love; Kill envy with kindness before it kills you.

Vice: Envy – feeling bitter when others have it better

Virtue: Kindness – receiving God’s kindness and extending that kindness to others

Notes:

  • Envy often begins with simple comparison but leads to despising those who have what we want.
  • The biggest difficulty with this is that envy’s roots lie in our own insecurities and misshapen identity.
  • Kindness works in two ways. First, to receive God’s kindness for you as enough. And second, to extend that kindness toward others.
  • Your value is rooted in God’s love and not in comparing yourself to others.
  • Extend kindness toward your rivals. Write them an encouraging note. Do something to make them look good in front of others. Seek their betterment whenever possible.

Resources:

  • Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • The Art of Divine Contentment by Thomas Watson
  • Comparison Trap by Sandra Stanley

Vainglory/Humility

Big Idea: Whose applause are you living for?

Vice: Vainglory – the desperate desire to look good to others

Virtue: Humility – displaying the glory of another

Notes:

  • Vainglory literally means “empty” glory and can be borne out of arrogance where we think we are better than others, or insecurity where we are afraid others will discover we are not all we pretend to be.
  • One way we can check ourselves is to ask, “whose applause are you living for?”
  • Vainglory is combatted through the practice of humility. Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.
  • We must seek to display the glory of God. This leads to true freedom.
  • The way forward in growing in humility is through secrecy. Secrecy is practiced through silence (abstaining from talking) and solitude (removing yourself from any audience).

Resources:

  • Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard
  • In the Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen
  • Silence and Solitude by Ruth Barton
  • Vainglory: The Forgotten Vice by Rebecca DeYoung
  • Humility by CJ Mahaney

Sloth/Diligence

Big Idea:  Sloth hides best in busyness.

Vice: Sloth – laziness with what matters most

Virtue: Diligence – being faithful to work hard on what matters most

Notes:

  • Sloth is too lazy to change. We won’t put forth the effort to work on the best things rather than good things.
  • Sloth is too lazy to love. Loving and serving those around us requires hard work and diligence.
  • We need to slow down and spend time working on what matters most.

Resources:

  • Emotionally Healthy Leader by Peter Scazzero
  • The Attentive Life: Discerning God’s Presence in All Things by Leighton Ford
  • What’s Best Next by Matt Perman
  • Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

Greed/Generosity

Big Idea: The more you want the less you have.

Vice: Greed –  being too attached to money and possessions, always wanting more

Virtue: Generosity – giving ourselves away for the good of others

Notes:

  • Greed promises happiness but can never be satisfied.
  • Greed robs us of the joy in celebrating what we do have. Instead, we are always thinking of and moving on to the next thing, wanting just a little bit more.
  • What we are looking for is already offered to us. God has already offered us security, status, and significance through His Son, Jesus.
  • Generosity thrives on faith.
  • Generosity frees us from the tyranny of wanting more. God tells us that we are created to be generous, in the image of God, and we are supposed to mirror Him.
  • God commands us to be generous because He knows this is what is best for us.

Resources:


Anger/Patience

Big Idea: You’re angrier than you realize.

Vice: Anger – demanding justice on our own terms

Virtue: Patience – using anger properly

Notes:

  • We are all angrier than we realize.
  • We often dismiss our anger as “not a big deal” or excuse our anger by blaming someone else: “they made me angry.”
  • We need to own up to the fact that we are often too easily angered and that our anger is often excessive.
  • Scripture doesn’t say anger is a sin, rather it says to be angry about the right things.
  • The opposite of anger is not apathy or indifference, rather it is love, and sometimes love requires getting angry.
  • Anger is almost always a secondary emotion to fear or sadness.
  • Ask yourself what lies beneath your anger?
  • Understand that it’s ok to be angry, but instead of lashing out and responding in anger by hurting those around us, practice patience. Properly wield your anger to love those around you.

Resources:

  • Anger: Handling a Powerful Emotion in a Healthy Way by Gary Chapman
  • Emotionally Healthy Leader  by Peter Scazzaro
  • Unoffendable by Brant Hansen
  • Consider keeping an anger journal, or talking with someone about what lies beneath your anger.

Gluttony/Temperance

Big Idea: Our hunger can never be satisfied with food.

Vice: Gluttony – the endless pursuit of pleasure above all else

Virtue: Temperance – self-control and moderation

Notes:

  • Gluttony isn’t just a love of food. Gluttony is the endless pursuit of pleasure above all else. It’s a life dedicated to the quest for superficial satisfaction.
  • This is a vice for anyone who asks food to make them feel ok (whether unhealthy or healthy food).
  • Food becomes a problem when we start to make it god.
  • Food can be redeemed through the virtue of temperance: self-control and moderation. Pursue contentment with our daily bread.
  • Delight in community and celebration. Say “yes” to food and feasts not for satisfaction but to celebrate and praise God.
  • Bring Christ to the table. Let Jesus be the guest of every meal.

Resources:

  • A Hunger for God through Fasting and Prayer by John Piper
  • God’s Chosen Fast: A Spiritual and Practical Guide to Fasting by Arthur Willis
  • Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food by Lysa TerKeurest

Lust/Chastity

Big Idea: Long for more than what lust desires.

Vice: Lust – places sex over love and is sexual desire on a one-way street

Virtue: Chastity – the wisdom of wholeness; puts desire and love in their proper place

Notes:

  • Sex and sexual desire are good, God-given gifts.
  • Lust is not a problem because it wants too much from sex but because it desires too little from sex.
  • Lust places sex above love. Lust is sexual desire on a one-way street; it makes it all about me and not the other person.
  • Chastity is about wholeness. It puts desire and love in their proper place that we might enjoy authentic relationships to find intimacy and greater joy.
  • Practice chastity:
    – by setting boundaries and having accountability
    – by expressing love to all people as people and not commodities
    – by fighting worldly shame
  • While the wounds of our sexual sin cut deep, the grace of God through the gospel of Jesus cuts deeper.

Resources:

  • Teaching Your Child Healthy Sexuality by Jim Burns
  • Real Sex by Lauren Winner (adults and older teens)
  • Sex: It’s Worth Waiting For by Greg Speck (students)
  • Singled Out: Why Celibacy Must Be Reinvented in Today’s Church by Christine Colón and Bonnie Field
  • Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace by Heath Lambert
  • Closing the Window: Steps to Living Porn Free by Tim Chester
  • Covenant Eyes software
  • X3 Watch software
  • Ever Accountable software

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