Romans 1:29-31 “So they were filled with all injustice, wicked behavior, greed, and evil behavior. They are full of jealousy, murder, fighting, deception, and malice. They are gossips, they slander people, and they hate God. They are rude and proud, and they brag. They invent ways to be evil, and they are disobedient to their parents. They are without understanding, disloyal, without affection and without mercy.” (CEB)
We have all heard of the seven deadly sins. Apparently that list was short because there are three times as many sins mentioned here. What these have in common is the focus on the self. None of these acts takes God or others into account or consideration. All of these acts are geared toward pleasing the self.
Injustice: To value yourself or something that gives you an advantage over another is an injustice to the other person.
Wicked Behavior: Acting in a way that causes damage to another for your own benefit.
Greed: Wanting more material possessions for yourself. More money, more toys, and more pleasure for you mean that you are focusing on your happiness and no one else’s.
Evil Behavior: Behaving in a manner that is selfish and does not take into account either the well-being or feelings of others.
Jealousy: Jealousy is not focused on the object but rather on keeping the object. As a result jealousy is self-centered.
Murder: As a capital offense, murder is always committed as a selfish act.
Fighting: Sometimes we fight to protect someone as an altruistic battle. Other times we fight to defend something we hold to be important to us. Fighting for selfish reasons is what is considered wrong. Fighting to get something for oneself; fighting to take something away from someone else; and fighting because you feel, rightly or wrongly, that you are in the right and someone else is in the wrong are all focused on the self and therefore idolatrous in nature.
Deception: Most of the time, the purpose for deception is to gain an advantage over someone in order to receive some benefit.
Malice: Malice is focused on the self and its own desire to inflict injury, harm, or suffering on another. The source of malice is either a hostile impulse or a self-focused attitude of being mean just because it brings pleasure to the actor.
Gossip: One of the worst behaviors of civilized society. Some people will gossip and not think that it is gossip, just a commentary. By speaking about someone else, the speaker is trying to elevate him or herself above the person he or she is talking about. The true source is an attitude of selfishness.
Slander: Saying something false about someone else to cover up your own deficiencies or to defend yourself from an accusation is a focus on the self that puts the other person in jeopardy.
Hating God: The decision to hate God is either based on anger at God for something that you blame Him for or the decision to believe that He does not exist. In either case the motive is self-centered. Blaming God for something precludes you from taking responsibility for your actions and decisions or the actions and decisions of others. This anger comes from a notion that if you were God you would do things differently, therefore putting yourself in the place of God and thus is self-worship. The decision to not believe in the existence of God presupposes that the origin of everything is either natural or that all success and advancement is only due to the knowledge and intellect of humans. It promotes the idea of self-reliance and disposes of any notion that God is in control. The self is at the center of both these decisions.
Rudeness: Rudeness shows contempt toward others. It is an attitude that demonstrates selfishness by not taking into account the feelings of others but only the feelings of the self.
Pride: Pride is an emotion that is directed inwardly referring to an inflated sense of one’s personal status or accomplishments. Pride is selfish in that the proud person is in love with their own accomplishments.
Bragging: Hand in hand with pride is the act of telling others about your accomplishments for the sole reason of making them jealous of those accomplishments. Sometimes we tell others what we are doing well as a way of building our own egos up. This too is selfish and inwardly focused.
Inventing ways to be evil: Probably the best word to describe this is Scheming or scamming. People who have the ability to quickly come up with ways to scam or cheat others out of money or any other thing are those who are inventing ways to be evil. They do it thinking only about their own personal gain and so are in direct violation of God’s commandment to not worship any other god.
Parental disobedience: Parents are placed in our lives by God as overseers. We are to live our lives in obedience of them and then, when the time comes and they need care, we are to care for them. Are all parents in line with God’s will? No. Obedience is required for everything that pleases God. If the parent is leading the child astray, or the child has no parent, then it is the Congregation’s responsibility to raise that child in the ways of the Lord.
Without Understanding: A lack of understanding does not merely mean a lack of education or knowledge. God’s understanding is not man’s. To understand God’s role in the universe and in your life means that you see beyond the temporal and physical world we live in. This understanding is that we are more than what we appear to be. To live your life based on the physical and believing that once you die, everything ends, is contrary to the thought and purpose of God and thus focused on the self. God sees us for more than just our physical form. He sees our souls and minds and desires them more than anything in the universe. God does not live a linear lifespan and neither do we. Yes, our physical bodies die and decompose but our life force is eternal and lives forever. This is why what we do in this life here on earth matters for all of eternity.
Disloyal: This is not merely the lack of loyalty rather going against the requirement of loyalty. A soldier has the duty and obligation to be loyal to his superiors. Similarly, human beings have a duty and obligation to be loyal to God. Those who choose to go against this obligation are, by definition, disloyal to God and loyal only to themselves.
Without Affection: A lack of affection toward others places the self above and before all others. One may have affection toward ones parents, children, spouse and family but what about the affection toward our fellow man. If we truly loved and had affection for our fellow men and women, we would not do anything that would be hurtful to them. There would be no lies, deceit, violence, wars, theft, slander, gossip, disobedience, malice, rudeness, greed, injustice, or murder. One part of the greatest commandment is that we should love our neighbors as ourselves. This is the affection we must have, not just toward those we know and are related to but to all people regardless of race, religion, size, or type.
Without Mercy: To demonstrate mercy toward someone means that you do something good for them regardless of whether they deserve it or not. The very essence of God is mercy. Romans 5:8 states: “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Just as God shows and has shown mercy to you, so should you show and have mercy on others. If someone is in real need, assist them in any way you can. A lack of mercy, on the other hand, demonstrates contempt for anyone but the self.
These evils exist and persist in the world because of humanity’s decision to turn from God and follow only the will of the self. It is because of selfishness that God has permitted all of this to happen and to continue. But there is a way for this to end. God has provided a way for you to destroy the self and eliminate selfishness. God sent His Son, Jesus Christ to demonstrate that this could be done. He told us to follow him and that we are to be in him as he is in the Father. He taught us that we are to imitate him and that if we did we would be one with him just as he is one with the Father.
But it all begins with one decision. The decision to stop living your life the way you are doing it now and to do it His way. This is the decision we are all presented with at one moment or another and it is up to us to choose to follow Christ or to follow ourselves. We already know what following our self produces. Stop. Think about your life and the selfishness you live with everyday. Decide to turn from this way of life and to follow Christ and be like him. This is the moment of new birth; when you begin a new life in Christ and it is strictly your choice. God has provided the choice because of His grace and mercy. It is up to you to either accept or reject it.