During the chaos of the decline of the Roman Empire, a radical movement of men and women emerged in the deserts of Egypt and Syria. They were drawn to an alternative society, a God-centered way of life. These monks were the forerunners of what became a widespread monastic movement, enduring to this day.
John Cassian, a monk himself, became a leading interpreter of this movement in his day, around the turn of the 5th century. He recorded and provided commentary on the desert wisdom of the devout souls he encountered. These doctors of the soul spoke of several common vices, sins that tend to rule the hearts of men and women everywhere. Cassian identified eight, which were later narrowed to seven, and are now popularly known as the Seven Deadly Sins.
Several weeks from now, I will begin a sermon series on the Seven Deadly Sins. The goal is not to become experts on our sins, but to overcome them, to “press on for the goal of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” We will look at each of these sins, but we’ll also look at virtue, and how to cultivate it. We will look at what scripture has to say about idols and idolatry, which is at the root of our deadly sins. I have been greatly encouraged, at a personal level, as I’ve been studying and reflecting on these themes, in preparation for the series.
I leave you with a quote from John Cassian’s Conferences, “To cling always to God, and to the things of God–this must be our major effort, this must be the road that the heart follows unswervingly. Any diversion, however impressive, must be regarded as secondary, low-grade, and certainly dangerous.”
Clinging with you to God, and the things of God,