It all started in the garden.

Daniel 4:4–12

I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at rest in my house, and flourishing in my palace. I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts on my bed and the visions of my head troubled me. Therefore I issued a decree to bring in all the wise men of Babylon before me, that they might make known to me the interpretation of the dream. Then the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers came in, and I told them the dream; but they did not make known to me its interpretation. But at last Daniel came before me (his name is Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god; in him is the Spirit of the Holy God), and I told the dream before him, saying: “Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, because I know that the Spirit of the Holy God is in you, and no secret troubles you, explain to me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and its interpretation.

“These were the visions of my head while on my bed:

I was looking, and behold,
A tree in the midst of the earth,
And its height was great.
The tree grew and became strong;
Its height reached to the heavens,
And it could be seen to the ends of all the earth.
Its leaves were lovely,
Its fruit abundant,
And in it was food for all.
The beasts of the field found shade under it,
The birds of the heavens dwelt in its branches,
And all flesh was fed from it.”

Nebuchadnezzar has another nightmare and, sure enough, he’s afraid again. There’s something not right with that. We all have nightmares. People had them back then too. Children waking up from nightmares might need some hugs before they can settle down, but grown-ups should be able to just let them go. Nebuchadnezzar’s fear reflects a sinful insecurity that traces all the way back to Adam’s fall in the garden.

The seven deadly sins are: envy, greed, gluttony, lust, pride, rage, and sloth. They’re traditional—you can’t find them listed in scripture—but they’re worthwhile to consider. One thing that fascinates me about this list is that the sins are more about feelings than actions. This gets to the root of what sin is all about.

Curiously, there has been much debate about adding an eighth deadly sin to the list—despair. Why would despair even be a candidate?

The same way fear can be sinful. It reflects a lack of trust in God.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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