Introduction. In this season of Lent we are exploring the so call seven deadly sins. But to avoid the implication that other sins aren’t deadly we are calling them the seven serious sins. Sloth, what it is and isn’t. How did this sin make the big seven? What’s wrong with a nice nap, or sitting on a beach with a cool drink or looking forward to a day off or a round of golf to relieve the stress of work? All work and no play makes for a dull existence. Of the seven serious sins, this may be the most misunderstood. What it isn’t. Being still in a noisy and chaotic world is not sloth. We need to withdraw and take time to rest and reflect. It’s Biblical to be still and know He is God. Jesus withdrew from busyness. Sabbath is not sloth, it’s also Biblical. God commands us to rest from our work. Sleep is not necessarily sloth. God created us needing to sleep. It’s one of His ways of humbling us and reminding us how dependent we are. It’s necessary so our work can be fruitful. Recreation or play is not sloth. There is a time to play, to laugh, to enjoy God’s good gifts and pleasures in life. Goofing off now and then is not the same as laziness. Retirement is not necessarily sloth. There is a season when our main vocation may be done, and we enter a different season. We can still be useful and productive and glorify God. What it is. Sloth has many faces and goes by many names. Sloth is apathy, indifference, lack of interest, lack of enthusiasm, lack of concern. If sloth had been the original sin, we might all still be in paradise. Our modern mantra for years has been “whatever.” Whatever, don’t care, not my monkeys, not my circus. Now the new whatever is “meh.” Sloth is procrastination. This is the Round Tuit sin, I’ll get around to it. This is the half-way sin, where we give up early, just quite, don’t care anymore. Our half-hearted efforts end with the first sign of difficulty or resistance. Sloth has been called the noon time devil, the early afternoon sin. We have talked about how one sin leads to another which leads to another. King David’s first sin may have been sloth, not doing what he should have been doing. “In the spring of the year, when kings go off to war, David stayed at his palace, and late one lazy afternoon he got off his couch. Sloth led to lust, lust led to anger, anger led to murder, murder led to pride, and pride led to his fall. Desire leads to sin and sin leads to death. Sloth is a dangerous sin.
Of the interpreting and reinterpreting of many prophecies there is no end and our text is no exception. Daniel is right up there with Revelation as holding the attention of those obsessed with prophecy these days. This text is especially important to people who call themselves Dispensationalist. They have particular views about the end times, the role of Israel, the seven years of tribulation, the rapture of the church and the person and work of the anti-Christ. I offered many counter views in our study of Revelation. Someone put this book in my book a few weeks ago which tries to interpret Daniel and Revelation from a Dispensational perspective in the light of current events especially in Israel. In his previous book he predicted that the seven years of tribulation would be from 2010 to 2017. In this new book (written in 2013) he explains he was wrong, that 2017 instead of being the end of the seven years, should be the beginning of the seven years, actually February 11, 2017. This passage of Scripture is acknowledged to be one of the most difficult to understand. It is obscure and does not give up its meaning easily. One commentator called it a dismay swamp. Five hundred years ago John Calvin wrote: “This passage has been variously treated, and so distracted, and almost torn to pieces by the various opinions of interpreters, that it might be considered nearly useless on account of its obscurity. But, in the assurance that no prediction is really in vain, we may hope to understand this prophecy, provided only we are attentive and teachable according to the angel's admonition, and the Prophet's example” (John Calvin, Daniel, p. 195). II Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. In the spirit of John Calvin and II Timothy 3 we will attempt to understand what God has revealed to Daniel and to us.
Creation: God’s good gift. Let’s get clear what the Bible teaches about sex and marriage. Some people perceive Christians and the church to be negative about sex, so I want to begin with a clear positive statement about what God says about sexual love. Before there was lust, meaning before there was sin, there was purity in sexual desire. God created us male and female and called it good, He created marriage and called it good. God created the beautiful and wonderful gift of sexual intimacy and He created men and women to be attracted to each other and to desire relationships with each other. And it was very good. God has given us a precious gift in our sexuality. What do we do with something that is very valuable and very precious? We put it some place where it will be safe and secure, some place where it won’t be damaged or broken or stolen or cheapened. The Mona Lisa is probably the most famous painting in art history. It’s in a secure place in the Louvre in Paris behind an unbreakable glass security shield. Our God-created sexual desire is like a beautiful pearl. For its beauty to shine it must be set in the golden pendent of marriage. When you have something that is very good and valuable, you protect it. God wants the very best for us so He gave us one of His very best gifts and He put it in a context where it would be beautiful and safe and clean and unashamed. But instead our culture takes that pearl and casts it before the swine of fornication, adultery, pornography, incest, child abuse and homosexuality. It cheapens and trivializes it in places like one night stands, affairs, movies, videos, TV, magazines, porn sites on the internet and romance novels. Outside of marriage nakedness and sex becomes abused, polluted, spoiled. All sexual activity outside of marriage cheapens and damages God’s good gift. It would be like taking the Mona Lisa down to the street corner. Many people try to call sex outside of marriage love but it’s not, it’s really stealing, it’s taking. At the most it’s love of self, it’s selfishness, taking what I want for myself. It’s not seeking the best for the other person. Sex outside of marriage says “I want your body, but not you as a person. I don’t want you as a covenant partner, just as an object to satisfy my desires.” That desire without a commitment dishonors the other person. That is lust, not love.
Lent is a penitential season when some Christians take stock of their spiritual lives. Think about how a doctor asks us questions about our diet, what we eat and drink, habits like smoking, caffeine and alcohol intake, do we exercise. We don’t mind him asking too much, it’s a bit personal but we know he is asking because he cares about our health and he is probing to find areas of concern and suggest steps to improve. But what about when the pastor asks about our spiritual health, what if he raised a series of seven serious spiritual concerns, how would we respond to that kind of probing? My desire in our series on seven serious sins is our spiritual health and well-being. We can’t grow in love and faith and fruitfulness when there are obstacles and hurdles in the way. So we are knocking down seven of those this Lent. Are we humble and open to the sanctifying work of the Spirit to open our eyes and expose the iniquity in our hearts. My prayer this Lent is this will be for us a path to forgiveness and freedom and joy.