The Life of a Disciple In The World 1

The Seven Deadly Sins

Session 1: Taking Sin Seriously

Core Teaching: We were created in God’s image but God’s intention for us has been disfigured by sin.  Human nature was created good, but at the deepest levels, it has been marred by Sin.

Session Goals: This session is an introduction to the Seven Deadly Sins.  It focuses on what Sin is, how Christians talk about Sin, and should make clear that ALL people Sin and are considered sinners.           

Supplies: Bibles, Whiteboard/Newsprint, Markers, Masking Tape,

Sunday’s Newspaper, a copy of the Student Leader Help Sheet for each discussion/small group leader.

Memory Verse: Ephesians 2:8 NRSV

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God

(Write on the Board and encourage Youth to memorize this week.)

Scripture: Genesis 3:1-7 NRSV

Psalm 51:1-6 NRSV

(This Psalm is traditionally ascribed to David and is set in the context of his sin with Bathsheba.  2 Samuel 11-12)

Romans 7:18-25 NRSV


Class Session

Opening Prayer- Student

Announcements, Attendance, and Offering- Teacher


Introduction to the Lesson- Teacher

Something is wrong in our world.  Something is very wrong.  And it has been that way for a long, long, long time.  There is a reality that Christians refer to as Sin.  Sin is real.  Sin is part of each one of us.  Christians believe that Sin has been a condition for each of us since our birth.  Long before we commit any specific sin, Sin prepares us to fall short of who God created us to be.

Brainstorm a list of things wrong with the world and write it on the board or on newsprint for all to see. The list might have some of these items: moral decay, lack of freedom, illegal transactions, drunkenness, illegal drugs, pornography, promiscuity, violence, high divorce rates, racism, sexism, nationalism, tyrants, torture, war, the threat of nuclear destruction, bickering, gossip, greed, poverty, corporate scandals, church scandals, political standoffs, individualism, terrorism, and the list could go on.

The idea of listing “Deadly” Sins (often called “Capital” meaning “head” sins) and Capital Virtues is as old as Christianity itself.  It may have developed with the Desert Fathers in Egypt.  The idea of major sins as deadly to a life in Christ developed in these monastic settings.  The main way Christians could live a life “In Christ” was to root out these basic sins and to focus on the basic virtues.  Throughout Christian history it has been recognized that these sins are deeply rooted in our fundamental nature.  While different words and different lists were used at different periods of time, these seven sins are what we now focus on: pride, envy, anger, sloth, greed, lust, and gluttony.  In a few more weeks we will focus on the Cardinal Virtues: wisdom, justice, temperance, courage, faith, hope, and love.


Christians believe that Sin is only overcome by God’s redeeming Grace that comes to us in the sacrificial Love of Jesus Christ.  This Grace gives us the ability to work more cooperatively with God to live out our true callings as God’s children.  Because of God’s grace, we have the power to deal with these basic sins that seem to rule so much of our world.


Today we are going to focus in on the concept of Sin and 3 distinct ways Christians talk and think about Sin.

Small Group Discussions- Student Leaders

Key Questions (These should be answered during the discussion below)

  1. What is Original Sin?
  2. What are Actual Sins?
  3. What are 2 types of Actual Sins?
  4. What is Structural Social Sin?

Big Issue

We were created in God’s image but God’s intention for us has been disfigured by sin.  Human nature was created good, but at the deepest levels, it has been marred by Sin.

“We believe man is fallen from righteousness and, apart from the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, is destitute of holiness and inclined to evil.  Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.  In his own strength, without divine grace, man cannot do good works pleasing and acceptable to God.” United Methodist Book of Discipline, 2000. Page 68.

Faith Link

Original Sin– Read Genesis 3:1-7 to the group.

  • Discuss what is happening in the story.
  • Is everyone familiar with this Scripture?
  • What types of meanings have you heard applied to this Scripture?

q  Since the time of Augustine, Christian have described this as “The Fall” or when the “Original Sin” happened.  The result of this “Fall” by our first parents is that we all have a corrupted nature.  We believe that human beings are the same now as they were back then.

q  Original Sin is an important description of each individual’s condition and need for God.  The first step toward salvation is to understand oneself as a sinner.

q  When persons are baptized, this question is asked: “Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of your sin?” United Methodist Hymnal, page 34.

  • What do you think of this Doctrine of Original Sin?
  • What “proof” of original sin do you see in your life and in the world in general?

Actual Sins– Read Psalm 51:1-6 to the group.

q  You might want to also read 2 Samuel 11-12 that tells of David’s Sin with Bathsheba on which tradition says this Psalm is based.

  • What do you hear being said in this Psalm?
  • Does it surprise you that it is in the Bible?  Why? or why not?

q  From the condition of Original Sin, it is inevitable that human beings will commit actual sins.  These sins take 2 forms: 1) Sins of Omission– an obligatory action was not taken, 2) Sins of Commission– a wrong act was done.  Sins of commission can be inward, relating to thoughts, feelings, tempers, and other actions not observable by others.  They can also be outward, the words and deeds that can be observed.

q  Sin is often more like an act of a traitor than a criminal.  David uses 3 words to describe his treason against God: 1) Transgressions- literally means “rebellion” 2) Iniquity- literally means “twisted or bent” 3) Sin- the original word used here literally means “missing a mark or aim.”

  • What Sins of “Omission” and “Commission” do you think David committed?
  • How is the Sin here like and unlike that in the Genesis story?

Structural Social Sin

q  “Scriptural holiness entails more than personal piety; love of God is always linked with love of neighbor, a passion for justice and renewal in the life of the world.”  United Methodist Book of Discipline 2000, Page 47.

  • What do you make of this statement?

q  “The perils of nuclear destruction, terrorism, war, poverty, violence, and injustice confront us.  Injustices linked to race, gender, class, and age are widespread in our times.  Misuse of natural resources and disregard for the fragile balances in our environment contradict our calling to care for God’s creation.  Secularism pervades high-technology civilizations, hindering human awareness of the spiritual depths of existence.”  United Methodist Book of Discipline 2000, Page 83.

q  These problems are typically not associated with individual actions and are not held as private matters.  A Christian understanding of these problems links them directly to humankind’s violation of God’s laws and our separation from the relationship God intends.

q  Structural Social Sin- is any system or group that works against God’s good intention for humankind or that is destructive of God’s Creation.  The Old Testament Prophets speak against the Structural Social Sin that tramples the poor and forgets about God’s weakest children.  In the New Testament, Jesus addresses Structural Social Sin in the Sermon on the Plain in Luke (Luke 6:20-26).

  • On what Biblical basis would you label Racism or Poverty a “structural social sin?”
  • Who or what is it that does the sinning in these two examples?

Life Application

Read Romans 7:18-25

  • Does this Scripture ring true in your life?  Why? or why not?
  • What is the answer to the problem presented in this Scripture?
  • How will you live out that answer in the coming week?

q  Take the Sunday morning paper and cut out a few articles that give tangibles examples of what has been discussed today.  Post these on the wall with a label above saying “Sin” so they may be referred to in future weeks.  If there is not time for this in class, ask for volunteers to get it done before next week.


Joys and Concerns- Teacher– Write these on a piece of butcher paper.

Closing Prayer- Student

Merciful God,

we confess that we have not loved you with our whole heart.

We have failed to be an obedient church.

We have not done your will,

we have broken your law,

we have rebelled against your love,

we have not loved our neighbors,

and we have not heard the cry of the needy.

Forgive us we pray.

Free us for joyful obedience,

through Jesus Christ our Lord.


(The United Methodist Hymnal, p.8)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *