Spiritual Life of the Leader - Lesson 13

The Eight Deadly Sins, Question and Answer

Is there a sin that's not deadly? To what extent can you worry about something before it becomes a sin? What does it take to overcome gluttony? The minute you make an exception for yourself, you either presume on the grace of God or break a known law of God. Admit what you are feeling and submit it to God to have faith in him in the situation, then do your part.

Stephen Martyn
Spiritual Life of the Leader
Lesson 13
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The Eight Deadly Sins, Question and Answer

The Eight Deadly Sins: Question and Answer

I. Is there a sin that's not deadly?

II. To what extent can you worry about something before it becomes a sin?

III. Overcoming gluttony

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Class Resources
  • Dr. Martyn has surveyed church leaders around the world to understand their responsibilities and pressures. He aims to use his experience to help them develop a model of ministry that encourages spiritual formation, discipleship, and worship in a healthy way. His class is comprehensive on topics such as spiritual formation, discipleship, leadership principles, and worship. Listening to this class could benefit anyone regardless of whether they have an official leadership position or not.
  • Christian activism is Christians seeking to be involved in the issues and needs of the day and time. Wesleyans in the 1700's in England sought to minister to people that others didn’t care about. To be called by Christ is to be called into the body of Christ. A biblical model is that every member is a full-fledged minister of the gospel without distinction between clergy and laity. 

  • Mysticism can be described as the direct communication of your spirit with the Divine Spirit as taught and illustrated in the New Testament as a fundamental part of Christian belief. Receptivity means that I am open to what the Lord is saying to me through the revelation of his word, the magnificence of his son and the voice of his Spirit which is consistent with the written word. The church was emphasizing what they were doing for God rather than on first listening to what God wants us to be and then acting. Union with our Lord must come before any type of donation or work (kenosis) for our Lord. (Download the complete text of the sermon by clicking on the link on this page or under the Downloads heading on the class page.)

  • Which do you love more, the Lord or the projects you are doing for him? Is your goal to exalt the Lord or build a personal kingdom? Essence of anxiety is whether or not you can trust God. The question to ask when you begin having feelings of self-pity is, “Is you life going to be defined by how you think it ought to go?”  The blame-shame mindset is that you are unhappy because there is something wrong with the people around you. When you experience these red flags in your ministry, you should recognize it as time that it’s possible that the Lord may be prompting you to make a change in your life.The Mary in you must rest at the feet of Jesus if the Martha in you is to do her work.

  • Essence is who the Lord has created you to be. Biblically, essence precedes existence as oppose to Sartre's teaching that man is no more than what he makes of himself. God has given us the capacity of reception, to be able to hear God’s voice and follow it. The spiritual life that God calls you to live is based on what you receive from God, not on what you do for God.

  • How do you determine if your motives are right in your efforts to serve God? The more gifts and talents we have, the more susceptible we are to self-deception regarding our motives. Resist the urge to make pleasing people your primary motivation. You will never please everyone and in the process you lose sight of focusing on pleasing God. When people have expectations of you that don’t match what God has called you to do, there are times when you must, “let Lazarus die.”

  • God wants us to be faithful to the kingdom and his son and fruitful according to his metrics. What’s the goal and what condition do our hearts need to be in to understand the goal? The Mary in us needs to rest at the feet of Jesus in order for the Martha in us to do her work. Think about when you experienced renewal and think about when you were blessed. When you have received God’s blessing, how has that resulted in demonstrating his hand of mercy to someone else? How are your activities balanced?

  • A canal simultaneously pours out what it receives. A reservoir waits till it’s filled then discharges water without loss to itself. Today, there are many in God’s church that act like canals. The reservoirs are far too rare. So urgent is the charity of those through whom heavenly doctrine flows that they want to pour it forth to us before they have been filled. They are more ready to speak than to listen, impatient to teach what they have not grasped, and full of presumption to govern others while they know not how to govern themselves. High mountain lakes have one stream out and water level relatively constant throughout the year. How is the water level staying constant in your life? Depletion results in erosion of presence, and results in just going through the motions. 

  • The Lord desires that we live dispositionally. Important elements include loving God, living devotionally, relational strengthening, vocational serving (listening with the intent of following what I hear). Dallas Willard wrote, “If I am a disciple of Jesus, I am with him to learn from him, how to be like him." The primary calling of a pastor is to follow Jesus, within the calling of leading a church. 

  • The eight deadly sins are in the order that Satan uses to try to get us and in the order in which we need redemption. Gormandize means you are overdoing it and being a slave to flesh. Fornication refers to a wandering heart and seeking to devour others. Avarice is the love of money and sometimes is a fear of not having enough. Anger is a rancorous spirit. The spiritual cancer of depreciation is looking at the vast horizon of God’s goodness in his creation and my life and depreciating it, only seeing what’s wrong. Psalm 51:10-12, create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a right spirit within me.

  • When you experience a difficult situation, how do you begin to turn your focus away from the negative and on to what God is doing? How do you respond when you are working closely with people that don't like you? What do you do as a leader when there is a person that is angry with you and disagrees with how you are leading?

  • The sin of acedia is, “I don’t care anymore.” The sin of tristitia is sadness, wrongly processing suffering and loss, allowing the soul to close in on itself and refuse instruction from God. Tristitia is neither a result of other people or of our outward circumstances. Satan wants to get us off the track in stupid presumption or in sinful carelessnenss. God redeems the hurt that evil has done.

  • In the early church passion was seen as something that controlled you and out of control and leading you astray, not a positive motivation. John Cassion described vainglory as passion to take pleasure in our own qualities. The danger is that we take credit for what God is doing. In pursuit of being popular, we often sacrifice who we are at the core. Pride is the original vice from which all others spring. Pride can develop into functioning atheism. The cure for pride is to have the humility of Jesus in our heart. 

  • Is there a sin that's not deadly? To what extent can you worry about something before it becomes a sin? What does it take to overcome gluttony? The minute you make an exception for yourself, you either presume on the grace of God or break a known law of God. Admit what you are feeling and submit it to God to have faith in him in the situation, then do your part.

  • Instead of gluttony, we see temperance. Temperance means living a balanced life. Chaste love is extending love to others, not preying on them. Poverty of spirit rather than greed. Cultivate meekness to deal with anger. You have been forgiven much so you should be willing to forgive others much. Cultivate faith, hope and love to deal with hopelessness. Cultivate humility to deal with vainglory. Evangelism in the first 300 years a result of the quality of the lives of disciples as they lived in a hostile environment. 

  • A transcendent crisis is yearning for the “more than.” “Is life meaningful?” “Is God good?” Can I trust my life to God or have I been abandoned by God? An idolatry crisis happens when you run after a passion rather than pursue God. Each person in your sphere of influence is going through crises in their own lives. God can use a crisis to help something in us die so we can experience and share the light of Christ.

  • To feed the 5,000, the disciples had to rely on Jesus because they didn’t have the resources. Jesus walked out on the water to comfort the disciples with his presence. The disciples thought they were going to die a terrible death. If you choose to think your situation, the church and others are hopeless, it results in ego desperation, or hopelessness. You see what’s wrong, you think you have exhausted your resources and you see no way that it’s going to get fixed. If you allow the crisis to take you into the life of Christ and dependence on him, it will not destroy you. 

  • It's important for us to understand how our relationship with God is affected by being born at a certain period of time and in a certain society. The vital is the physical dimension of the human life. Vitalism is where your physical pleasures become the priority in your life.  Functional is the roles, tasks and responsibilities we take on. It’s a problem when we allow our roles and responsibilities to define us, which is functionalism. Transcendent is the longing for the “more than.” Pneumatic/Ecclesial level is the capacity the Lord has given each of us to hear and respond to the Holy Spirit, God’s voice. When ambition gets separated from the leading of the Spirit, it can become self-promotion. Functional Transcendence is you using the things of God for self-gain.

  • It's important to keep Christ at the center of who you are. Interiority includes memory, intellect, will. Augustine says will is most important.In addition to our personal thoughts, we exist in community with others who are submitting their lives to the will of Christ. The Lord has placed us in a certain place and time and wants you to live a life of obedience in that context every day, not just one day a week. The Father is seeking to form your life into the image of Christ as you were meant to be. Through our experiences, God forms you into a unique person. On the relational side, this results in compassion for others because we love others with the same love we experienced. God gives us confidence that he has given us the gifts and resources we need to live out the calling he has given us. Competence that our ministry will be effective. Our courage comes from trusting in the strength of the Lord. Community, the work of God’s Church is a work done with others. Confirmation comes internally from God and externally from the community of faith. 

  • If you are following Jesus, you have a role as a leader. If a spiritual leader does not understand what their task is according to scripture, then their spiritual life is not going to have the focus the Lord wants them to have.  Worship is a response of the love that has been shown to us. Worship involves our all aspects of us and is enabled by God’s Spirit. We worship God because of who he is. By looking at Jesus, you see who God is.

  • The Church needs you to present what Scripture says, not your own ideas. Worship means to kneel before someone out of respect or honor. We owe it to God as an act of service to sit at his feet and worship him. Spiritual worship is to place our physical bodies at God’s disposal. Are we leading people to worship God, or just providing religious goods and services to them? Solid biblical teaching is important. Structure follows purpose. We are failing to dig down into the revelation of God and let the revelation of God set the compass. If you are not careful, your program sets your agenda.

  • Movements in worship: 1. kneeling in acts of loving worship. Kneeling in submission before God to acknowledge that you are dependent on him. 2. Exalting God by declaring his worthiness 3. Receiving God’s life symbolized by the sacrament of communion. 4. Empowers us and encourages us to go out and serve. We participate in the fellowship and life of the Trinity. We need to immerse ourselves in relationship to God and let that inform and empower what we do so that our worship service is more than creating an experience or transmitting information. Be explicit about your purpose in worship and include prayer.

  • The elders fall before the throne, they worship the Lord and they cast their crowns before him. Falling before the throne represents an acknowledging of God as absolute deity. What is going to happen in the future tells us what we should be doing now. When we fall down before the throne, our heart condition is inward humility and submission to the Lord. Then they raise up and exalt the Lord by proclaiming his worth. Inward love results in proclaiming what is right, good, just and holy. Taking of crowns is an outward expression of placing everything we have under the Lordship of Christ and an inward movement of total abandonment of everything we are to God.

  • The call of Jesus to, “follow me” is the call to redirect everything in our lives. A disciple is one who seeks to fulfill the will of the father by actively following Jesus the Son while continually depending on the Holy Spirit for guidance and strength. Faith is my trust in Jesus as well as the content of the Gospel. Practice is putting it into play. Catechism is the content of the faith, and catechesis is how you express it. Cheap grace is not biblical because it allows for justification without ensuing discipleship. Primary purposes of the church are to proclaim the Gospel, worship and make disciples. In addition to knowing the content, you must live it out. Clergy need to learn how to make and train disciples. Laity must be fully committed full-time ministers of the body of Christ.

  • Movements that are necessary for the church today to fulfill what God is calling them to do. For the clergy, 1. moving from pastor as the primary minister to each believer fulfilling their calling as full-time ministers in their spheres of influence; 2. Moving from preaching only to not only appropriate sermon preparation time but also discipling a core group; 3. Moving from a priority on numbers to staying with a process that results in mature disciples; 4. From solo leadership to team leadership. Discipleship should not be optional. Old Christendom model is breaking down but confusion on who and what we are called to be. “Is my first aim to make disciples, or do I just run an operation?” For the laity, 1. From going to church to being Church; 2. From expecting benefits from Christianity requiring no sustained effort to being intent on being disciples; 3. From being passive observers to full-time ministers. Primary purpose of leader is to equip the people of God to do the work of God.

  • The sermon is a critical part of the discipleship process. The “through” movement is the process of the “from-to” movement. Each of these steps must be contextualized to your situation. We are aiming for maturity in Christ. As a leader, you love the whole but you only disciple the few. Don’t neglect public proclamation but don’t see that as the end of your ministry. Daily pray, read scripture, weekly services, small groups acts of service, fasting, giving. Discipleship is helping people integrate the word of God into their lives.

  • Tozer says we don’t have the right of choosing Jesus as Savior and postponing our obedience. Dispositions are something that’s part of your daily life. Christian disciplines help us to love God and love our neighbor. Encourage people to seek God’s direction for where he wants them to serve. The biblical model is that mature Christians will live as disciplined followers. Make it a goal for pure love to fill your heart and govern your words and actions.

What do you think the priorities should be for a leader in the Church? How do you cultivate your personal spiritual life in a way that keeps you emotionally healthy and helps you avoid choosing sin? What is your measure of success for your church? How does that compare with a biblical measure of success? What is a disciple? What should the process of discipleship look like? What principles can you learn from the way Jesus interacted with his followers that will help you to encourage spiritual formation of the people in your sphere of influence? What are sins that people in leadership have commonly struggled with over the past 2,000 years? How do you recognize them in your own life and what are some practical ways to avoid them or repent and recover from them? What is the essence of worship? How do you live your life so you are worshipping God authentically in everything you do? How do you lead worship in a group setting in a way that encourages others to worship authentically? 

These are a few of the questions that Dr. Martyn poses to begin a conversation regarding the subject of the spiritual life of the leader. As a pastor for more than 20 years, Dr. Martyn asked and answered these questions in the context of loving and serving people personally. As part of his current position of teaching future pastors at Asbury seminary, he and some of his colleagues have conducted extensive surveys of church leaders throughout the North America and the world to get a better understanding of the responsibilities and pressures that church leaders face every day. His goal is to be able to understand biblical principles and use his experience to help leaders develop a model of ministry that helps them develop their personal spiritual life and give them a model to disciple and encourage the people they work with in a way that is healthy and encourages their faith and practice. 

Whether you have an official leadership position or not, you will benefit from listening to this class. It is one of the most comprehensive classes on spiritual formation, discipleship, leadership principles and worship that you will ever hear. If you listen and reflect on each of the lectures from beginning to end, you will be glad you did. 

Dr. Stephen Martyn
Spiritual Life of a Leader
The Eight Deadly Sins, Question and Answer
Lesson Transcript


[00:00:00] Okay. So it's really important once again, to integrate this stuff. You know, it's how many sermons have your people heard if they're made thousands of sermons, the real issues, how many of the sermons messages have integrated into their hearts and sometimes questions and and coming back and forth can really help us do that. So questions now about deadly sins coming out of it, Twisted hysteria, acedia. Anyway, where are we? Okay. My first question is, is is there any sin that's not deadly? Oh, okay. I'm sorry. That was just a joke. No, wait a minute. Wait a minute. Can we can we jump on it? Sure. I mean, what's the cure? What's the popular thought here? I mean, go ahead and come back. I mean, what's the popular thought? Even little lies. Oh, hold the microphone. So, of course, there's little white lies and plenty of small sins. Yeah. So here's the deal. The early church was, you know, over and over, you'll read this the minute you make an exception for yourself, That's when you're going to either fall off the right into stupid presumption or off to the where you presume upon the grace of God, you know, throw yourself from the temple, He'll take care of you or you fall off to the left where you broke a known law of God. So is there anything but a deadly sin? And they're all deadly. That's why Christ had to die. Yeah, Go ahead. Give. Thank you. My other question, a more serious question was about the whole notion of acedia. You hear people I have heard people address and say the sin of worry or it is a word is a sin to worry. And I'm worried about that. Well, of course, you know, you talked about acedia in a way that I think is enough on distant from the center, that I think it's easier to say, well, that's not my problem.


[00:02:09] But every day worries I think are and so let's let's want to comment on that. Yeah, I use a tool quite I have a tool in my office that that I love. It's this tool called inner linear for the rest of us. So. Okay, so I'm making this huge confession. Yes. I'm a seminary professor that uses an inter linear. Okay, so get over it. It's just how it is. I am not fluent in Greek and I've got to have help with Greek. So I thank the Lord for this man, William Mounts. And I'm going to try and find Philippians those seasons. Philippians Hello Galatians of Ephesians. Tell over, learn that song Matthew, Mark, Luke and John acts in the letter to the Romans. You know, that's all goes through my mind here. Okay, let's see if I can find it. So. Oh, what is worry? You know, in some sense, one of my friends defines worry like this. Worry is praying to yourself. I attribute that to my friend, my fellow colleague. That's is very similar. Michael voice. He's a medieval expert. Anyway. Praying to yourself. So this this word here, Philippians four four. I bet many, many, many of you know this by memory. Rejoice in the Lord. How often? Always. I will say it again. Rejoice. Let your gentleness be evident to all. Why the Lord is near. Oh, close by, on the verge of right bias. Then I'm going to make sure our great scholar is here because I'm having a little hard time seeing all the fine print. But it's it's imperative command at this point. So looking at our Greek scholar in my okay, the Greek scholar says yes, do not be anxious about anything as haughty. Saying is what Paul said.


[00:04:34] Do not be anxious about anything. But in everything, by prayer and petition with Thanksgiving, present your request to God. Now, let's just take a little break there. Yeah. Is there any day that you have that maybe some little worry or some little concern doesn't pop up Sometimes in the background, there's huge, big worries, anxieties, you know, like dark, huge, terrible storm clouds, fearing what's coming, fearing what's brewing. Sometimes there's just little concerns, little anxieties. All right. I think what I see from the best of our tradition right here, all this business of anxiety and worry is that we want to take what did we just hear? We want to take every thought captive for Christ. Right now, if the word identifies my worry as something that is not in accordance with God's will, then I've got to submit that. So for me, it begins by me. Okay, Lord, I've got a worry here. I've got a concern even even coming out here. You know, there's been a season in my life where I have flown on airplanes so much and I've been in obedience. I've been in some violent, violent turbulence, some of the worse been over the Northern Atlantic Ocean. Oh, my gosh. And I've been in airplanes where the English screamed, you know, when when John Wesley was coming over on a little boat, both coming and going, they got into storms that Wesley talked about to America from England, talked about how the English screamed. And I've been on airplanes when the English screamed, You may have been on airplanes. When the Chinese scream, when Africans grieve, you know, you get shaken up enough and people start screaming. And even on this trip, we hit a little bit of chop in a and boy, some of those past memories came back to me and boom, right there I'm kind of letting a little anxiety in my.


[00:07:05] And then the Lord just said, No, stop it. Stop it. Absolutely. Stop it. That's not what you are called to do, nor who you are called to be. So I'm taking every thought captive. I admit it, Lord Jesus, this is anxiety. I know it's not of your will. I submitted a praying to prayer. Be pleased to God to deliver me the Lord. My case to help me. Then what does the rest of the the word say when we do it, when we do this? And the sweetest, sweet, the sweetest words in the New Testament arena. If you're named Irene, you're named after this arena. And the peace, the peace of God, which transcends or goes beyond all understanding, will guard, will protect your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. So I'm trying to. This business of knowing society, no fear, no anger, no adulterous thoughts, you know, no, no gluttonous thoughts. You just go down the list. And so I got to admit it. Sometimes I have to confess it now. Temptation is not a sin. All right? All of us are tempted. So if it's just a temptation, I admit it's a temptation. If I've given evil thought in my mind the whole time, I'm asking for forgiveness. So I'm bringing it to Christ. Say, Lord, you know, I know this is wrong. I need your help. It may be something. Also, I need to kneel on the cross, something really bad in my own mind or my own thought or thinking. Lord, please nail it on the cross. This. This has got to die. The sin nature's got to die. This is not a view. So anyway, that's a long. Please come back at me. Can forgive me. That's for the long answer.


[00:09:07] Actually. Have a video. Maybe we can even play. So go ahead. I'm sorry. That's all right. Other questions that you would like to bring up to clarify. I just want to make sure I understand correctly. You started saying gluttony. If I if I couldn't overcome that, then the rest would be much harder. Would be much harder. And that's where it starts. That's from the early church. Now, that's that that's not a straight out of scripture. So we need to make those distinctions. That's the wisdom of the tradition. But that's a little bit lower rung the inscription. So I would never fight about it. It's just what they observe. They said, listen, if you can't overcome gluttony, then it's going to make it a whole lot harder to work your way down, especially with adultery. It's going to make it really hard. But it's a great question and thank you. So anyway, good.