Q & A with Jared C. Wilson
As a Threads team, we’re thankful to work with the best authors in the world. And we always get excited when we can share those authors with you. So here’s our recent conversation with Jared C. Wilson, author of Seven Daily Sins.
Threads: The “seven deadly sins” are familiar, at least in name, to most people. Why did you call this study Seven Daily Sins?
Jared Wilson: Most Christians understand that they are sinners who “do” sins. But the biblical understanding of sin runs deeper than our behaviors and locates the root of sin in our hearts. What do we desire? What moves us? Where is our trust for provision and satisfaction and happiness placed? The study treats the seven deadly sins as seven daily sins to get at these sins as idolatries, not just behaviors. They are things we carry around with us every day, not just things we do on occasion.
Threads: Are you saying that we’re all guilty of each of these sins? What does that mean for us?
JW: Yes, I am saying we are all guilty of all of these sins, although the study does present diagnostic questions to help us see which one(s) we’re more prone to. Not everybody struggles with lust and gluttony equally. But by locating sin in the heart, not just — so to speak — in the hand, it means we have to address heart issues, not just behavior issues. We have to go to the root of our sin; otherwise we’re just doing behavior management. And only the Spiritual power in the gospel of Jesus can change a heart.
Threads: What do you think is the modern church’s greatest misconception about sin?
JW: I think we have a lot of misconceptions about sin. In different churches and different communities we may get the impression that sin is always “out there,” that it’s something the church can catch from the world like the bird flu or something, when sin is always “in here” too. Or we may get the impression that it’s not worth talking about sin because everybody already knows they’re sinners and reiterating this information just makes them feel too bad—and some preachers actually say that. We can also get the impression that sinful behaviors are cured by good behaviors, and I think that may be the biggest misconception the modern church has about sin. In the olden days of evangelicalism, we preached the ”don’t do x, y, and z” of the Law as the cure for sin. These days we preach the “do x, y, and z” of the Law as the cure for sin (although many times we recast sin as “failures” or “setbacks”). In this latter case we may have become more positive, more inspiring, more upbeat, and more sensitive, but we are just as legalistic because “do” is just the flipside of “don’t” on the Law’s coin. Do’s and don’ts are great, and they’re in the Bible to be followed. But only the gospel’s “done” can overcome our sin.
Threads: Sin is a taboo word to many people. How do you think Christians and the Church should address sin with the world around them?
JW: The word comes with a lot of baggage, but I don’t think the solution is to always gauze it over with something less indicting. The world is broken because of sin, so it’s okay to speak of brokenness. But we have to use the Bible’s language with trust that God’s Word knows what it’s talking about even if it seems out of fashion. But perhaps we can segue into more direct use of the word “sin” by replacing it with a more commonly accepted sin. We might do this by communicating first that Adam’s sin brought sin into the world making us all sinners by saying that Adam’s self-interest brought self-centeredness into the world making us all self-worshipers or self-exalters. Even lost people understand the problem with selfishness. And in that case we are not replacing sin with something that is not sin: we are specifying what kind of sin the original sin was — selfish pride — and that can be a helpful application and introduction to discussing the Bible’s teaching on what sin is, where it came from, and what it does.
Threads: What do you hope people will take away from Seven Daily Sins?
JW: My hope is the same for every thing I publish: that the reader will see Jesus in a glorious way and walk away loving Him more. In the case of Seven Daily Sins I hope they will see with awe the promise He makes to cover and blot out their sin and the hope He holds out to help them repent of their sin and be delivered from it.
Jared C. Wilson is the author of Gospel Wakefulness, as well as articles and essays appearing in numerous publications. He is the pastor of Middletown Church in Middletown Springs, Vermont, where he lives with his wife and two daughters.