The painting of “The Seven Deadly Sins and Four Last Things” confronts believers in many ways. We have noted already the all-seeing eye of God. Related to that is the focal point of God’s vision, that is, the risen Savior.
The risen Savior is the focal point of God’s eye, or the apple of his eye. It is also the central figure of the painting itself. In fact, if one steadies his gaze on the risen Savior, he will have a difficult time seeing the sins which encircle him. Likewise, this is the central truth of the Letter to the Hebrews.
From the outside of the painting inward, Bosch presents to the viewer three reasons not to sin. First, to be afraid of punishment because of sin is good. Better is to see the wounds of Christ for our sins. For it is on account of Christ’s wounds that the believer receives forgiveness of sins. This is the argument of Hebrews 8-10.
The best motivation for not sinning, however, is that we do not have to. Our risen Savior is now our high priest. During the very moment of our temptation we flee to him so that he will deliver us from the temptation. We need not bring a sin offering to the priest after the fact, after it is too late. We boldly enter the Most Holy place and find refuge in the midst of a holy war.
“The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things,” offers much for the believer to contemplate. The painting reinforces the written word. As we contemplate the Letter to the Hebrews and its message for the Christian life, Bosch assists us with something more powerful than a mere visual aid. It strikes our moral imagination, which in turn shapes the way we think about sin, about Jesus Christ, and about our God.