For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am of the flesh, sold into slavery under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
That’s a pretty great definition for sin, right? “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.” And news flash: the person writing this is literally a saint. So we’re in good company with the Apostle Paul as we consider why we do the bad things we don’t want to be doing in the first place.
Last week I laid out the theology of Jesus and his own suffering as the reason why we engage this spiritual work of self-reflection: it’s for the sake of transformation. A change of heart toward being the people we were inherently created to be. That’s what it is to co-create our redemption stories with Christ. So are we ready?
Now I know I cannot give you all the layers of meaning found in the Enneagram, but I want to pique your interest enough that you decide to check it out. So here are the 9 types (or as Richard Rohr says: the “nine faces of the soul”). Be discerning what number speaks to you most truly about primary motivation:
Type 1 is the need to be perfect.
Type 2 is the need to be needed.
Type 3 is the need to succeed.
Type 4 is the need to be special.
Type 5 is the need to perceive.
Type 6 is the need for security.
Type 7 is the need to avoid pain.
Type 8 is the need to be against.
Type 9 is the need to avoid.
Richard Rohr incorporates “root sins” into his descriptions of each type as well; these are harder to hear- and maybe more important.
One’s go to anger; Two’s fall to pride; Three’s wrestle with vanity; fours struggle with self-pity or envy; for fives its greed; sixes experience fear; sevens gluttony; eights are prone to lust; and nines, well- they’re a little lazy. Hard to hear, right? None of us want to think about these aspects of ourselves, but when we do, we can begin to understand why we act the way we do sometimes.
Discerning our core spirits involves taking a hard look at all the forces that impacted who we developed to be. To add more dimension to this work, we also have “wing types,” always on either side of our numbers. So I’m a two, with a strong three wing. Or at least those are the numbers that make me feel most uncomfortable when I read what Rohr has to say. That’s supposedly the best way to figure out your number. Reading full descriptions of each number, and as Rohr says is his rule of thumb: “ If you don’t sense the whole thing as somehow humiliating, you haven’t yet found your number.”
Another description of the types for you: This time, a look at how Jesus in his ministry on earth, embodies each type’s redeeming qualities:
In Jesus we see Ones possess skills for teaching, tolerance, and patience; we see Twos enact care, compassion, and solidarity; we see threes offer others their ambition, energy, and vision; we see fours evoke creativity, sensitivity, and naturalness; we see fives use healthy distance, sobriety, and wisdom; we see sixes practice fidelity, obedience, and trust; we see sevens share festiveness and joy; we see eights embrace confrontation, clarity, and authority; and finally, we can see in Jesus how nines restore composure, peace, and love.
When the Apostle Paul asks himself who will rescue me from the sin that holds me capture? The answer is the same for him as for us. Jesus, of course. The only person on earth who realized full integration and maturity, even in the midst of being executed.
In other words, we Christians have a pretty great example AND reason to do this discernment that leads to transformation. Jesus already did- and paved a way for us to experience redemption, one glimpse of our true selves at a time. You’ve likely not figured out your type based on this sermon alone- but if these descriptions have gotten your attention, go ahead and do some self-study this week. Remember, you’re in good company when you do. The Apostle Paul’s writings are filled with his own self-reflection for the sake of transformation.
Koller says, “for this spiritual self-work on existence we have been given a tool--the capacity to perceive. The instrument of transformation is not moral reflection on the self, but content-free perception of the self.” This is the gift that Christ offers us on the road to redemption. A way to perceive ourselves as Christ does: with infinite grace.
Don’t let sin shame you for another second. The gospel truly offers us good news: we no longer belong to the sin that leaves us feeling shame. Shame, that inner voice of judgment, often telling us we’re not good enough?” That voice is never Christ’s voice. Christ gave his life so that we might begin to perceive our true selves the way Christ does, filled with the potential for transformation. Amen.
Rev. Emily Munger
delights in connecting sacred texts with everyday life.