Santa brought me a lot of books. I mean, this is probably my biggest book year ever…my newly assembled bookshelf in my newly redone man cave is getting pretty FULL! This is great for many reasons, but one of them is that it motivates me to finish some of the other books that have been kicking around for a few months in the “half-read” pile.
One of those books is “Respectable Sins”, by Jerry Bridges. I started this book quite a while ago, thought it was great…but somehow never powered thru to the end. Perhaps I was worried I’d be convicted? 🙂
Bridges plows right down the middle of our protected Christian village with a Gospel bulldozer. It’s amazing how we (I) can warp our thoughts and behavior patterns into non-Biblical understandings and yes, that nasty 3 letter word — S-I-N. He calls it for what it really is, and quickly identifies that we have gotten quite good at not doing that ourselves.
The whole idea of sin has virtually disappeared from our culture…and has been softened even within many of our churches, to accommodate modern sensibilities. Indeed, strong biblical words for sin have been excised from our vocabulary. People no longer commit adultery; instead they have an affair. Corporate executives do not steal; they commit fraud.
As we have softened our identification and naming of sin, we have especially softened our view of our sins as Christians, we are experts at pointing out sin in others and especially the world —
but on the whole, we appear to be more concerned with the sins of society than we are with the sins of the saints.
I applauded Bridges later comments that remind us that the
“first priority of the church as a whole is the proclamation of the gospel. Unborn babies do need to be protected, and the biblical standard of marriage does need to be preserved. But above all, people need to be rescued from the power of Satan and brought into the kingdom of God thru Jesus Christ. If we lose sight of the church’s primary calling, then we are in danger of making an idol of our cultural and political initiatives.”
AMEN and AMEN. Thank you for saying that.
This sets up a fantastic opportunity for a steaming hot bowl of the gospel. God’s plan of salvation thru Christ’s perfect work on the cross is where we need to focus.
First and foremost, the gospel is for sinners. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Tim 1:15). Most Christians tend to think of the gospel as applicable only to unbelievers who need to be saved.
AMEN! We all need the gospel EVERYDAY. We need to constantly be inspecting our lives, finding sin, identifying it for what it really is, and applying the gospel truths of Christ’s payment for it and the forgiveness we have, and living a life that is constantly striving to kill sin in our lives. Bridges gives a great summary:
- Apply the gospel
- Depend on the Holy Spirit
- Recognize your responsiblity
- Identify specific respectable sins
- Memorize and apply appropriate scriptures
- Cultivate the practice of prayer
- Involve one or a few other believers with you
…and as for the list of “respectable” sins that I know you are all waiting for…here is a top level list…
- Anxiety and Frustration
- Moral self-righteousness
- Pride of correct doctrine (ow, stop.)
- Pride of achievement
- An independent spirit
- Our interests (ow, that hurts, I said stop)
- Our time (seriously, Bridges…quit it)
- Our money
- Lack of self control
- Eating and drinking
- Personal finances
- TV, hobbies, etc.
- Impatience, irritability (again, ow)
- Weeds of anger (resentment, bitterness, etc.)
- Judgementalism (giant “ow” here)
- Over differing convictions
- Over doctrinal disagreement
- A critical spirit
- Envy, jealousy, and related sins
- Sins of the tongue (gossip, slander, etc.)
- worldliness (…mostly blending in to the world – do we?)
This book was deeply convicting, as you can see by the “ows” above. It was a funny coincidence that I read the chapter on “Impatience and Irritability” the morning I took my family into NYC with about a million other tourists, gawkers and people who have lost all ability to walk without stopping in front of me.
Most of all, I loved that Bridges doesn’t give us a list of “22 Steps to Overcome Respectable Sins and Live Your Best Life Now.” (Dang…does that count under #11 or #13?)
Instead, he applies the GOSPEL to expose these patterns of sinning and warped, unbiblical thinking that we have developed.
Let us fill ourselves up so much with the cross and the gospel that there is no room for sin! (Thank you, Owen…)
As Bridges says in his closing comments:
We need an increased affection for God that will expel from our hearts our affections for the things of this world
May we all seek that today…especially as we get ready to start a new year!