Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate
Author Jerry Bridges, whose previous bestselling titles TRUSTING GOD and THE PURSUIT OF HOLINESS gave Christian sojourners a wonderful resource for wrestling through some of life's toughest questions, now offers readers a text custom-made for today's sin-mollified believer. Bridges tells fellow Christ followers that there is a cancerous tumor growing unrestrained amongst and within many of the churches nationwide. He believes that evangelicals are quite adept at finger-pointing and clucking their tongues at "major" sins such as murder, adultery, stealing and the like while simultaneously ignoring (and often cuddling up with) "minor" sins like pride, anger, discontentment, unthankfulness, selfishness, impatience and judgmentalism.
Bridges writes that a curious misnomer amongst modern believers is that Christians frequently assume that the gospel is only for unbelievers, thinking that once a person trusts Christ for salvation, the gospel becomes a mute point. Nothing could be further from the truth, says Bridges, for the gospel (and its power) is what enables Christians to deal with the ongoing battle with sin in their lives. Expounding upon this premise, he spends his first six chapters building the theological groundwork for dealing biblically with those "respectable sins" so widely accepted in churches today.
With a thoughtful, careful approach for which he is so well known, Bridges discusses society's tendency to "erase" the term sin from its vocabulary, thus minimizing its disastrous effects upon individuals and cultures alike. Rather than view the sins (as plainly depicted in the Bible) of impatience, pride, resentment, frustration and self-pity as a "diabolical force" that will eventually, if allowed to metastasize, kill its host, the church turns a blind eye towards them.
To up the ante, Bridges informs Christians that God's simple view of sin is not to tolerate it. Once a believer, a person is forgiven. Still, to actively choose to sin --- large or small --- is to "despise" God. The author cites the famous story of Nathan confronting David after his adultery with Bathsheba and subsequently ordering the murder of her husband, Uriah, in order to cover up his sin. In this 2 Samuel passage, Nathan blasts David with the truth that he has "despised" God by his actions. In like manner, Christians today try to covertly cover up, excuse, or deny the existence of those "respectable sins" for which God hardily condemns and will discipline.
After letting the hammerhead fall, Bridges's text turns a decisively positive and practical corner as he discusses the Holy Spirit's work in a believer's life, reminding Christians that they are both responsible and dependent. Writes Bridges: "[W]e live under the controlling influence of the Spirit as we continually expose our minds to seek and to obey the Spirit's moral will for us as revealed in Scripture. We live in dependence on Him through prayer as we continually cry out to Him for His power to enable us to obey His will." Readers will then glean the practical steps to dismantling those "respectable sins" by:
* Applying the gospel
* Depending upon the Holy Spirit
* Taking personal responsibility
* Identifying specific sins
* Memorizing/applying Scriptures
* Cultivating an active prayer life
* Welcoming accountability with other believers
Christians committed to honoring God in every area of their life will find Bridges's new work both enriching and robust, with timeless and accurate biblical truth.
Reviewed by Michele Howe on August 21, 2007