Beginning this week, our discipleship group will go through a Bible study series on the so-called “respectable sins” as taken up by Jerry Bridges (RESPECTABLE SINS: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate). It’s the first book that I read this year, and quite appropriately, it jump-started 2012 for me by bringing to mind much of what I needed to pray for concerning my Christian walk.
This curiously titled work deals with those subtle sins that many of us have come to consider normal, justifiable and inconsequential, or perhaps not even real sins, especially in comparison with the big, obvious, blatant transgressions that we see in others. These include:
- Moral Self-Righteousness
- Independent Spirit
- Lack of self-control
- Impatience, Irritability
- Anger, Resentment, Bitterness, Enmity & Hostility, Grudges
- Judgmentalism, Critical Spirit
- Envy, Jealousy
- Controlling Spirit
- Sins of the Tongue
Does God really expect us to be rid of all these? (Note that the above is not even the exhaustive list; Bridges fleshes each sin out in great detail in his book). What does God say about big versus small sins?
The process of reading this book and revisiting what God’s Word reveals about the nature of sin is such a humbling experience, which convicts, and enlightens, and reminds, and inspires. The whole message is inextricably entwined with what Paul tells us about living and walking by the Spirit and the fruit that it produces versus the works of the flesh. Indeed one cannot truly rid himself of individual sins or develop godly character simply by making a promise not to be jealous or angry anymore, or by endeavoring to be more loving or joyful or faithful. It is the in-dwelling and the continual in-filling of the Spirit that enables one to bear the fruit of Christ-likeness, as broken down by Paul (Galatians 5:16-26). It is the Spirit that enables one to be victorious over the works of the flesh.
Central and prerequisite to all these, of course, is the Gospel of Christ. Paul says, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal 5:24); earlier in Gal 3:13-14, he explains that “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us…so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.” Indeed, apart from Christ, one cannot hope to receive God’s Spirit, and all efforts at goodness is for naught.
Are all these things new and perplexing to you? I invite you to click here for more about what I know for sure to be the greatest gift ever given.