Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Book Notes: Respectable Sins

Another book I read on my study-break was Jerry Bridges newest work called Respectable Sins. Bridges wrote his most recent book in response to what he discerns to be the troubling pattern of the evangelical church becoming so preoccupied with gross, immoral sin in our culture, that we fail to honestly and deliberately deal with the “small” sins in our own lives and hearts. This book is written to call the church of Jesus Christ to live like the saints we are in Christ, especially in the areas where we tend to give ourselves and others in the church a pass.

Bridges argues that the reason we create a class of sins that are acceptable to us in the Christian church is because we use comparative holiness as our standard (and so see ourselves as not as bad as the culture at large), because we don’t realize that even our acceptable sins can create devastation in our lives, and because we do not see all sin as rebellion against God, but only about poor personal choices.

Here is the list of respectable sins that Bridges addresses in this book, his definition of each one, and some of his thoughts on dealing with each one. I personally was most convicted by my failure in the area of impatience, irritability, and envy. I am prayerfully repenting of these traits in my life.

· Ungodliness – living life each moment of each day without consideration of God, the root of all other sin-areas, because a conscious recognition of God would keep us from many other sins. What areas do we live without regard for God or His ways?

· Anxiety & Frustration – the opposite of trusting in God, this sin demonstrates that I do not trust God or His ability to care for me or others. Frustration involves being upset or angry at whatever or whoever is blocking our plans. What is God doing?

· Discontentment – unhappiness from circumstances or situations that are beyond my control which can quickly lead to bitterness or resentment toward others. We must move beyond resignation of our circumstances to acceptance.

· Unthankfulness – not recognizing God as the source of every gift in life, especially the awesome gift of our eternal salvation and new life. Failure to regularly give thanks to God is sinful – we are commanded to give thanks in all circumstances.

· Pride – specifically manifests itself in believers as self-righteousness (especially in those of us who teach others), arrogance of a doctrinal system, the pride of achieving (failure to recognize God as source), an independent spirit (not teachable, submissive)

· Selfishness – being self-focused (rather than others-focused) in our interests, in our use of time, in our use of money; these result with inconsiderateness of others; this is easy to see in others, hard to see in ourselves

· Lack of Self-Control – a governance or prudent control of one’s desires, cravings, impulses, emotions, and passions – saying no when we should say no – moderation in legitimate areas, restraint in sinful areas. We need self-control especially in eating & drinking, our temper, and personal finances, our use of the computer, etc.

· Impatience and Irritability – strong sense of annoyance at the unintentional faults and failures of others, usually expressed verbally to humiliate the other person – irritability describes the frequency of my impatience.

· Anger – strong feeling of displeasure, antagonism that is usually accompanied by sinful emotions, words, or actions that hurt others. Righteous anger focuses on God and is always self-controlled, never causes a loss of temper or retaliation. We need to root out the cause of our anger – usually our pride, selfishness, or desires. We need to especially repent of anger toward God, which accuses God of wrongdoing.

· Anger’s Offspring – anger not dealt with can lead to resentment, to bitterness, even to long-term enmity and hostility toward another person. To stop this process, anger must be turned over to God’s sovereignty, we should pray for love to grow in our hearts toward others, should learn to forgive others as God forgives us. We use the sinful actions of others to justify the sinful anger in our lives.

· Judgmentalism – imposing our convictions on everyone else and implying that our opinions on issues are the truth for everyone – putting myself in the place of God in other people’s lives, can eventually develop into a permanent critical spirit.

· Envy & Jealousy – the painful and oftentimes resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by someone else; tends be focused on those with whom we most closely identify in areas that we value most. Mostly driven by our view of others as rivals, not as brothers or sisters in Christ that we need to support and encourage.

· Sins of the Tongue – any speech that tends to tear down another person – either someone we are talking about or someone we are talking to – is sinful speech – can include lying, slander, critical speech, harsh words, insults, sarcasm, and ridicule.

· Worldliness – being attached to, engrossed in, or preoccupied with the things of this temporal life; this leads us to be worldly in our use of our money (spending according to the world’s standard), worldly in our sexual standards (dress, watch, read, think), worldly in our allegiances (idolatry) to temporal priorities.

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