Respectable Sins written by Jerry Bridges is a book that I have finally gotten to in my reading list. Published in 2007, this is certainly not hot-off-the-press. But is it is an excellent, and revealing (or should I say convicting) book that will perhaps go on to be as significant a seller as Bridges’ million plus selling book The Pursuit of Holiness.
Bridges’ basic premise in the book is that Christians have been so focused on drawing attention to the highly visible sins of the world and society in general, that we have lost sight of our own more “refined,” “subtle,” “acceptable,” or “respectable” sins. More to the point, he suggests that we not only overlook our more subtle sins, we actually tolerate their presence in our lives. In an appropriately convicting observation, the author asks the reader “shall we presume upon God’s grace by tolerating in ourselves the very sin that nailed Christ to the cross?”
The solution to dealing with our respectable sins, is the gospel. Bridges notes that “the gospel is a vital gift from God not only for our salvation but also to enable us to deal with the ongoing activity of sin in our lives.”
The respectable sins that are discussed in the book are: ungodliness; anxiety and frustration; discontentment; unthankfulness; pride; selfishness; lack of self-control; impatience and irritability; anger; weeds of anger (these are sins that stem from unresolved anger); judgmentalism; envy and jealousy; sins of the tongue; and worldliness.
In spite of its uncomfortable subject matter, I actually found the book to be enjoyable to read. Obviously not based on the revealing of the tolerated sin in my life, but because Bridges addresses the topics with a straightforward gentleness that allows the reader to relax and simply contemplate the personal implications. The chapters are of such a length that I did not reach a level of saturation, or fatigue with the belaboring of a point. Bridges makes his case for each of the sins succinctly but with clarity. Of course, I will give credit to the Holy Spirit for His assistance in illuminating the subject. As the author notes, the Holy Spirit combined with the gospel is ultimately our hope for identifying and eradicating our respectable sins. We are to be encouraged because the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, empowers us to deal with our sins, and encourages us, as His indwelling presence is the assurance that we have been forgiven of all of our sins and our unrighteousness. Appropriating and acting upon this reality should give us the encouragement to deal with our respectable sins. The progressing of our sanctification depends on it.
This is an excellent book and well worth the time to read it. But, be prepared to be convicted!