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Respectable Sins Hardcover – August 21, 2007
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From the Back Cover
Jerry writes not from a height of spiritual accomplishment but from the trenches of his own battles with sin. In his admonitions, Jerry offers a message of hope in the profound mercy of the gospel and the transforming grace of God as the means to overcoming our subtle sins.
If you lead a small group or Bible class, don't miss the companion discussion guide for this important book. See inside for details.
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The premise of the book is that Christians too often focus solely on the big sins in each other's lives and the culture around us that we don't focus on the sin in our own life. So the book doesn't discuss things like adultery or murder. Instead, it devotes chapters to sins we try to ignore in ourselves like anger, discontentment, unthankfulness, pride, selfishness, judgementalism, and envy.
The first few chapters are an overview of sin and the modern church culture. Jerry Bridges takes aim at how the church has stopped paying attention to these sins and reminds us that all sins are vile in God's eyes. He also reminds us of the importance of repentance and God's grace through sanctification to help us overcome these sins.
Chapter seven of the twenty-one chapter book begins looking at the individuals sins. Many chapters are devoted to just one while some take on related sins. For example, he looks at gossip and slander in the "Sins of the Tongue" chapter.
Since the chapters are about eight to ten pages each, Dr. Bridges never goes too deep. But he does use illustrations, usually from his own life, to show how easy and prevalent this sin can be. He'll then show from scripture how bad it is and offers us some reminders as we live our lives.
Despite the fact that the chapters are short, they really pack a wallop. Most week's we've been going through the book one chapter at a time. While I probably would have read this 180 page book in a few days if it were up to me, this slower pace was good because it allowed me time to really think about what we were reading. Talking about it with others allowed the conviction to truly grow.
And don't think you'll get out of conviction here. Every single chapter hit me in some way. Yes, some were more relevant to my life than others, but in all areas I had to do some soul searching and repentance.
I can imagine how difficult this book would have been to write. None of the chapters gets too deep, and many of the subjects could use their own book. But I feel that Dr. Bridges does a good job of getting his point across in the limited number of pages he has. And if you want to know more about something, you can always research it on your own.
Dr. Bridges even acknowledges that some of the topics addressed, like anxiety, might require greater help than he can provide through one chapter in one book. He assumes that most of his readers are facing normal levels of these sins, but when counseling might be needed, he does mention that in the chapter.
If you pick up Respectable Sins and take it seriously, you won't put it down again the same. Not only does this need to be read by Christians, but it should be reread on a regular basis.
I think this book is very important for Christians today, particularly in the Industrialized West. It's not that Christians from less developed countries don't share these sins, but rather that Bridges addresses them in ways that are particularly applicable to Americans and Europeans.
One reason I give it four instead of five stars is that he sometimes stretches to make a point. Occasionally he points out a valid area of sin, but his personal anecdotes fall a bit short in identifying that sin in himself just to identify himself with his readers.
Another reason for four stars it's that Bridges' overt evangelicalism limits the book's appeal for those outside that part of the spectrum of Christian belief and practice.
I most recently used this book for a small group study and it provided a great springboard for discussion. At the same time, it provided a great motivation for personal introspection and a desire for holiness in the areas he covers.
But we are so quick to point these sins out when we see them and not so quick to notice the pride, the lack of self-control, the bitterness, and the selfishness in our own lives.
In the opening chapters, Jerry Bridges discusses how to identify these sins in our lives and then he gives a step by step process on what to do about it once we are aware of them.
He notes that the root of many of these sins comes from our godlessness, or our practical atheism. We may go to church every week and we may even read a Bible verse here and there, but we often live out the rest of our week as if God wasn't around. We don't pray for guidance during the day, we make other things in our lives a higher priority than our love for Him, and we basically live the same as everyone else.
Then Bridges devotes a chapter for each of the sins he has decided to expose in this book. He mentions the pride that we exhibit when we forget to give God the credit for all the good things that happen in our lives.
He also has a chapter on immorality and idolatry. He points out that we our idolaters whenever we make work or sports or personal goals ahead of our relationship with the Lord.
There is also a chapter on worldliness. When we get so gung ho about high school sports that we get carried away at games, that's worldliness. When we get irate at the referees and instill in our kids that winning at all costs is important, that is also worldliness. He mentions 1 John 2:15-18 as a good scriptural definition for worldliness.
Thee are also chapters on anger and self-control. Bridges even says that when we show a lack of self-control in any area of our lives (like eating too much ice cream), it opens the door and makes us more likely to show a lack of self control in other areas.
This book is another Nav classic, another Jerry Bridges classic. It's a great book to read and I also recommend picking up the study guide.