Every year I keep track of the books I start and finish. At the end of the year I like to ‘rank’ my favorite/top 10 books I read that year. In 2015, without question, the book Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate by Jerry Bridges will be very high on my list.
Every once in a while you read a book that challenges you in many ways. I am a learner and love to read, so when I read a great book, I want to tell the whole world to read it as well. I don’t use these words lightly: Respectable Sins is one of those books I would recommend every follower of Christ read. If you don’t think you need to read it, it’s probably a stronger case for why you should read it.
As Bridges says in the preface, “This book, as the title announces, is about sin – not the obvious sins of our culture but the subtle sins of believers…. We have lost sight of the need to deal with our own more “refined” or subtle sins.” In other words, often as followers of Christ, we will walk through the big, gross sins like adultery, addictions and pornography, but we tend to overlook and gloss over the more subtle, respectable, sins. Our sin affects our lives like a cancer and we need to better understand how ALL sin affects our relationship with God.
The flip side of this is that we often celebrate victory over the ‘bigger’ sins, and brush right over victory with the ‘lesser’ sins. For some reason, we think we should celebrate victory over adultery but not victory over gossip or discontentment. In this book, Bridges leads the reader through a biblical exposition of some of the more respectable sins in our lives and how to address them and celebrate victory over them.
Bridges says, “we are often blind to the more subtle sins we tolerate in our own lives – those I call “respectable” sins.” This is exactly the problem Bridges identifies – we might be strong at fighting the more obvious sins, but we are often blind to the more subtle sins. Before addressing some of the more respectable sins, Bridges shares some thoughts on dealing with our sins. He challenges the reader to address all sin struggles in light of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The book devotes chapters to many of these respectable sins, such as unthankfulness, anxiety, discontentment, pride, selfishness, anger, judgmentalism, worldliness (i.e. our/my obsession with college sports) and much more. I can’t think of a chapter that didn’t challenge me. Bridges does a good job of relating to the reader by sharing his own struggle with respectable sins and rebukes the reader with gentleness.
Without question I could write a blog post on each of these sins and how they affect our marriage and parenting. I won’t do that since I think you should read the book, but I will share a few highlights below.
- Bridges shares about the sin of ungodliness. He says this is the root of all other sins, because it basically means we live our lives without acknowledging the existence of God or considering Him in anything we do. In one of my top three or four favorite previous posts on this site, I wrote about how ungodliness affects our marriages.
- He discusses 4 different types of pride that are special temptations to believers: the pride of moral self-righteousness, the pride of correct doctrine, the pride of achievement and the pride of an independent spirit. This chapter was a butt-kicking. We can see often see pride in others but rarely see it in ourselves.
- Maybe the most convicting chapter for me was the one about the sin of selfishness. He addresses four areas of selfishness seen in believers. We tend to be selfish in our interests, time, money/possessions and inconsiderateness. Like pride, we know when others are selfish, but choose to rarely spot it in our own lives.
I recommend this book for all followers of Jesus. If you want to grow in your relationship with Jesus, by addressing the more subtle, yet equally deadly, sins in your life, then read Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges. Read on your own, with your spouse, with some friends and/or with your community group.
One last thought… If you identify some struggles in your life, whether a more subtle sin likes the ones in Respectable Sins, or one of the more commonly addressed sins such as addiction and pornography, please don’t isolate. Open up to others and check out the ministry re:generation recovery. I am thankful for this ministry and for the ways the Lord used Watermark’s recovery ministry to help me walk through all of my sin struggles in life.