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Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate

Note: This is a repost of a series I started last year but did not finish. I am currently teaching this series at my church Sycamore Baptist Church, so I will be reposting the few articles I already wrote along with the new ones that will finish the series.

There are some sins that are subtle, lurking just beneath the surface, deceiving us into thinking they are not sins at all. These sins are common in our culture and our church. We actually have been blinded to their presence in our own lives because they are so common. But these sins are important to deal with because they can affect others around us by metastasizing in their heart as we commit them in their presence. Take for instance gossip, if I am always gossiping around a neighbor, I not only tear down another person, but I serve to corrupt the heart and mind of my listener. Before you know it, they are gossipping as well. My sin has metastasized into their heart.

The sins that are common in our culture and church, that are subtle, lurking beneath the surface and deceiving us, while infecting others around us are what Jerry Bridges calls Respectable Sins, which are sins members in the church overlook [1].

Why Do We Overlook These Sins?

One reason we turn a blind eye to common sins in our church, is because those outside the church are committing sins much more heinous than we. They are killing babies, committing acts of homosexuality, and exploiting the poor among other things. So we think: “We are not doing those things, so we must be doing alright. We do not have any sins to deal with, but we sure need to help those outside the church deal with their sin.”

A second reason we turn a blind eye to common sins in our church is because we do not realize God has called us to be holy, to live as saints (1 Corinthians 1:2) and shine as lights in a corrupt world (Matthew 5:16). Since we do not think of ourselves as saints, we see no reason to try and act like one [2].

The Gospel

Before we go on to look at the different sins we as a church commit, but are unaware or blinded to, I would like to offer us hope. It comes in the form of the gospel. As we begin to work through these sins over the next couple of weeks, I would like us to remember the gospel and what it has done for us. It has saved us from sin and freed us from the reign of sin in our lives. We no longer are enemies of God, but children of God. As such, sin does not have the right to reign in our bodies. It no longer has dominion over us as it used to do. Whereas before salvation we could not help but sin, now we have the ability to resist sin.

So as we move in the next couple of weeks to deal with these “Respectable Sins” remember the gospel has given us the power to face sin, to deal with it. The gospel tells us that God is not against me, and it energizes me to deal with sin because I know that God has dealt with it in Christ already. Because I am encouraged and I am grateful for what God has done for me, I now have a desire to deal with sin. Having a desire to deal with sin is the first place we must start [3].

How Do We Keep the Desire?

We must preach the gospel to ourselves everyday. Remember our desire to deal with sin comes from our encouragement that God has already dealt with sin in Christ and that He is not against me, but for me. Second our desire to deal with sin comes from our gratitude to God for sending His Son to die, in order to make us holy, and to restore our relationship with Him. As we preach the gospel to ourselves, we should be both encouraged and overwhelmed with gratitude, and both should give us a desire to deal with the sin in our lives [4].

How Do We Work Sin Out of Our Lives?

The answer is that we do and we don’t. The main way sin is worked out of our lives is through the Holy Spirit working in our lives. As we are freed from sins reigning power in the gospel, we are also given the Holy Spirit, who takes up residence in our bodies. He then works to sanctify us through: (1) Convicting us of sin and (2) Enabling and empowering us to deal with sin. In addition to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, God allows circumstances to occur that help us to grow spiritually.

However, even though the Holy Spirit is working in our lives and God the Father is working everything out in His sovereign plan, we must remember that we are not removed from the fight. We cannot and must not be passive in our pursuit of holiness. We must still preach the gospel to ourselves, memorize Scripture, pray, and seek accountability from other believers. While we must fight, we must not forget that it is not all us. We do not rid sin from our lives by ourselves by simply trying harder. We must always come back to the gospel and the work of God in our lives. We cannot be passive. We must remember that we do participate in the sanctification process (Philippians 2:12-13) [5].

To help us remember the work of God and our work, Bridges offers a seven step process to dealing with sin in our lives:

(1) Apply the gospel
(2) Depend on the Holy Spirit
(3) Recognize your responsibility
(4) Identify specific respectable sins
(5) Memorize and apply appropriate Scriptures
(6) Cultivate the practice of prayer by planning consistent times and spontaneously praying when dealing with specific sins
(7) Involve one or a few other believers with you [6]

Looking Forward

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be using Jerry Bridges book Respectable Sins to help us see what sins we overlook in the church and our own lives. You will probably be just as surprised as I was of the amount of sins we commit but overlook or do not realize are even sins in our lives.

Resource

[1] Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 19.
[2] Ibid., 23-30.
[3] Ibid., 31-38.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid., 39-46.
[6] Ibid., 51.
You can purchase a copy of Respectable Sins on Amazon by clicking here.

Image: Phiseksit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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4 comments on “Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate

  1. Looks like a great series. Look forward to being challenged about the respectable sins in my life.

  2. [...] week we began our series on Respectable Sins, you can read the introductory post here. This week, we will deal with the first of many sins we as Christians ignore, that being [...]

  3. [...] I began a series on Respectable Sins, you can read the introductory post here and week two here. This week, we will deal with the second of many sins we as Christians ignore, [...]

  4. [...] I began a series on Respectable Sins, you can read the introductory post here and week two here. This week, we will deal with the second of many sins we as Christians ignore, [...]

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