“This book, as the title announces, is about sin — not only the obvious sins of our culture but the subtle sins of believers, the target audience of this book.” (p. 9)
The above quote is an apt description of Respectable Sins. It really is a book about sin, but it deals with the sins that we often do not take seriously. Bridges understands our current Christian culture. Christians have a way of focusing on the sins of society around us while overlooking the sins so prominent in our own hearts and lives. Bridges takes the scalpel of the Word of God and performs spiritual surgery on our hearts by exposing the cancerous sins which are destroying us spiritually. After exposing our sin, he offers hope of obedience through the gospel.
Respectable Sins begins by explaining the seeming disappearance of sin among us. Very few people in our culture think in terms of sin. Even our politically correct terminology has drifted from any awareness of sin. What about Christians? Surely we still recognize sin and are quick to point it out and denounce it. Has the idea of sin evaporated from our Christian churches? Bridges comments, “No, it has not disappeared, but it has, in many instances, been deflected to those outside our circles who commit flagrant sins such as abortion, homosexuality, and murder, or the notorious white-collar crimes of high level corporate executives.” (p. 19)
After explaining the disappearance of the recognition of certain sins from Christian culture, Bridges goes on to explain why this matters so much. He devotes the next four chapters of the book to a general explanation of sin. To give you an idea of the flow of these chapters, in order the titles go: The Malignancy of Sin, The Remedy for Sin, The Power of the Holy Spirit, and Directions for Dealing with Sins. These chapters are packed full of Biblical teaching on sin and the gospel.
Bridges wants us to learn to take sin seriously, but also to take the gospel seriously. His teaching on sin in these chapters is gospel centered. “Stepping forward to accept my place as a sinner in need of the gospel each day drives a dagger into my self-righteous heart and prepares me to face up to and accept the reality of the sin that still dwells within me” (p. 34). A proper understanding of the gospel and the power that it gives for obedience is the major emphasis of these introductory chapters. Apart from these first 6 chapters and the application of the gospel to life, any discussion of sin offers no hope and only brings more condemnation.
Bridges closes this section of the book by offering 7 general directions for dealing with sin. These directions include:
Apply the gospel
Depend on the Holy Spirit
Recognize your responsibility
Identify specific respectable sins
Memorize and apply appropriate Scriptures
Cultivate the practice of prayer
Involve one or a few other believers with you
Throughout the rest of the book, Bridges addresses each of the respectable sins we tolerate. He spends a chapter discussing each sin and gets very specific. Some of the sins discussed are: ungodliness, pride, anxiety, jealousy, sins of the tongue, worldliness and impatience.
Each chapter has a similar flow. He begins each chapter with a short explanation of what each sin means and looks like. For example, he defines ungodliness as “living one’s everyday life with little or no thought of God, or of God’s will, or of God’s glory, or of one’s dependence on God” (p. 54). After explaining what each sin looks like he often explains several ways in which it manifests itself in our lives. The helpful thing about each of these chapters is the specific way in which Bridges addresses these sins. He does not simply discuss pride. He explains several ways in which pride commonly manifests itself. He then ends the chapter by offering ways to confront the sin.
I believe this book will be tremendously helpful to Christians of all ages as they read it. It accomplishes several goals if read with humility. First, it brings sins we often neglect to deal with to the front of our minds. How many of us have even thought about our impatience this week? It’s a sin we learn to live with. Or how many of us have thought about our lack of self control today?
Second, this book focuses on heart issues and not externals. Sins of the heart are serious before the Lord, but we neglect them because no one else sees them. Respectable Sins drives our attention inward to our own hearts. Third, after driving our spiritual gaze inward, Bridges drives our gaze upward to the gospel. This book is gospel saturated and thoroughly explains how the gospel confronts our sins and shapes our lives. Finally, this book helps us to take sin seriously. As explained in the book, our culture seems to brush sin aside with ease. Respectable Sins will help us realize the malignancy of sin.
Respectable Sins is the type of book to keep close by and pull out when you are dealing with a specific sin and need help. It will direct your attention to Christ and offer Biblical ways to confront your own “respectable” sins.