Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Book Review: Respectable Sins - Confronting the Sins We Tolerate by Jerry Bridges

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Convicting look at many sins modern Christians don't treat as serious
Cons: Could go deeper on many of them
The Bottom Line:
Conviction of sin
And a call for repentance
A powerful read

Warning: Conviction Ahead

Just about a year ago, my bi-weekly Bible study started going through Jerry Bridges' book Respectable Sins.  I was expecting a convicting book, and boy was I right.

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.

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