We have come to the second chapter in our effort of reading through Jerry Bridges’ Respectable Sins, titled “The Disappearance of Sin.” In this chapter, Bridges continues his introduction, and gives several examples from secular and Christian culture about how the concept of sin has been extinguished from the American consciousness. This phenomenon is evident in secular and pop culture: “People no longer commit adultery – instead they have an affair. Corporate executives do not steal – they commit fraud.”
But perhaps more disturbing is that the biblical idea of sin is no longer prevalent in many of America’s evangelical churches – at least not on an individual level. Bridges explains that sin has been deflected to those outside church circles who commit “flagrant” sins such as abortion, homosexuality, murder, etc. Bridges says that “it is easy for us to condemn those obvious sins while virtually ignoring our own sins of gossip, pride, envy, bitterness, and lust.”
But Bridges uses James to relate the concept of the seriousness of individual sins to the reader. James (in James 2:10) says that whoever fails in one point of the law is guilty of all of it. Thus, all sin is serious and deserving of God’s wrath because all sin is a breaking of God’s law. Bridges admittedly “painted a rather dark picture,” but he points out that as God’s chosen people, we must take all sin seriously and heed God’s call to repentance and reconciliation with him. Part of the purpose of Bridges’ book is to open our eyes “to God’s calling to lead us to the place where we do see the sins we tolerate in our own lives so that we will experience the repentance and renewal we need.”
I know I am guilty of overlooking my own personal sins like impatience, lack of self control, bitterness, anxiety, and lust and focusing my attention and grief on larger, societal sins like crime, oppression, and lack of care for the poor. While these are definitely important issues, and we as Christians should be concerned with them, we should not be so consumed with passion for them at the expense of an awareness of and confession of our own individual sins.
One important means God has given us to show us our sin and to lead us to repentance is the Holy Spirit. We are called as Christians to ask the Lord for his strength and grace in order to grow in holiness. I definitely need more grace everyday because of my own “respectable” sins.