This post is the second in a series of chapter summaries from Jerry Bridges’ Respectable Sins.
Bridges makes a bold claim: “The whole idea of sin has virtually disappeared from our culture.” Bridges published these words in 2007. He had yet to live to see the aftermath of the #metoo movement or the outrage mobs trolling social media for any sign of indiscretion against “inclusivity.” Has the heightened talk of morality in public actually made us a more moral people who are once again sensitive to the thing called sin? I would answer the question in the negative. Modern morality is often about performing for the sake of getting “in” with certain groups. It is undoubtably good to call out sexual abuse. But even our rightful calls for the end to such things are almost never followed up with a sexual ethic that has interest in doing what God wants us to do. Sin is still hard to talk about, especially in a world obsessed with therapeutic approaches to life.
But let us not bemoan the state of the culture. Bridges points out that sin has been forgotten in “conservative, evangelical churches.” In this case, the problem is one of deflection. We love to talk about the sins of the people out there (didn’t you see me doing it in the last paragraph?), but we don’t want to talk about the sins rampant within our own communities and our own hearts. Unfortunately, God is interested in our “respectable sins.” Bridges writes, “God’s law is seamless. The Bible speaks not of God’s laws, as if many of them, but of God’s law as a single whole.” This is why our “little” sins are dangerous. They break God’s seamless law just like the “big” sins. Bridges is quick to point out that different sins vary in levels of seriousness (isn’t murder much more consequential than a harsh word?). But this still shouldn’t stop us from seeing that “Sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4).
“Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them” (Galatians 3:10). This verse reminds us of two things. First, our “respectable” sins matter to God. They deserve the curse of God. Second, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13). Christ died so that we could be free of all sins, defined not according to cultural standards of sin but according to God’s righteous standard. “Good” Christian people need the cross, too.
What words do we often use to avoid saying the word “sin”? Have you ever had the experience of condemning the sins out in the world and then being humbled by God’s reminder of your own sins? If the Christian is reconciled to God through the work of Jesus, why are we so quick to try and cover up our sins? Do we really believe that even those things are forgiven?