Respectable Sins 3: The Malignancy of Sin

This is the third in a series of reflections on Jerry Bridges’ Respectable Sins.

According to Bridges, we should think of sin as we think of cancer. And lest you and I respond to this comparison as flippant, Bridges shares that he himself has experienced the ravages of cancer firsthand, losing his first wife during a year-long bout with the vile stuff. Like cancer, sin can spread inside of us undetected, and our own sins can even “metastasize” to those around us. The Puritans understood the dire realities of sin, and Bridges shares a series of book titles illustrating their opinion of sin:

The Sinfulness of Sin

The Mischief of Sin

The Anatomy of Secret Sins

The Evil of Evils or The Exceeding Sinfulness of Sin

I think you get the point. And the battle with sin is not just for the non-Christian. Bridges: “Now, here is the unvarnished truth that we need to lay to heart. Even though our hearts have been renewed, even though we have been freed from the absolute dominion of sin, even though God’s Holy Spirit dwells within our bodies, this principle of sin still lurks within us and wages war against our souls.” Paul calls the indwelling principle of sin working in us the flesh. The flesh is human personality under control of the sinful impulse. It is true that God gives us new hearts when we are born again. We are new creations, but the flesh persists in a manner analogous to muscle memory. For the Christian, the great problem is that we continue to live in ways inconsistent with our true identity in Christ. Sanctification is learning to live out of the reality of who we are in Jesus.

Why is sin so “sinful”? According to Bridges, any sin – even our “respectable” sins – is rebellion against the sovereign authority of God, despising of the law of God, and a grieving of the Holy Spirit. Ouch. But throughout this chapter, Bridges reminds us that hearing the bad news sets us up to receive the good news. He will explicate this good news in coming chapters.

Have you experienced the undetected “spread” of sin in your inner life? How did God get your attention? Have you experienced Christian community hurt by the “metastasizing” of sin among church members? How did healing and restoration occur in this context?

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