Respectable Sins: Our Cancer and God’s Cure

Introduction & Schedule for blogging on Respectable Sins

Reflections on Chapters 1 & 2

First, a recommendation: Read this book. Get a hold of a copy if you don’t have it and read it. Hopefully, I will be able to communicate the heart of the chapters, but this is no substitute for your own reading and seriously considering the content.

In Chapter 3 of Respectable Sins, “The Malignancy of Sin”, Bridges gives us the really bad news about our sin. The news is so bad that he even encourages us to stick with him, because of the importance of understanding the severity of our sin so that we might understand the blessing of the good news. In this chapter, Bridges wishes us to understand that “sin is a spiritual and moral malignancy. Left unchecked it can spread throughout out entire inner being and contaminate every area of our lives” (23). And just like cancer, our sin can metastasize into the hearts of another person. This is an important point as we often fail to see how our sin affects other people.

The reality for us, even though believers are saints, “sin still lurks within us and wages war against our souls. It is the failure to recognize the awful reality of this truth that provides the fertile soil in which our ‘respectable’ or ‘acceptable’ sins grow and flourish” (24). Bridges makes the further analogy between sin and cancer, in that cancer is often undetected and subtle in its devious working within our bodies. We often are unaware that it is present, even after steps have been taken to eradicate it. Sin is subtle and deceptive in our lives. This all the more reason to take our sin seriously (The Puritan Ralph Venning used the following words to describe sin in his book The Sinfulness of Sin: vile, ugly, odious malignant, pestilent, pernicious, hideous, spiteful, poisonous, virulent, villainous, abominable, and deadly).

Finally, in this chapter, Bridges helps to see the reality of our sin in relation to God. First, sin is cosmic treason against God (26). It is rebellion against the sovereign authority and transcendent majesty of God (27) and it is against God by despising him and his law(28). Also, our sin grieves our Heavenly Father and it presumes upon His grace (28). And God is aware of our every sin. “This means that all of our rebellion, all of our despising of God and His law, all of our grieving His Holy Spirit, all of our presuming on His grace, all of our sin, is done openly in the very presence of God. It’s as if we are acting out all of our sin before Him as He sits on His royal throne” (29). Ouch! This is bad news indeed and certainly should cause to long for the good news.

Chapter 4, “The Remedy for Sin” is where Bridges helps us to see the good news of the Gospel. And because the Gospel is for sinners, not just for unbelievers, we get to revel in the Gospel too. And we need the Gospel on a daily basis. Bridges provides a model for us when he quotes John Newton, author of Amazing Grace, when he said near the end of his life, “My memory is nearly gone; but I remember two things: that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Savior.” Likewise, Paul is a model for us as we see that even as he grew in Christ-likeness he also understood more and more the greatness of his sin, so that he would say near the end of his life that he was chief of sinners (I Timothy 1:15). Both and Newton used the present tense to describe their sin.Just as important as our understanding of the reality of our sin, is our understanding of the Gospel. “The remedy for our sin, whether scandalous or acceptable, is the gospel in the widest scope” (33). Bridges provides the following ways that the Gospel is a remedy for our sin:

  • The Gospel plows the ground of our hearts so that we can see our sin.
  • The Gospel also frees us to face our sin; it provides the assurance that our sin is forgiven.
  • The Gospel motivates and energizes us to deal with our sin.
  • The Gospel provides encouragement and produces gratitude, which produces in a desire to deal with our sin.

For these reasons, Bridges encourages us “to commit yourself to a daily, conscious appropriation of the gospel…The truth is, there is never a day in our lives when we are so ‘good’ we don’t need the gospel” (36-37). Bridges goes on in the last few pages in the chapter to provide some insight into the way that he “preaches” the Gospel to himself everyday and some of the verses that he has found helpful.

  • What are your thoughts from these chapters?
  • How were you challenged and encouraged?
  • How do you preach the Gospel to yourself? Do you do it daily?

Your comments are welcome. To comment: Click on the link at the bottom of the post (it will either say “No Comments” or the number of comments that have already been left, e.g. “2 Comments”). This will take you to a page where you are asked for your name (use your real name, just your first name, or type in anonymous) and your email (which will only be visible to me). Then type your comments in the box provided and press submit. I usually reply to the comments, so check back and keep the conversation going.

  • Read The Sinfulness of Sin by Ralph Venning
  • Read The Cross Centered Life by C.J. Mahaney; this is a great book for understanding the Gospel and learning how to apply it to our lives on a daily basis. A few copies are available at the church.
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6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mark Bender on April 30, 2008 at 11:05 am

    I remember leading a Bible study group in our home years ago and I was discouraged that those who were in the study were not comprehending the seriousness of their sin. My practice was to focus even more on sin’s vile nature and to apply the law in an even more forceful manner. However, the result was discouragement and and a sense of gloom and negativity. I came to realize that people will never be willing to consider their sin seriously unless the Gospel of Christ is being clearly presented along with our acknowlegement of sin. I heard someone say that for every one look at the law we need to take ten looks at Christ or the Gospel of forgiveness. The forgiveness we have in Christ makes it safe for us to consider our sin because we are no longer defined by our sin but rather by what Jesus has accomplished for us. I appreciate Bridges reminding us of this.

    Reply

  2. Posted by adamtisdale on April 30, 2008 at 11:20 am

    I think this is the one of those challenging tensions that we face in the Christian life: taking our sin seriously, but also taking Christ and the Gospel seriously. Bridges does a good job and I am glad that I read these two chapter together – they really do go together.

    Reply

  3. Posted by helen on May 8, 2008 at 10:21 am

    These two chapters made me think of what we sang on Sunday. I love this song for reminding me that Christ is the Friend of this Weary Sinner.

    Redeemer! Whither should I flee
    Or how escape the wrath to come?
    The weary sinner flies to thee
    For shelter from impending doom;

    Smile on me, gracious Lord,
    And show thyself
    the Friend of sinners now
    Smile on me, gracious Lord,
    And show thyself
    the Friend of sinners now.

    Reply

  4. Posted by adamtisdale on May 8, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    Great song…Great album (Red Mountain Music). Thanks for the reminder…I find I need constant reminding of the good news.

    Reply

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