Respectable Sins: Power & Directions for dealing with our sin

Introduction & Schedule for blogging on Respectable Sins

Reflections on Chapters 1 & 2

Reflections on Chapters 3 & 4

Christianity is often called a second chance for sinners. While I recognize elements of truth in that statement, it has always concerned me because it seems to place us back at the center of things. And that’s what got me in trouble in the first place. In chapter five, “The Power of the Holy Spirit”, Bridges presents a much better way of thinking about our battle with sin. He calls it dependent responsibility. By this Bridges means that we both have a responsibility to put to death the sin in our lives, but we are totally dependent upon the enabling power of the Holy Spirit.

The concept of dependent responsibility comes in the context of talking about the work of Christ cleansing us form the power of sin in two stages. “The first is deliverance from the dominion or reigning power of sin that is decisive and complete for all believers. The second is freedom from the remaining presence and activity of sin that is progressive and continues throughout our lives on earth” (39). We struggle, however, because we still feel the presence of sin in our lives and often wonder if the above is true. This is where we are encouraged to seek the enabling power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Though we may not understand the work of the Spirit, Bridges offers us a powerful reminder that we are not alone and that God will work sovereignly through our circumstances. This may mean conviction of sin through our conscience or Scripture or the Lord may bring to our memories the damage of past sin. The Holy Spirit also works without our conscious involvement.

  • Do you seek the enabling power of the Holy Spirit?
  • Do you pray for the Holy Spirit’s work in your life?
  • Do you believe that you can make spiritual progress on your own?

In chapter six, “Directions for Dealing with Sins”, Bridges does just that. Here are the the seven directions that he gives.

  1. Always address our sin in the context of the gospel. This was the topic of chapter four, but a much needed reminder. We are constantly tempted to strive in our own strength and forget the gospel.
  2. Learn to rely on the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. This was the topic of chapter five.
  3. While depending on the Holy Spirit, recognize our responsibility to diligently pursue all practical steps for dealing with our sin. Again covered in chapter five.
  4. Identify specific areas of acceptable sins. Now the fun begins – we would much rather remain ignorant of our sins.
  5. Bring to bear specific applicable Scriptures to each of our subtle sins. “These Scriptures should be memorized, reflected on, and prayed over as we ask God to use them to enable us to deal with those sin” (49).
  6. Cultivate the practice of prayer over the sins we tolerate. This includes both planned and spontaneous prayers as needed.
  7. Involve one or more believers with us in our struggles against our subtle sins. We are stronger together than we are alone, if we are willing to let others into our lives. As an aside, I was reminded of this good book that deals with this topic in saying that change is a community project.

I don’t know about you, but I am convicted by this list. As I consider these directions, I am aware of how much I tend to rely on myself. I am aware of how little I pray and even consider the “acceptable” sins. I suppose this is the point of the book…we accept too much and follow Christ too little. But let us not forget as Bridges reminds us: there is a battle between flesh and Spirit (Galatians 5:17).

  • How were you challenged by this chapter?
  • Does it encourage you or depress you?
  • Are you living by the gospel?

Next week (I’ll post on Tuesday) we start with the first two chapters on respectable sins, so let the fun begin! I am glad that Bridges used these first six chapters to remind us of the truth and power of the gospel of Christ and the “sinfulness of sin”. We need to be armed with these truths before we enter the fray.

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