Respectable Sins: Lack of Self-Control

Introduction & Schedule for blogging on Respectable Sins

Reflections on Chapters 1 & 2

Reflections on Chapters 3 & 4

Reflections on Chapters 5 & 6

Reflections on Chapters 7 & 8

Reflections on Chapters 9 & 10

Reflections on Chapters 11 & 12

In chapter 13 of Jerry Bridges very good book, Respectable Sins, he addresses the topic of self-control. He defines self-control as “a governance or prudent control of one’s desires, cravings, impulses, emotions, and passions” (110). But Bridges is quick to point out a paradox of the Christian life: we must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to enable our self-control rather than our own will power. We are also reminded that Biblical self-control covers every aspect of life. On one hand, I am encouraged by the reminder to rely upon the Holy Spirit, but it is discouraging to think about self-control applied to every aspect of life. I get tired just thinking about it, but then again maybe I have been relying on my own natural will-power. I suppose that makes for an unholy alliance: my flesh and my will-power.

Bridges addresses self-control in three areas and then suggest others to consider:

  • Eating and Drinking: for Bridges this a matter of self-control as applied to each individual versus simply referring to those who struggle with their weight. An example Bridges uses is the over-consumption of soda. Personally this is an area where I struggle. I did give up caffeine and soda for lent a couple of years ago, but I typically drink at least one soda a day and I am not sure that this is so good for me.
  • Temper
  • Personal Finances: again this might apply to someone who is in debt (“I’m up to debt to my eyeballs. Somebody help me – please” – name that pop culture reference) or someone with lots of resources used poorly or without restraint.
  • Use of computer or television, impulse buying, engaging in hobbies, or playing/watching sports.

I was also struck by another thought towards the beginning of the chapter: “We have boundaries from our Christian culture that tend to restrain us from obvious sins, but within those boundaries we pretty much live as we please” (110). We can all be guilty of this in small or large ways. This also highlights another danger of legalism (this is my tangent, rather than Bridges thoughts). By subscribing to a man-made system of laws, which may protect us from some dangers or troubles, we may be tempted that we are free from other unrelated sins. That is, if I begin to think my righteousness is built up by my law keeping in one area, I may well be tempted to ignore sins in other areas. Why focus on our sin, which only declares our unfitness (gossip or haughty spirit), when I can focus on my spiritual health through arenas where I excel (e.g. not drinking alcohol or not swearing)?

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  2. […] chapters, fifteen and sixteen of Respectable Sins, Jerry Bridges addresses the topic of anger.  He states at the end of chapter sixteen that his […]

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