Posts Tagged ‘sin’

Cancer & Sin

I Peter 5:8 – Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls aroundlike a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
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I wish this weren’t true, but it is.  And I mistakenly thought that Satan might give me a break from temptation – at least for a little while.  After all, haven’t I suffered enough.  And aren’t I doing a good enough job on my own? (yes).  But that not the way things work.

Jesus’ Temptation is instructive at this point.  Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the wilderness.  And no, at the end of it all, Jesus didn’t catch a break from Satan.  No, instead he waited to attack and tempt Jesus at the end of that time when we would he would be at his weakest and lowest point.  He waited until Jesus would be hungry and thirsty for a way out and an end to his trials, which were only just beginning.  But thankfully for us, Jesus prevailed.

And so, I find myself still struggling with sin in my life.  Temptation comes from all sides and often when I am at my lowest point.  Of course, like Jesus, my best defense is to arm myself with the Word of God and be prepared for the attack to come.

But that’s hard isn’t it.  We don’t see it coming.  And we don’t recognize temptation for what it is.  Let me give you an example of such sin struggles in my life at this point.  I love to use Faceboook.  We use for the church.  I use it to keep up with family and friends.  And they have used to send me reminders of their prayers or other such encouragement.  So, I enjoy Facebook.  But there has been a sin that I don’t I have wrestled with as much in the past (of course, I could be very wrong about that!):  Envy and Jealousy.  These are what Jerry Bridges would call “respectable sins” in his great book by the same title.  They are subtle.  What happens is I see all the happy people on Facebook taking their wonderful vacations to the beach or the mountains.  And they are eating such scrumptious meals and having all around good time.  On one hand, I can be happy for them and glad they can delight in such things.  On the other hand, I don’t understand why they deserve such goodness and I have received such hardship.  What did I do to deserve this?  Why did all my plans get wiped off the map with the mention of one little word: cancer.    Envy and jealousy then creep in and I find myself loathing my friends and myself.  No, there is no let up in the temptation.  Sorry, I wish I could tell you otherwise. 

What is happening in my heart when I begin to entertain the sin of envy and jealousy.

  • I have forgotten God’s goodness and His Sovereignty
  • I have neglected to use a powerful weapon to combat this sin, as Jesus did:  the Word of God.
  • I have failed to realize that everything God gives is a gift of His grace and none of us is worthy.
  • I have failed to love my friends and family well.
  • I have not believed that God is sufficient for all my needs.
  • And I have not believe that my Savior has completely vanquished my enemy and I am victorious in Him.
  • And I forgotten how good God has been to me and my family.

No, there is no let up in the temptation.  Sorry, I wish I could tell you otherwise.   Thankfully, I can also tell you that there is no let up in the mercy and forgiveness of God, that covers all our sins.  Especially the ones that we so often let pass and do not recognize.  Envy and Jealousy in Him.  What subtle and respectable sins do you find yourself struggling with?

I Peter 5:6-11:  Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. Andafter you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

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Quotation: The Art of Pastoring

From David Hansen’s The Art of Pastoring:

The call to repent assaults the Old Adam in us:  the life of the flesh, our involvement in the sinful structures of this world, our stubborn refusal to yield to God’s will.  We cherish our sin, we clutch it, it kills us but we love it.  The gospel demands we choose life, rejecting sin and its ungodly demands.  So the love of God in the gospel works like a surgeon.  Cutting out sin’s cancer, with pain like death, the gospel heals.”   (pages 38-39)

Respectable Sins: Where do we go from here?

In the final chapter of Respectable Sins, Bridges asks the question that forms the chapter title:  where do we go from here? I’ll use this as an opportunity to reflect (as Bridges does) on the book overall:

  • Bridges is a spirtiual-masochist (I made that up, I think):  “At times, this may have been painful.  I hope it has, because that means you have been honest enough and humble enough to admit the presence of some of these sins in your own life” (177).  But this is so very important for our growth as Christians, especially as most of us make pain (of any kind) avoidance a hobby and a hallmark of American Christianity.
  • Bridges has done a great service to the Church in bring these “respectable sins” to light and helping us see the need to repent of these sins.   Repentance of such sins will help us both in our followship of Christ and in our attractive to non-followers.
  • I appreciate the emphasis in the book on the following:  the daily need of the Gospel in our lives, the power of the knowledge (of the kind that moves toward action) of the Sovereignty of God, the use of Scripture to promote repentance and holiness, and the emphasis on humility.
  • This is a book worth keeping handy as a resource and a help for specific areas of sin, personally or corporately.  We are also going to use it (along with the study guide) in a Sunday School class.
  • I do not have many criticisms of the book and any are minor.  I did feel like the chapter on worldliness was one of the weaker chapters and much of the material could have been dealt with otherwise.  That said, there were still some good thoughts therein.  My friend, Ken, post his thoughts on the book here and would recommend a reordering of chapters and I know others who found the first section of six chapters to be a bit laborious (my words).  I agree in a sense, but I also think those chapters are incredibly important and foundational and glad that Bridges included them.  I wonder do if the same material could have been compressed a little.  I like Ken’s suggestion to move some of those chapters (e.g. Directions for Dealing with Sins) to the end of the book.  Still, Ken and I would both say this criticism is minor and even editorial.
  • Finally, I would highly recommend this book for any individual or for group study desiring to grow in relationship with Christ.  I am glad I decided to “steal” (an unrespectable sin for sure) the idea of “blogging” this book from Ken & Joel!

Respectable Sins: Worldliness

Alas, we have come to chapter 20 and the last of the respectable sins from the aptly named book by Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins.  In this final chapter, Bridges addresses the sin of worldliness and a few of its manifestations.  First, however, it is important to define terms – especially one as broad and possibly misused at “worldliness”.  It’s a very easy term for Christians to label other Christians, but we should want better than a simple label.  So, Bridges provides this two part definition: “being attached to, engrossed in, or preoccupied with the things of this temporal life [authors emphasis]worldliness means accepting the values, mores, and practices of the nice, but unbelieving, society around us without discerning whether or not those values, mores, and practices are biblical” (166).

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Respectable Sins: Sins of the Tongue

I just can’t read more than a chapter of Jerry Bridges’ book, Respectable Sins, at a time anymore.  Chapter 19 is by far the shortest chapter in this book, but once again it carries a powerful punch.  In this chapter, Bridges addresses the sins of the tongue and he is not just talking about gossip.  The sins of the tongue also include:

  • lying
  • slander
  • critical speech (even when true)
  • harsh words
  • insults
  • sarcasm
  • ridicule

While there are many verses in the Bible that address the sins of our tongue (e.g. James 3), Bridges has found Ephesians 4:29 to be the most helpful/convicting:  “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”  This leads to a question for us to ponder as we consider the words that we use, whether in the context of gossip (as Bridges introduces it) or modified otherwise:  “Will what I’m about to say tend to tear down or build up the person I’m about to talk about?” (authors emphasis).  This is a good question, if we will stop long enough to think and not just speak. We might also ask, along with Bridges, other questions about our words:  “Is it kind?” and “Is it needful?”.

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Respectable Sins: Envy, Jealousy, & Related Sins

Envy…yes, I know a little about envy.  And it is often subtle and hard to discern in our own hearts.  I struggled with envy during my first year in seminary.  In particular, I envied my classmates who had seemingly better circumstances than we did – especially my friends who did not have to work and seemed to have extra time to study or to read or play.  I did not expect to feel this way, but a resentment built up in my heart.  What was interesting during this first year, is that I worked for a wealthy family as their errand boy.  They had all the things you could want (including an elevator in their house – if you like that sort of thing), but I didn’t envy them.  I didn’t want their life, their house, or their stuff.  I wanted what my classmates had or what I thought they had.  In this way, I understand what Jerry Bridges says in chapter 18 of Respectable Sins:  “First, we tend to envy those with whom we most closely identify.  Second, we tend to envy in them the areas we value most” (149).

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Respectable Sins: Judgmentalism

“We equate our opinions with truth.” (Bridges, 141)

Well isn’t that why we blog? After all, I can’t help it if I’m right!

Actually, this very notion of judgmentalism, which Jerry Bridges writes about in chapter 17 of Respectable Sins, is one of the reasons that I was hesitant to start this blog – for fear of revealing my own heart judgments in a way that is dishonoring to God, not edifying to the church, nor attractive to non-Christians. Hopefully, I have not stumbled in this regard, but would I know?

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