Debbie's Reviews > Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate

Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges
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Nov 02, 09

bookshelves: christian, non-fiction
Read in October, 2009

I received this book as a review copy from the publisher. I liked that "Respectable Sins" frequently referred to Scripture. It also pointed the reader to God for help. I appreciated that the author stressed the character and sovereignty of God while still (implied by his statements) acknowledging the role of free will. This was a good book in that it stressed the seriousness of all sin ("small" and "large") and it pointed out that wrong attitudes are serious, too.

Since the sins listed on the back cover are all ones of attitude (jealousy, anger, pride, unthankfulness, judgmentalism), I assumed the point of the book was about attitudes--how the Bible teaches that we might get our behavior outwardly correct, but as long as our attitudes are wrong then our wrong behavior will keep slipping through despite our best efforts. Thus, we need to have changed attitudes in order to have permanently changed behaviors.

However, the author didn't clearly point this out and treated attitudes the same way as behavior--this is a wrong attitude that makes us act in these ways; don't act this way, but act this way; ask God for help. Most of each chapter was focused on how we act--behavior--rather than staying focused on the root of the problem (the heart/attitudes) and the solution (Christ). Some chapters were better with this than others.

I had problems with chapters 3-6. The author previously stated that those who have accepted Christ as their Savior are now saints and that God sees Jesus' righteousness when He looks at us. Great! But then he stressed multiple times that our identity is really still "a great sinner" and that we are constantly sinning and can do nothing without selfish motives.

Um. Christ's work means my identity is no longer SINNER even if I sin. Also, I'm not constantly sinning and I can do things with no selfish motives--and all the credit, praise, and glory for this goes to God. If this isn't happening, I have to wonder if the person is allowing God to work in their life.

The author also stated that our progress on changing can be very slow, so much so that it appears no progress is being made. Again, this isn't how it has to be. Generally, the Holy Spirit convicts me of sin, I fall on my knees in sincere repentance, and I pray "Lord, I know this attitude is not pleasing to you, but I acknowledge my inability to change it. I surrender. Please take Lordship over this part of my heart. Give me your heart / an attitude pleasing to you about this situation." I'm delighted to find that my attitude has truly and lastingly changed within minutes to hours of saying this prayer. (Though sometimes I also have to add "help me to see this sin the way you do so that I can sincerely reject this attitude and want to change.") It's then easy and joyful to behave correctly--not to mention restful since I don't have the burden of making this impossible change on my own.

Which brings me to a statement the author also repeatedly made. It's summarized on page 49: "...while depending on the Holy Spirit, we must at the same time recognize our responsibility to diligently pursue all practical steps for dealing with our sins....Here the wisdom of some of the older writers will help us: 'Work as if it all depends on you, and yet trust as if you did not work at all.'"

I agree that we play a role--sincere repentance and surrender, asking God to transform our attitudes, and not repeating actions we know are going to put us in the way of temptation. However, I don't agree that we should act as if anything depended on us. The whole point is that it doesn't. Besides, since when does God share the glory? If we can claim credit for getting ourselves part of the way to perfection, then we're stealing some of the credit and glory that belongs only to God.

I have mixed feelings about this book. Parts were good, and I'm sure there are people who would find it convicting. However, I think that books like "Because He Loves Me" by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick, "Believing God" by Beth Moore, and "Eyes Wide Open" by Jud Wilhite do a much better job at explaining how to become free of these sins.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Alyse I think you missed his point


Felicia Thank you for your review and I agree with some parts. Particularly this one: "I had problems with chapters 3-6. The author previously stated that those who have accepted Christ as their Savior are now saints and that God sees Jesus' righteousness when He looks at us. Great! But then he stressed multiple times that our identity is really still "a great sinner" and that we are constantly sinning and can do nothing without selfish motives.

Um. Christ's work means my identity is no longer SINNER even if I sin. Also, I'm not constantly sinning and I can do things with no selfish motives--and all the credit, praise, and glory for this goes to God. If this isn't happening, I have to wonder if the person is allowing God to work in their life."

I kept thinking I missed the boat on Jesus' redemption and when I saw this in the book, it would jar me. But I saw your book recommendations about how to become free of sin and I will definitely look at those.


Todd Morales We're still sinners.


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