Warning: If you have no desire to identify, expose and root out sin in your life, then this book is not for you.
Little white lies. Guilty pleasures. Errors in judgment. These are just a few examples of how the language of modern-day society softens and trivializes the seriousness of sin. When was the last time you heard someone said they fornicated? No, instead they say they "slept with" someone; now doesn't that sound nice and cozy? Saying that two people are "having an affair" sounds so much more pleasant than saying they're committing adultery. We are told to be sensitive and tolerant of the faults of others. We don't want to hurt someone's feelings, damage their self-esteem or cause them to feel guilty, let alone take responsibility, for their sinful behavior so we label the behavior a character flaw or even a disorder. But never mind the character flaws, weaknesses and sins of others; what we need to be concerned with is our own sin.
Jerry Bridges observes that the Puritans had a more serious view of sin and addressed this topic often in their writings; in one book he noticed that the author used such terms as "vile, ugly, odious, malignant, pestilent, pernicious, hideous, spiteful, poisonous, virulent, abominable, and deadly" to describe sin, and that was only in a few pages! Jerry Bridges compares sin to cancer, for "when desire [or lust] has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death" (James 1:15). For this reason Bridges believes that it's crucial for the Christian to confront every sin, and he doesn't hesitate to identify common, subtle sins that even Christians sometimes overlook or excuse.
"The acceptable sins...deceive us into thinking they are not so bad, or not thinking of them as sins, or even worse, not even thinking about them at all! Yes, some of our refined sins are so subtle that we commit them without even thinking about them, either at the time or afterward. We often live in unconscious denial of our 'acceptable' sins."
Every true believer knows that sin doesn't just go away the moment we come to faith in Christ. In his book, Bridges begins by trying to help the reader understand just how serious sin is and why:
"When we sin, when we violate the law of God in any way, be it ever so small in our eyes, we rebel against the sovereign authority and transcendent majesty of God...It is indeed cosmic treason...to despise God's law is to despise Him."
Even after we're saved we continue to battle remaining sin; a war wages within us between the flesh and the spirit (Rom. 7:14-25). We will become discouraged and defeated if we try to combat sin in our own strength. While it's true that no sin is so big that God cannot forgive it, it's also true that no sin is so small that He can overlook it. He takes no sin lightly, and neither should we. After all, "Shall we presume on God's grace by tolerating in ourselves the very sin that nailed Christ to the cross?"
"Make no mistake: Dealing with our sin is not an option. We are commanded to put sin to death. It is our duty to do so. But duty without desire soon produces drudgery. And it is the truth of the gospel, reaffirmed in our hearts daily, that puts desire into our duty...It is the gospel that motivates us to seek to be in our daily experience what we are in our standing before God."
The author follows this exhortation with some practical suggestions for confronting sin in our life. When the Holy Spirit reveals and convicts the believer of sin, his best weapon for dealing with it is the sword of the Spirit, God's Word. The Gospel is not only for unbelievers - it's for all sinners; "there is never a day in our lives when we are so "good" we don't need the gospel," Bridges says. For this reason, he encourages the reader to preach the gospel to himself daily, and gives some practical steps for confronting sin once we recognize it. I need to remind myself of what Jesus already accomplished for me and of God's promises.
Next, Bridges discusses some of the specific sins that are often tolerated by Christians, or not even considered by some to be sin at all. Of course this list isn't all-inclusive; you may think of other sins that affect you, and the above steps will still be applicable. Some of the sins Bridges addresses include: Ungodliness and Unthankfulness, Pride and Selfishness, Anger, Envy and Jealousy, Lack of Self-control, Sins of the tongue, Worldliness and others.
I'm sure every reader sees at least a couple of issues on this list that they know they struggle with, while there are others that you may not think apply to you as much, until you really take a closer look at them. Bridges reminds us that all sin begins in the heart and may express itself outwardly in different ways. Like a doctor who uses symptoms to diagnose a medical condition, by identifying particular signs or evidence of sin, Bridges helps the reader to dig down and expose the root sin which may be lying below the surface. This is where the reader can really begin to apply the truths to his own heart and life. This is definitely a book that I will be coming back to.
I recommend this book to every born again Christian, and every person who wants to know more about themselves. I'm really impressed to learn more about myself and others around me good or bad. My Pastor during his sermons would quote something from this book. So I got the book and was really surprised at what I didn't know. Get a copy you won't be disappointed. - Larry -