Tuesday, February 05, 2008

More Respectable Sins

After reading the odd chapter here and there I've decided to reread from the beginning, Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins we Tolerate. It's a great book and I can't recommend it enough. I mentioned previously that it would be a painful read and perhaps some of you might have been put off, wondering whether the book is only going to give you a good going over. Well let me say, it does and it doesn't!

Jerry Bridges is in no doubt whatsoever that uncovering those underlying "acceptable" sins in our lives is a sore job and so his first few chapters set you up well for the hard bits. I particularly enjoyed a chapter which dealt with 7 things to do when addressing sin in your life. I thought I'd share them to encourage you as you seek to walk by the Spirit and put to death the desires of the flesh.

1. Apply the Gospel - "As we struggle to put to death our subtle sins, we must always keep in mind this twofold truth: Our sins are forgiven and we are accepted as righteous by God because of both the sinless life and sin-bearing death of our Lord Jesus Christ. There is no greater motivation for dealing with sin in our lives than the realisation of these two glorious truths of the gospel."

2. Depend on the Holy Spirit - "Regardless of how much we grow..we never get beyond our constant need of the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. Our spiritual life may be compared to the motor of an electrical appliance. The motor does the actual work, but it constantly depends upon the power source of the electricity to enable it to work."

3. Recognise your responsibility - "Work as if it all depends on you, and yet trust as if you did not work at all."

4. Identify specific responsible sins - "As you identify a particular sin, give thought to what situations trigger it. Anticipating the circumstances or events that stimulate the sin can help in putting it to death."

5. Memorise and apply appropriate Scriptures - "We should bring to bear specific applicable Scriptures to each of our subtle sins. These Scriptures should be memorised, reflected on, and prayed over as we ask God to use them to enable us to deal with those sins. The psalmist wrote: 'I have stored up your word in my heart , that I might not sin against you.' (119:11) To store up means to lay aside for future need."

6. Cultivate the practice of prayer - "It is through prayer that we consciously acknowledge our need of the Holy Spirit, and...continually acknowledge the presence of those persistent sin patterns in our lives."

7. Involve one or a few other believers with you - "We need the mutual vulnerability with and accountability to one another, as well as the praying for one another, if we want to make progress in dealing with sin." More practically, Bridges suggests asking others for their evaluation of the subtle sins in your life: "Set aside time with your spouse, your brother or sister, or a good friend. Ask for their honest feedback. Assure them you will not become defensive or question their evaluation. Just listen but don't respond. You might ask them to rate you in each area according to a scale something like this:
  • Not a problem
  • Occasionally a problem
  • Frequently a problem
  • Characteristic of your life
Even if you don't agree with their assessments, take them to heart in humility. God may be using the other person to open up areas you have been in denial about."

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