There is no question that Christians must strive to be holy. Scripture tells us, “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14, ESV) It also informs us that “whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” (1 John 2:6, ESV) Jerry Bridges did a great job of reminding us of this in his book The Pursuit of Holiness. Bridges takes it deeper and further in his book Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate.
When we, as Christians, think about sin, our minds seem to naturally go to the “big” sins, such as theft, adultery, murder, and so on. Bridges boldly confronts the “smaller” sins that we seem to overlook or at least tolerate. After a few chapters delving into the importance of dealing with sin in general and the reminder that it must be driven by God’s grace through the power of the Holy Spirit (and not through determined effort alone), he begins in the remaining chapters to challenge us to purify our lives by concentrating on the sins that impact us the most in our daily lives. This makes for some uncomfortable, but very enlightening and needful, reading. The sins Bridges focuses on are ungodliness, anxiety and frustration, discontentment, unthankfulness, pride, selfishness, lack of self control, impatience and irritability, anger, judgmentalism, envy, jealousy, sins of the tongue (gossip, slander, critical speech), and worldliness. Which of us doesn’t need the help provided on several of these issues?
I am always challenged as I read books by Bridges. He is one of the best authors at bridging the gap between God’s grace and our effort. While he always avoids the traps of legalism and striving according to our own fleshly strength, he also avoids the errors of free grace and a “let go and let God” mentality. He really does a great job at reminding us to “work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in [us], both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13, ESV)
I would strongly encourage all Christians to read this book. It is a great reminder that we still need the gospel and the grace of God in our lives every day as we continue to grow more into the character of Christ, dealing with the “respectable sins” in our lives.