26 June, 2018

Respectable, right?*

I've read this book over the last month. It's a good one. Not quite as scary as the subtitle suggests, but definitely worth mulling over. I tried to take my time reading it, but it was actually quite an easy book in terms of reading and comprehending.

The author, Jerry Bridges, spends quite a bit of time at the start laying groundwork: how bad is sin and how we're all affected deeper than we usually imagine. He also is careful to emphasise the power of the Holy Spirit and how we should deal with sin. And each chapter points us to God, not just the depravity of ourselves.

Bridges admits that some sins are more serious than others, for example, "I would rather be guilty of a lustful look than of adultery". But, "the truth is, all sin is serious because all sin is a breaking of God's law." p20

Good news
The good news that he spends a whole chapter on, is that we are forgiven through the death of Jesus on the cross, if, when faced by our sin we want to "fall on [our] knees before God in repentance and contrition over the sins [we] have tolerated in [our lives]" p30

"To the extent that I grasp, in the depth of my being, this great truth of God's forgiveness of my sin through Christ, I will be freed up to honestly and humbly face the particular manifestations of sin in my life. That's why it is so helpful to affirm each day with John Newton that "I am a great sinner, but I have a great Savior."

That was good to keep in mind as he then moved onto writing about specific sin, how they look, how they are wrong, and what we can do about them. 

For example, anxiety. This is something most of us struggle with to one degree or another. It was particularly relevant to me as we headed into another big transition: going to Australia for six months. 

How is anxiety a sin? Actually we are told not to be anxious, and not to fear, many times in the Bible. Why is it a sin? Because it is distrust of God. If we give way to anxiety, we're believing that God won't take care of us. It's also not accepting that God orchestrates everything, "providence" is the word the author uses. God's in control and anxiety is not believing that. But it's also important to realise that, this side of heaven, we won't be free of sin. So being anxious about being anxious is not really helpful!

Here is a passage I found particularly clarifying. It related especially to the sins of discontentment  anxiety, and frustration:
The importance of a firm belief in the sovereignty, wisdom, and goodness of God in all the circumstances of our lives. Whether those circumstances are sohrt-term or long-term, our ability to respond to them in a God-honoring and God-pleasing manner depends on our ability and willingness to bring these truths to bear on them. And we must do this by faith; that is, we must believe that the Bible's teaching about these attributes really is true and that God has brought or allowed these difficult circumstances in our lives for his glory and our ultimate good. p76
So Bridges says we should "ask God to give [us] faith to believe that his providential will for [us] in these circumstances comes to [us] from his infinite wisdom and goodness and is ultimately intended for [our] good. And then ask God to give [us] a heart that is submissive to his providential will when it is contrary to [our] own plans." 'p 67

No magic cure
I find that helpful. This isn't a magic cure. None of the content of the book really was new content for me. But, like the Awe book I read last year, it is restating old truths I've known a long time. Truths that I'm often not living completely true to, though I know them. I need to continue to ask God to give me a humble heart, a heart honest enough to admit the subtle sins that lurk, largely unseen to others: judgmentalism, worldliness, frustration, selfishness, pride, impatience, jealousy, envy, etc.

So I say to myself again: "I am a great sinner, but I have a great Saviour!"

* This is the second of three assignments I've completed from the workshop I went to in April. I chose to read this book and write a reflection on it. If someone wants to put their hand up as the person I "shared it with" (this is a requirement of the assignment), and even mention it over coffee sometimes, or in an email/text discussion, that would be fantastic.
The first assignment I did in three posts in May: 1, 2, & 3.

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