This past May, as I was ordering my summer reading materials from the BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) Summer Reading List, I came across a book entitled “Respectable Sins” by Jerry Bridges. I thought, wow…so I ordered it. It is a pretty little book; the cover has the fall leaves in the background, which I like so much. I was reading something else at the time, so I put my book on the shelf, with every intention of coming back to it once I finished reading my present book. Needless to say, life happened and I did not get back around to my new book.
Fast forward to September. My Sunday School class used a curriculum for six weeks by another author, and lo and behold, that book was the segue into the new book, which happened to be “Respectable Sins”! When our pastor made the announcement, my heart leaped with joy because I already had the book, and I knew that God was up to something.
So, we are on chapter three of the book in Sunday School. Within the first three chapters, the Lord has convicted me of so many of the sins that I commit on a daily basis, thinking that there is nothing really wrong with what I am doing. My thoughts, my attitude, my quick temper, my impatience, my fear, my resentment, my bitterness, my silent anger, my sarcasm, my legalism, my pride, my prejudices, my anxiety, my worry, my doubt, my envy…the Lord has dealt with all of these and then some within the first three chapters! I am almost afraid to keep reading.
Isn’t it interesting how believers really do not think of themselves as sinners? We think that since we believe in the Lord Jesus, have been saved from the penalty of our sins, washed in the blood of the Lamb, and are on our way to heaven, that we are just okay? We think that we have no need to remember that the Lord bore our sins on His body on the cross. We think just like the Pharisee, who thought he was so much better than others, when we really should humble ourselves like the publican, who said, “God be merciful to me, a sinner…” (Luke 18:13).
We justify the sins that others cannot see. Sure, most of us may not be involved in adulterous relationships. We may not be murderers in the sense that we have taken a person’s life maliciously. We not have stolen money from a bank, or embezzled from our employer. Most of us do, however, harbor resentment against others who have hurt us in the past. We have allowed the root of bitterness to grow in our hearts. Most of us are envious of those who are seemingly more successful than we, or are thriving in an area where we struggle. We believe that since another person hurt us, our anger or bitterness is justifiable. We feel that we have to right to withhold forgiveness from one who disregarded our feelings, when in reality, that is exactly what we have done to God. We have disregarded His Word that says “…Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself…” (Luke 10:27). We are as guilty as our offender, and then some, because our sin placed the King of kings on the cross to bridge the gap between the Holy God and sinful man. No one else could accomplish such a feat. Only Jesus. We would be wise to remember that the things that we justify were the very things that sent Him to the cross.
It would be wise for us to remind ourselves every day that Jesus died for the sins that we commit on the outside, the grievous sins, and the sins that no one can see, or the respectable sins. Sin is sin. We would also be wise to teach ourselves not to categorize our sins. Preach the gospel to yourself on a daily basis. Draw closer to the Lord so that the sins that no one can see will begin to disgust you as much as the sins that everyone sees…