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I was reading Stephen Altrogge’s blog a week or so ago and came across a great post and thought I would pass it along. Read it here.

I just began meeting with one of my Pastor’s on a weekly basis for accountability and encouragement. We decided to read a book to discuss – The Gospel for Real Life by Jerry Bridges. I thought I would share a few quotes that stuck out to me from the Introduction and 1st chapter.

“All of us, regardless of how long we have known Christ, need to bathe ourselves in the gospel every day.”

“… we have a truncated view of the gospel, tending to see it only as a door we walk through to become a Christian.”

He further says that we fail to see the gospel as the basis of our day-to-day acceptance with Him. That the gospel is good news that directly addresses the ultimate bad news of our lives. “…one sign of spiritual growth is an increased awareness of our sinfulness.”

The gospel is more than just fire insurance into heaven, it is our life and breath. Looking forward to diving into this book!

This past Sunday I had the privilege to preach and my text was Hebrews 12:1-3, one of my favorites. As I tried to unpack this passage and explain what this text meant to the original audience and how it can apply to us, one phrase stuck out. “laying aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us,”. An encumbrance is simply a bulk, weight or mass of some kind. It isn’t necessarily bad. But as the author says, we need to lay it aside. So, I started asking myself what are the encumbrances that I need to lay aside so that I can run the race of faith better? Television, internet, books, relationships…. what is slowing me down? This is not an easy question and sometimes not a pleasant one to answer.

The author then continues to press his point by saying we need also to remove the sin that entangles us. This entanglement is harasses or attacks us. It trips us up. Like running the race with our shoes untied. So what could this sin be that seems to be constant in our lives? Jerry Bridges in his book Respectable Sins, details some of the sins that we passively overlook in our lives. It could be discontentment, unthankfulness, pride, selfishness, lack of self control, impatience & irritability, anger, judgementalism, envy, tongue or worldliness. One thing that is common with all sin – IT ISN’T PASSIVE.

Sin is active.

C.J. Mahaney wrote an article a little more than a month ago concerning the issue with Tiger Woods and the deception of sin:

“Deception is part of sin’s DNA. Sin lies to us. It seeks to convince us that sin brings only pleasure, that it carries no consequences, and that no one will discover it. Sin works hard to make us forget that character, conduct, and consequences are interconnected. And when we neglect this relationship—when we think our sins will not be discovered—we ultimately mock God.”

Some of us have been lulled into thinking that if we can suppress sin long enough it will just away; we have fooled ourselves by saying sin is not really a big deal. And in reality we have mocked God. Proverbs 28:13 “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.” What sin(s) in our lives do we need to confess to God? We have the promise in scripture that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Thank God for his long-suffering for us His children!

“In order for us to be made alive, all our sins must be forgiven, not merely some of them. Not just the big ones. In fact, there is no such thing as a little sin — all sin is an infinite offense because God is infinitely holy. Any type or amount of sin earns a death sentence.”

Jerry Bridges & Bob Bevington, The Great Exchange: My Sin for His Righteousness (Wheaton: Crossway, 2007), 190

“Sin is what you do when your heart is not satisfied with God. No one sins out of duty. We sin because it holds out some promise of happiness. That promise enslaves us until we believe God is more to be desired than life itself.” – John Piper, Future Grace

I was thinking today about the section in Jerry Bridges book, “Respectable Sins” in which he is dealing with pride as a sin that we tolerate and excuse in our lives. He says,

…the assumption that whatever my doctrinal beliefs are, they are correct, and anyone who holds another belief is theologically inferior.” (p.92)

I think it is a great statement that needs to be made in light of our present situation in Christendom. We all can be guilty of this sin of pride, whether we are dispensational or covenant theology or calvinist or arminian. What struck me as I thought about this subtle sin, is that we somehow justify our attitudes, words or actions in the name of Christ or His Word. When we say that we have cornered the market on a certain doctrinal belief, we are actually saying that we are Spiritually superior.

Now, by no means do I condone not being passionate about our convictions from Scripture. But my point, along with Bridges, is that we need to hold to those beliefs with an attitude of humility. Bridges brings out the passage in 1 Corinthians 8:1 as a support of how we sometimes allow our doctrinal stances to turn into sin. “Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that all of us possess knowledge. This knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” (1 Cor. 8:1, ESV) Bridges writes, “Paul agreed with their ‘knowledge’ — that is, their doctrinal belief regarding eating food offered to idols — but he charges them with doctrinal pride. Their ‘knowledge’ had puffed them up” (p.92)

I have just recently been in a conversation with a believer who was very upset with those that hold to post-tribulational view of end times. He was so disgusted with this view that he was sharing how he couldn’t see how he could even be a friend to those that hold to that belief. He was choosing isolation over friendship because of his doctrinal pride. The issue is not the belief, but the attitude in which we deal with the differences that we have. Maybe we don’t have anyone right now in our circle of friends (or acquaintances) that differ from our belief system, but we will someday.

My hearts desire is to hold to my doctrinal beliefs with passion and zeal; but also to hold to them with genuine humility that honors the name of Jesus Christ.

-jeff

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