This is the chapter where we need to put out the advisory road signs As we begin the journey of dealing with our respectable sins we need to take care and exercise caution, because our sinful nature will not help us remember that in Christ we have been credited with Christ’s righteousness, that we put to death the sin in our lives only by the Spirit’s power.
Bridges speaks of our “default setting”, where we rely on our will power to deal with our respectable sins. My default setting involves trying harder to get rid of sin, “pulling up my socks”, “cleaning up my act”, praying harder, and more often. I beat myself up emotionally over sinful words, actions and thoughts, partly out of frustration, but also in a futile attempt to get the awfulness of my sin to sink into my head. My default setting when overwhelmed by my sin is to return to ignoring, minimising, excusing justifying etc, etc, my sin. In the long term, none of these tactics are effective. More to the point, when we rely on ourselves to deal with sin we’re effectively saying “God, your grace, in Jesus’ sin-bearing death, the gift of Christ’s righteousness credited to me, and your Spirit dwelling in me, are not good enough to forgive me and for dealing with my sin.” What an insult to the Father, the Son and the Spirit!
It is always the grace of God
Bridges “directions for dealing with sin” are helpful, coming after we’ve spent so much time applying the gospel and the work of the Spirit to the task of putting to deathour “no longer acceptable sins”. We’re about to start examining specific respectable sins. Do you think these directions will be helpful and realistic, as you begin to put to death those sins? Why?
I did appreciate his perspective on those times of disobedience and defeat, when we’re trying to move forwards but seem to be being pushed backwards, in the guerilla warfare between our sinful nature and the Spirit. At these times the Holy Spirit is not condemning us, or against us. Bridges suggests that the Spirit is using these times “to help you see how deeply rooted your sin is and how totally dependent you are on his power to help you.” And that, is glorifying to God!
Bridges says “ our spiritual life may be compared to the motor of an electric appliance. The motor does the actual work but it is constantly dependent upon the external power source of the electricity to enable it to work. Therefore we should cultivate an attitude of continual dependence on the Holy Spirit.”(p49). I’m thinking I’ll print out Romans 8:13 on a gift tag and attach it to electrical appliances I frequently use - my hairdryer, the iron, the kettle!
“Grace abounding, strong and true,
That makes me long to be like You
That turns me from my selfish pride
To love the cross on which You died.
Grace unending all my days
You’ll give me strength to run the race
And when my years on earth are through
The praise will all belong to you.
Grace paid for my sins and brought me to life
Grace clothes me with power to do what is right
Grace will lead me to heaven where I’ll see your face
And never cease to thank you for your grace.”
“Grace Abounding” Bob Kauflin,
from “Sovereign Grace Music Live”