When we define sin as only what other people do, we’re sinning ourselves. Even our “nice” sins are still bad. Read more from Jerry Bridges on our “refined sins.”
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Excerpt from The Discipline of Grace
A large part of our problem as evangelical believers is that we have defined sin in its more obvious forms — forms of which we are not guilty. We think of sin in terms of sexual immorality, drunkenness, lying, cheating, stealing, and murder.
. . . Most often our sin problem is in the area I call “refined” sins.
These are the sins of nice people, sins that we can regularly commit and still retain our positions as elders, deacons, Sunday school teachers, Bible study leaders, and yes, even full-time Christian workers.
What are some of these “refined” sins?
As I looked at my own life, one of the first that came to mind was the tendency to judge others and to speak critically of them to other people. That this sin came to mind so quickly surprised me, because I don’t think of myself as a critical or judgmental person.
Perhaps that is part of the problem.
This seems to be such an acceptable vice among believers that we don’t even recognize it unless it is flagrant—and always in someone else.
. . . Which of us, then, does not offend frequently with our tongue?
The real problem, however, is not our tongues but our hearts.
Jesus said, “For out of of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). So it would not be sufficient to win control over our tongues, even if we could. We must recognize the sin in our hearts.
What are some other “refined” sins that we can commit and still be respectable among our Christian friends? Some of the more common ones are in the area of interpersonal relationships. These would include resentment, bitterness, an unforgiving spirit, impatience, and irritability.
. . . One of our problems with these so-called refined sins is that we have become too comfortable with the whole concept of sin. Because we do sin so frequently we learn to coexist with it as long as it doesn’t get too out of control or scandalous.
We forget, or perhaps have never learned, how seriously God regards all sin.
– Jerry Bridges
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