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Respectable Sins | Book Review

book cover Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges on wood desk

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! 

Try me and know my thoughts! 

And see if there be any grievous way in me, 

and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Ps 139:23-24)

What a powerful prayer! 

One that unravels the pride and self-righteousness bound tightly around our hearts, seeking instead to open up those dark, secret places of our hearts, willing light to shine and the Spirit sweep the cobwebs.

It’s like the surgeon, performing a laparoscopic procedure. He usually has a good idea of what he’s going to find, but sometimes, once he’s got the camera in real close, he can see evidence of other problems or a reason for the symptoms. When we understand the problem, we can move to treatment.

For those of us in the church today, we’re prone to the speck-log dichotomy, where the “big” sins of others seem obvious but the “little” sins of our own are quietly tucked away in a corner growing cobwebs, often unseen until closely inspected.

But, do I want to be examined?


When the wave of shame easily washes over us, crushing us under the weight of all our imperfections, this prayer seems fearsome. The threat to our identity hangs in the balance if we gaze too deeply at our own sins. 

However, I remember this plea, “lead me in the way everlasting.”

Here’s where I want to be. Led closer to Christ. Invited nearer to the gospel of grace.

In Respectable Sins, Jerry Bridges takes us into the realm of sins we ignore, justify or accept, so that we may grow in grace and more into likeness of Christ.

I echo these words by J.I. Packer: “Read this book—we need to—and be ready for a gentle surgeon’s sharp knife.”

book cover Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges

Respectable Sins | Book Review


From the Author (I hope you enjoy this video)

quote from respectable sins by jerry bridges


Purpose of the Book

This resource is written to help Christians open their eyes to the sins we’ve come to deem as acceptable, then lead us to confession, repentance and dependent upon God’s grace. 

Table of Contents

Chapter One: Ordinary Saints

Chapter Two: The Disappearance of Sin

Chapter Three: The Malignancy of Sin

Chapter Four: The Remedy for Sin

Chapter Five: The Power of the Holy Spirit

Chapter Six: Directions for Dealing with Sins

Chapter Seven: Ungodliness

Chapter Eight: Anxiety and Frustration

Chapter Nine: Discontentment

Chapter Ten: Unthankfulness

Chapter Eleven: Pride

Chapter Twelve: Selfishness

Chapter Thirteen: Lack of Self-Control

Chapter Fourteen: Impatience and Irritability

Chapter Fifteen: Anger

Chapter Sixteen: The Weeds of Anger

Chapter Seventeen: Judgmentalism

Chapter Eighteen: Envy, Jealousy, and Related Sins

Chapter Nineteen: Sins of the Tongue

Chapter Twenty: Worldliness

Chapter Twenty-One: Where Do We Go from Here?


Though you see plenty of chapters, it’s not a thick book. However, don’t expect to breeze through the pages. If you approach this prayerfully, you’ll find it also painful—the healthy discomfort of the Spirit bringing your sin to light.

The first six chapters provide a biblical framework of sin and repentance. The rest of the book focuses on specific sins the church doesn’t address as robustly as “big” sins. The point is to look at all our sin as a problem we need to confront and address in our Christian life.

The end of the book provides a study guide for personal reflection or group discussions. I liked that it includes a section for action points and progress reports for accountability.

quote from respectable sins by jerry bridges

My Take

Saints Who Still Sin

“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Eph 2:19)

To be called a saint makes me bristle. 

I’m all too aware of the ways I’m stuck in my pride and selfishness. 

I came across a note in my journaling Bible, a lament after I turned 30, wondering how I could be walking with the Lord for 20-ish years of my life yet continue struggling with the same sin. I felt discouragement at the seemingly insurmountable task, shame over not having lived better to make it gone, and frustration that, yet again, I must bend my knee in confession and repentance.

Here’s where perfectionism wreaks havoc on my soul. Knowing with my head I’m not—and cannot—become perfect, yet my heart longs, even expects, to be. 

Peeling those layers back a little, I can see an element of pride in the discomfort of naming and confessing my sin. There’s also a layer of godly intent in wanting to live a transformed life for Christ. Yet, as Dane Ortlund shares, “we consign ourselves to plateaued growth in Christ if we yield to pride and fear and hide our sins” (Deeper, ch.6). When we keep ourselves from harmonizing our sin with his grace, our maturity lags with the incongruence of a dissonant chord. 

Nearing my forties now, these last years have been significantly shaped by a greater understanding of grace. In writing about how to live a worthy life, Sinclair Ferguson says, “live in a way that is in keeping with the gospel, that matches the gospel. This is what the balanced Christian life looks like.” (Worthy, ch. 1) 

Along our pilgrimage, this journey toward Christlikeness, the gospel meets us daily, inviting us to the cross with our sins to bear and receive the grace bestowed on us each day at every confession. There is no condemnation because we are in Christ; we’re met instead with restoration, peace and hope. His grace extends to our every day as the Spirit empowers and equips us to grow into maturity.

So the author writes, “In the biblical sense of the term, sainthood is not a status of achievement and character but a state of being—an entirely new condition of life brought about by the Spirit of God” (ch.1). We’ve let go of our old selves and donned the new one, and our position in Christ is safe and secure, even as we persevere through the temptations of this life.

“Every new believer has been set apart by God, separated unto God to be transformed into the likeness of His Son, Jesus Christ. In this sense, every believer is a saint—a person separated from his old sinful way of life and set apart by God to increasingly glorify God as his life is transformed.”

This book was an invitation for me to take a microscope across my life within the habits, temptations and sins that hide in the realm of “not that bad,” but, in truth, affect how I live. The Westminster Confession reminds us the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. Even though it’s uncomfortable, bringing sin to light is freeing at the cross of Christ for the purpose of our lives bringing all glory to God.

So I pray, “asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light” (Col 1:9-12).

quote from respectable sins by jerry bridges

My Recommendation

This author doesn’t mince words. He’s fairly direct and to the point. I say this to prepare you for the journey you’ll undertake. You’ll notice he uses many personal examples to remind the reader sin is stuck in all of us; I found a good balance between honesty and humility.

I’d posit the chapter on anxiety would benefit from added nuance; his approach I found a little narrow here.

I’d also say this is a 5 star read, one that would be helpful for all believers. 

If you’ve been working through a period of self-righteousness, find yourself aggressively condemning the sin of others without the lens of humble awareness of your own sin, I’d invite you to check this out.

If you’ve been in the church a long time and feel like you’re doing pretty good, this resource would help you find areas of growth.

If, however, you’re struggling right now with acute OCD and anxiety, this book may not be the best approach until you’ve got some tools to mitigate the overload of information.

quote from Respectable sins by jerry bridges

From the Author

A beautiful testimony from Jerry Bridges, I hope you enjoy it.

Quick Stats

# of Pages: 192

Level of Difficulty: Easy

My Rating: 5 stars

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Scriptures About Putting Off Sin

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. (Prov. 28:13)
So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. (Jam. 4:17)
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. (Col. 3:5-6)
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 Jn 1:8-9)
I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah (Ps. 32:5)
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Pet. 5:8)

Follow Along

2 comentarios

Thank you for this thoughtful review, Amber! Adding this book to my list for the new year. I loved the video with the author! I had heard the name Jerry Bridges before but didn’t really know who he was. Not only do I know a little more about him now, I can see his humble heart and motivation for writing this book. “The gospel is for sinners!”

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Amber Thiessen
Amber Thiessen
15 dic 2023
Contestando a

Thanks Cheryl! I've enjoyed learning more about the authors a little too, giving a face to a name is always so helpful :) I'll be glad to hear your thoughts after reading it!

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