I missed posting about The Discipline of Grace last week. I did indeed read the first chapter, but I just didn't find time to post about it. This week, I had my act togther.
This chapter called "The Pharisee and the Tax Collector," deals with the tension between recognizing our sinfulness before God, but also recognizing the grace of God. Bridges points out that we often go to the extreme of wallowing in guilt or in becoming self-satsified.
Sometimes, we can think our sins are pretty minor as long as we're not doing anything really serious, like murder, adultery, or stealing. We might think we're pretty good, and we can become self-righteous because of all of our good deeds. As Bridges pointed out in the first chapter, no one can be good enough to stand before God. We depend on Christ to be able to stand before God. Bridges points out that we often live with what he calls "refined" sins. This section here sounds like it was the beginning of the idea for his book Respectable Sins. These sins are the more subtle ones like self-centeredness, harshness and judgmantalism, and sins of the tongue. He reminds the reader that the standard for holiness is not the world, but Jesus Christ himself:
As long as we compare ourselves with society around us and with other believers who are not as committed as we are, we are also apt to become confident of our own righteousness - not a righteousness unto salvation, but at least a righteousness that will make God pleased with our performance. The sin of the Pharisee, then, can become the sin of the most committed Christian.
Bridges reminds us to consider the seriousness of sin. We cannot become comfortable with sin. He points out that three words are often used to describe what sin is: rebellion, despise, and defy all demonstrate what we are actually doing when we sin against God. The seriousness of the sin is not measured in consequences alone; rather, it is in the rejection of the authority of the God who commands us.
Bridges closes the chapter with a great nugget from John Owen:
Believers obey Christ as the one by whom our obedience is accepted by God. Believers know all their dutes are weak, imperfect and unable to abide in God's presence. Therefore they look to Christ as the one ho bears the iniquity of their holy things, who adds incense to their prayers, gathers out all the weeds from their duties and makes them acceptable to God.
I found this quite really interesting, because in his book Respectable Sins, Bridges talks about the "weeds" of sins.
Bridges exhorts us to turn our attention from our outward performance and look to the gospel, which is the only provision for our sin.