BCL Grow: Subtle Sins — Luke 18:13-14

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Luke 18:13-14 (Sanctification)

Bible Passage

“But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” — Luke 18:13-14


“Has the idea of sin all but disappeared from us also? No, it has not disappeared, but it has, in many instances, been deflected to those outside our circles who commit flagrant sins such as abortion, homosexuality, and murder, or the nortorious white-collar crimes of high-level corporate executives. It’s easy for us to condemn those obvious sins while virtually ignoring our own sins of gossip, pride, envy, bitterness, and lust, or even our lack of those gracious qualities that Paul calls the fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23).” — Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, p. 28.

Steps to Take

1. Reflect: Think about how we often decry the obvious sins of others while excusing our own “respectable sins,” which Jerry Bridges calls “the subtle sins of believers.”

2. Remember: We live in a fallen, sinful world that displays egregious and very public sins before us through all kinds of media. We often tend to focus more on the sins of others rather than on our own seemingly private and relatively more subtle sins that wage war against us. These are sins such as impurity, fleshly passions, evil desires, envy, covetousness, anger, slander, pride, and lying, among others. But God’s word tells us to consider our own sinfulness before we consider the sins of others (see, for example, Matt. 7:1-5).

3. Respond: Before spending time condemning the sins of others, make it a matter of sincere reflection to consider your own sins that you are called to battle. Confess these sins in prayer. Humbly pray that God would cause you to mortify them while growing in righteousness. Know, believe, and trust that God is working in you, sanctifying you, and conforming you to the image of his Son, Christ Jesus. Rejoice that you have God’s word and the Holy Spirit to graciously and mercifully guide and strengthen you.

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