04 October 2017

The Lie of 'Acceptable' Sins

Take heed of secret sins. They will undo thee if loved and maintained: one moth may spoil the garment; one leak drown the ship; a penknife stab and kill a man as well as a sword; so one sin may damn the soul; nay, there is more danger of a secret sin causing the miscarrying of the soul than open profaneness, because not so obvious to the reproofs of the world; therefore take heed that secret sinnings eat not out good beginnings.
— Jeremiah Burroughs
Secret sins are hidden, concealed from our family, friends, and church. They are nurtured in the quiet moments of our life, and the darkest corners of our heart. We often consider such covert transgressions to be pursuits of lust, such as pornography; however, it is far easier to conceal and cultivate more “minor” sins, such as envy, anxiety, pride, or selfishness.

This is because we often fail to even recognize these sins as sins. Says Jerry Bridges,
God has not given us the authority to establish values for different sins…All sin is serious because all sin is a breaking of God’s law.[1]
Just because we are tolerant of a particular “respectable” sin does not mean that it is not a serious breach of the law of God. So while we mourn over our visible, flagrant sins, we must also mourn over those sins that, though perhaps acceptable in a fallen world, are not acceptable before God.

The evangelical world is quick to act and speak against such blatant sins as homosexuality or abortion. We write blog posts, create statements to sign, and post memes on social media. But where is the creed that speaks against the selfishness that is growing in our own hearts? Where is the meme that calls us out on our impatience? Where is the blog post decrying our envious selves?

Over the next several weeks, we will examine some of these so-called “acceptable” sins and find that they are not acceptable at all—not before men, and certainly not before God.

We will also find that, though these sins afflict us and must daily be actively mortified, we are not alone in those efforts. Those who have been saved by God have been granted the great gift of the Holy Spirit, who indwells us and conforms us to the image of Christ by means of sanctification.

Finally, we will rediscover the gospel. When we are convicted of sin and come before the Lord in wholehearted repentance and admission of that sin, we need the assurance that our sin is forgiven. That assurance is found in the gospel of grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit! (Psalm 32:1–2)
As we embark on this study, I pray that you will be challenged, convicted, and encouraged, as I have been. When challenged, I pray you will ask God for the strength to execute whatever change is necessary; when convicted, I pray you will run to the Savior who forgives; when encouraged, I pray that you will offer Him praise for His mercy and grace.

Acceptable sins are not excepted. They are not exceptions to God’s law, and, better still, they are not exceptions to the gospel. Even "acceptable" sins can be forgiven.

1. Jerry Bridges, Sins We Accept (NavPress: Kindle Edition), Locations 36–37.


  1. This is so needed and I am looking forward to the lessons!

  2. Thank you for these messages. I've been too long busy with things of my "self."


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