I am so pleased to be finally reviewing this book written by the late Jerry Bridges. It has left quite an impression on me, as I believe it will on you as well. This is the very first book I will be reviewing on this blog, but there will be much more to come. Since I have resolved to read more in 2018. There are far too many awesome biblically-sound Christian books in the marketplace, for me not make use of the gifts and wisdom of my fellow siblings in Christ.
I found this gem of a book in my local Salvation Army. If you are looking to read more books but your budget is tight, thrift stores are a great place to start at. This little paperback book even has an inscription, apparently, it was a gift to someone, it reads:
This book is a must for the youth pastor’s life. It’s heavy, but it’s very true!
Your friend forever, Mike.
Mike was right it is indeed very heavy, but also completely helpful. I’ve first heard about this book by the wonderful Jackie Hill Perry. She’s a wife, a mother and a poet living in Atlanta. The Gospel Coalition does this feature where they ask different Christians what they’ve read in the past, what they plan on reading and what books do they tend to re-visit. Since I’ve read that article I’ve wanted to read this book. So you can imagine how tickled I was to find in the Salvation Army for 0.50 cents (it was Wacky Wednesday).
This book entered my life at the perfect time. I’ve spoken about this before here and here. But I was struggling to be optimistic about overcoming a particular besetting sin in my life. I was questioning if it was even possible to live a life that would be pleasing to God’s eyes. I knew the Bible says that God has given me all I need pertaining to life and godliness, but I felt inept to pursue godliness or holiness. Mr. Bridges put my emotions in the form of words. Until I read through this book, I could only feel these feelings and not yet express them.
The most incredible thing about this book to me is the fact that it is far more encouraging than it is condemning, but it is very convicting! Jerry found a way to show his readers that while it was our responsibility to pursue holiness and to put off the old self with its sinful desires, that God in His supreme knowledge and mercy has made provisions for this effort of ours. In other words, you won’t walk away from this book feeling any worse than you already feel. Until I opened this book, holiness to me was some far off, out of my personal reach wonder. It seemed so difficult to attain and previously made me feel as if God was totally unfair to expect this of me, to expect this of us.
As I stated before this is not a book that brings shame, but it reminds us that God is holy and we can be like Him. In this book, Jerry writes about the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of each and every believer. How the Spirit creates within us desires for holiness and also points out the sins hidden in our hearts. So we all feel this pang to be like God, but we also see how we are nothing like Him. He writes that too often we feel crushing despair because of these things that are polar opposites.
Jerry Bridges also does write in this book about sin and temptation in the life of the believer. And guides us into how to get at the root of our sinful desires so we can cut it off from there. He also speaks about how the pursuit of holiness requires perseverance, and that even when we fail, we should never give up.
I’d like to end this post by sharing some of my favorite quotes from this book:
- “Our first problem is that our attitude toward sin is more self-centered than God-centered. We are more concerned about our own “victory” over sin than we are about the fact that our sins grieve the heart of God. We can not tolerate failure in our struggle with sin chiefly because we are success-oriented, not because we know it is offensive to God.” (Page 20)
- “God wants us to walk in obedience – not victory. Obedience is oriented toward God; victory is oriented toward self.” (Page 21)
- “Will you begin to look at sin as an offense against a holy God, instead of as a personal defeat only?” (Page 24)
- “In the deceitfulness of our hearts, we sometimes play with temptation by entertaining the thought that we can always confess and later ask for forgiveness. Such thinking is exceedingly dangerous.” (Page 33)
- “The Holy Spirit makes us more aware of our lack of holiness to stimulate us to deeper yearning and striving for holiness. But Satan will use the Holy Spirit’s work to discourage us.” (Page 48)
- “Many Christians have a basic desire to live a holy life but have come to believe they simply cannot do it. They have struggled for years with particular sins or deficiencies of character. While not living in gross sin, they have more or less given up on ever attaining a life of holiness and have settled down to a life of moral mediocrity with which neither they or God are pleased. The promise of Romans 6:6-7 seems impossibly beyond them. The strong commands of Scripture for them to live a consistently holy life frustrates them.” (Page 53)
- “We may not like the fact that we have this lifelong struggle with sin, but the more we realize and accept it the better equipped we will deal with it.” (Page 62)
- “We need to reckon in the fact that we have died to sin’s reign, that it no longer has any dominion over us, that God has united us with the risen Christ in all His power, and has given us the Holy Spirit to work in us.” (Page 85)
- “And we don’t like the idea that we have to struggle with sin. We want instant victory.” (Page 107)
- “At first it seems we are making no progress, so we become discouraged and think, “Whats the use! I can never overcome that sin!” That is exactly what Satan wants us to think.” (Page 105)
- “Lastly, don’t be discouraged by failure. There is a vast difference between failing and becoming a failure. We become a failure when we give up – when we stop trying. But as long as we are working on those sinful habits, regardless of how often we fail, we have not become a failure, and we can expect to see progress.” (Page 136)
As you have read I emphatically recommend this book to anyone who wants to share in God’s divine nature. Pick up your own personal copy of this book. But, I’m interested in what book or books do you recommend reading? And what books do you plan on reading in 2018? Drop me a comment below.