The author of Hebrews sounds like a track and field coach explaining the need for proper attire and the danger of unnecessary resistance as he writes, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1). The Christian life is not a sprint—it’s a marathon. Who dresses in long jeans and bulky leather shoes for a marathon?
Not only is it essential to dress appropriately for a marathon or even a short race on the track, it’s imperative that Christians are properly clothed for the Christian life. Unnecessary baggage that clutters life can hinder us, harm our relationships, and create distance between Christian friendships in the local church. Much more severe than unnecessary baggage is the “respectable sin” that is often ignored because—after all, it’s not murder, child abuse, or embezzlement. Jerry Bridges, in his excellent book Respectable Sins, writes:
Those of us whom I call conservative evangelicals may have become so preoccupied with some of the major sins of society around us that we have lost sight of the need to deal with our own refined or subtle sins. 
What sin are you overlooking in your life that could be holding you back from a God glorifying pursuit of holiness? That one sin has become your achilles heel. Not only does it dishonor God, but it hinders you from shining for God, from serving God, and from pursuing holiness. Below are many respectable sins that often fly under the radar, but they should not be overlooked or ignored. Their poison is deadly too.
Respectable Sins of our Evangelical Culture
- The Sin of Neglecting God (lack of desire for God’s Word, for prayer, for worship, for the local church)
- The Sin of Flattery
- The Sin of Lust
- The Sin of Materialism (quickly runs to idolatry)
- The Sin of Overworking (workaholic, neglecting family and the local church)
- The Sin of Impatience
- The Sin of Anxiety
- The Sin of Pride
- The Sin of Doubting God (results in a lack of prayer and respect for God’s character)
- The Sin of Sloppy Doctrine (embracing false interpretations or being content in perpetual ignorance)
There are many different examples of respectable sins that we often overlook because they aren’t on the same level as open adultery or murder—but they’re just as deadly. Interestingly enough, the small venomous snake is often more deadly because they inject their venom without any restraint when they bite their prey. Larger snakes hold back some venom for additional strikes depending on the size of the prey. This makes the young snake more dangerous. When it comes to respectable sins, they can often be more deadly because they’re often overlooked for years.
Think about how many years you have considered eating better or getting more focused on a workout schedule. Those dreams never turn into reality. How many years have you continued to allow certain sins to remain comfortable in your heart and life while cautioning yourself, your family, and your church family against the “big evil sins” like homosexuality, murder, and adultery?
Beware of the respectable sins because they’re extremely dangerous and not very respectable at all. If you’re walking in the forest and you come upon a small venomous snake—remember the small snakes are dangerous too. If you ignore a small venomous snake—it could cost you your life. When it comes to the Christian life—don’t overlook the small sins. They’re full of venom and they can hinder you from running the race of life for the glory of God.
- Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate, (Carol Stream, ILL.: Tyndale House, 2014), 9.
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