The Long Black Train


There’s a long black train,
Comin’ down the line,
Feedin’ off the souls that are lost and cryin’,
Rails of sin, only evil remains
Watch out brother for that long black train”
– Josh Turner

One book I’ve had on my list for a long time is Jerry Bridges’ “Respectable Sins”. Written just last year, Dr. Bridges tackles a long list of what he terms “respectable ” or “acceptable” sins. Most of these won’t be found in the Ten Commandments, but they are serious just the same.

I was hoping to post about each chapter but I’ll probably just deal with a handful of Dr. Bridges’ list. He outlines almost twenty of these sins in just under 200 pages ! Judgmentalism, worldliness, impatience (my favorite !), irritability, and frustration are among those he covers. I’m about 1/2 way through it now and can’t remember squirming in my seat this much while reading a book since I read John MacArthur’s “Hard To Believe” last year.

First up on Bridges’ list is the sin of ungodliness. What caught me off guard about this was the unexpected way that Bridges described what being ungodly looks like. In my mind, I assumed it was a specific action or behavior that could be tied into any number of sins. But Bridges suggests that instead, it’s a thought process – or lack of one. We can spend time in prayer or our Bible in the morning, and then live the rest of the day as if God doesn’t exist.

Here’s Bridges (p. 55):

“It’s not that we are living obviously sinful lives; it’s just that we seldom think about the will of God and, for the most part, are content to avoid obvious sins.”

How true this is ! The “obvious sins” that Bridges talks about seem so blatant in others and can make us think they’re the ones who are ungodly, but Bridges feels that living our lives each day without constant looking upward towards Him makes us just as ungodly. I had never thought of “being ungodly” in that way. And unfortunately, I could see myself in his description.

When I first heard Josh Turner sing “Long Black Train” with Randy Travis on a TV show, I pictured those “obvious sins”, the real big ones that seem easy to spot and avoid. But as Dr. Bridges points out again and again, the long black train sometimes is much bigger than we all realize.

But you know there’s vict’ry in the Lord I say,
Vict’ry in the Lord,
Cling to the Father and His Holy Name,
And don’t go ridin’ on that long black train”

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