A few weeks ago, I shared the sad news that we suffered a miscarriage. Our tiny little baby, for some reason unknown to us, left us behind for the glory of Jesus Christ. Though incredibly happy knowing our child now rests at the feet of the King, our hearts grieved the loss of this being, still invisible to our human eyes. It may be easy for some to look at our situation and rationalize that little was lost. We couldn’t tangibly see this new addition to our family. Though there were many symptoms repeatedly reminding us that our child truly did exist, it could be rationalized that nothing much was really going on inside my body. To people around us, nothing visible had changed. But, even walking around secretly growing a tiny human, I knew that there was something going on inside and I was not alone in that. God was even more aware than I of the internal changes taking place.
In our lives, we have the luxury of hiding away sins and behaviors that are contrary to the things of God. Though it is possible for us to keep these things so well concealed that they are undetectable, there is still something undeniable going on in our lives that we are aware of and God is aware of. Our hidden sins, the things we think no one else can detect, are actively moving below the surface. They manifest themselves in every part of our lives meanwhile, blinding us to their devastating affects. These festering sins can be anything concealable from even our closest friends. An idol, an addiction, anger, hatred, disgust, bitterness, even self-abuse or self-hatred can go undetected for years before someone realizes something has changed. Hidden below the mask of calm, collected, and together, these things are lurking and infiltrating every part of our minds.
Unlike the incredible secret of growing a tiny human, secret sins drastically change how we see life. As the Casting Crowns song sings, “It’s the second glance that ties your hands as darkness pulls the strings,” we find ourselves initially attracted to an appealing “benefit” of a particular sin only to find ourselves bound by the shameful repercussions. C.S. Lewis elaborates on man’s struggle. He says
we have a strange illusion that mere time cancels sin. But mere time does nothing either to the fact or to the guilt of a sin.
Whether we want to admit it or not, often our approach to sin-natures deep within ourselves is to correct it tomorrow or later. Another time, perhaps it will be easier to part with, but instead we find ourselves digging a deeper hole into an abyss created by man to indulge the ugly things he’d rather not deal with. The truth of the matter is that owning up to what we have done, or continue to do, is not easy for anyone.
No one wants to admit to being addicted to pornography.
No one wants to own up to continual hatred and anger toward their spouse.
No one wants to share about their mental war attacking themselves.
No one wants to be vulnerable and open up about the secret things in their lives that are destroying the very essence of who they are. In fact, the sin in our lives may have been prevalent for so long that it has become a part of us. Suzanna Wesley, mother of 10 (including John and Charles) and devout follower of Christ defined sin as
whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes off the relish for spiritual things then it is sin for you, however, innocent it may be in itself.
Sin can come disguised as a lamb, only later to be revealed as a wolf (Matthew 7:15); an angel of darkness parading as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). We are under the impression that these hidden things don’t hurt us or anyone around us, but in fact, they affect the very core of who we are. These sins seep into our hearts, our responses, our priorities and cause us to focus on things we were not created to focus on. They cause us to prioritize others below our heart’s unholy desires. They affect our ability to love freely and give without restraint.
Secrecy, in and of itself, isolates us from the rest of the body, from people who truly want to help us walk closer to Christ, and diminishes our Spiritual strength. This disunity between us and the body of Christ is exactly what Satan wants. He desires to corner us, lie to us, and then squash us so we fall while thinking we were doing the right thing. It’s a pitfall that even men who once seemed mighty in the Lord have fallen prey to. We must be aware and constantly on the lookout for these sins. Why? Sin often presents itself as a good thing, something needed or beneficial, only to consume and destroy what Christ wishes to do in our lives. Christ’s plan for us still stands, but we must recognize the things we have accepted as truth to be evil in order to regain our footing on the narrow path.
Struggling with “secret sins” and things invisible to the eye is not a new problem. Even back in Leviticus, God dealt with these unknown sins through a special offering. The people were called to sacrifice for their unknown wrongs just as much as their known offenses. My favorite Psalm finds David on his knees before the Lord crying out for his own hidden sins. He writes:
But who can discern their own errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.
This broken, heartfelt cry is that the Lord forgive him for the things he had done; the things that he could not see, the things that could tarnish his ability to commune with the father. His passionate utterance for forgiveness rises heavily to the Lord Most High and he follows up this confession of sin with a power request.
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
It wasn’t enough to live with the secret offenses. Instead, David longed to be rid entirely of the evil in his life. He desired for the Father to do a work within him, enabling him to become even more holy, righteous, and pleasing in the eyes of God. Not simply with his thoughts or actions, but with every element of his being.
Allowing God to peel away the layers built around the hidden sins in our lives in a difficult thing. We have to be willing to allow the Lord to do a work in our lives, something that is ongoing and likely painful to experience. We aren’t handed a pass to “get out of sin” instantly. Instead, we are put through a long, tedious process of release, renewal, healing, and growth. The goal of this is that we come to a place where we allow God to use those secret offenses for his own glory.
God doesn’t toss us to the wayside because we harbor secret sins. Instead, he continually beckons us closer so that he might begin this painful process of ridding our lives of this offensive and invisible stone resting heavily at the center of who we are. We may not think our struggle with self-abuse, anger, or pornography is central to who we are, but allowing ourselves to give in reorders the priorities of our lives, ultimately changing who we are and how we view the world.
Today is not too late for you to turn around and run back toward God. The things in your life you are harboring, the sins you don’t want to reveal to anyone, are already known by him. He sees your innermost being and knows the meditations of your heart. He is calling you to come to him so he might transform you into a stronger follower of Jesus Christ.
Father God, forgive me for my secret sins. Search my heart. Cleanse me from all unrighteousness. Create in me a pure heart. Renew a right spirit in me. May the words of my mouth and meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight. My heart is willing, please come and transform me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.