This article builds on “Hidden Sins, Part One,” which was written previously (August 24, 2012). I forgot to post Part Two, so here it is. The next question to be asked is: What are the results of “hidden sins,” and what can we do about it?
- It results in dishonesty with self. King David was seeking to rise above this sinful situation and lead a life as if nothing happened. Before long, he was not above any sin. This is not an effective way to live. As Proverbs reminds us, “Be certain that your sin will find you out.”
- It inevitably leads to more sin. One must do whatever it takes to maintain the “hiddenness” of the sin. Anything that leads to the possibility of exposure must be destroyed. Sin builds upon sin in order to accomplish this. Once the sin is exposed, the previous deception is usually devastating to relationships when others see the lies that were fabricated to “hide” the sin.
- It leads to inner turmoil. I do not know about you, but a life of “my body wasted away” and “groaning all day long” is not inviting to me. However, repentance, leading to a “peace that passes all understanding” or being “blessed” is very inviting.
- It often leads to encouraging others to participate in the deception and sin. David has to bring Joab into the deception and sin as he seeks to destroy Uriah. The goal becomes: whatever threatens the hiddenness of the sin must be destroyed. No one or thing can get in the way.
- One’s focus of living is not giving to others (i.e., directing the energies of one’s soul toward others) but rather protecting self (i.e., directing the energies of one’s soul toward self). In other words, the person is not free to love others because his energies are expended in protecting the hidden realities of his life. One cannot be free to love others while living in fear that they might find out about the hidden sin. The primary goal becomes not to love others, but rather to maintain the hiddenness of the sin. Self-preservation becomes the primary passion and focus in life.
Our Necessary Response
What needs to happen if we have “hidden sins?”
- We need a good community of believers to walk with in this life. We must “fight for one another’s holiness.” We need a “Paul,” a “Barnabus,” and a “Timothy” in our lives.
“Paul”: This is an older person, one who has spiritual maturity and is further down the road in life than us, who can impart wisdom to us as we seek to find our way through life.
“Barnabus”: This is a peer, one who is growing spiritually alongside of us and in a similar place in life, who can encourage us even as he or she has similar experiences as we both seek to find our way through life.
“Timothy”: This is a younger person, one who does not have the life experiences or the spiritual maturity that we have, who needs the wisdom that we can offer as he or she seeks to find the way through life.
These relationships will give us the breadth of relationships we need in life. Our “Paul” is calling forth from us a more vital spiritual life. He coaxes us to places we do not yet know. Our “Barnabus” is encouraging us to stay the course as a faithful man as we share life together. He is shoulder to shoulder with us, reminding us that we are not in this battle alone. Our “Timothy” encourages us to stay the course because we want to provide him an example and keep him encouraged in following us as we follow the Lord. He looks to us to be strong for him and show him where to put his next step as he tries to figure life out.
- We need to confess hidden sins to the Lord. This is the key for King David in Psalm 51. The Lord grants him renewed joy in his life. This can be true for us as well. 1 John 1:9 teaches us that confession leads to forgiveness and cleansing. Our primary focus in this life should be to be growing in love for God. We grow in this love by keeping our hearts clean before him.
- We need to be in the word of God on a regular basis. The word of God is a mirror to our souls. It guides us in the path of life and into a manner of living that is pleasing to the Lord. This can never be minimized in our lives. We need to regularly, if not daily, be re-orienting ourselves back to the Lord. Constant reminders of his purposes in this world by reading his word keep us focused on things above, not things on the earth (cf. Colossians 3:1-4). The more we see his beauty, the less attractive the cravings of our flesh will be. The battle is difficult enough that we should not neglect the source of our sure foundation.
- We need to confide in our “Paul” or “Timothy” so that we can have others encouraging us along the way as we struggle with sin. As members of the same body, we are not simply sharing about our sins, we are asking forgiveness for sins and for prayer for strength to maintain purity. In a sense, we are asking another to “fight” for our holiness because we desire to keep ourselves and the body of Christ pure.
As a caution, be careful with what is shared, not to protect yourself, but to protect the body of Christ. Sin is not to be celebrated. We do not need to spend time rehearsing the ugliness of sin. Only share what is pertinent. Too much information can prove to be a stumbling block to another. Complete openness is not always loving, especially openly sharing all things with one’s spouse. Even in our openness, our focus is always to be on the other. We must always be asking, “Would this be loving to share with my brother or sister in Christ?” However, we do need someone who “will go to the mat” with us and fight through our stuff. The focus is to be centered on celebrating the good news of the cross of Christ. The beauty of the gospel deserves our primary attention. The antidote to “hidden” sins is not catharsis, but rather knowing that you are “free” to tell all because you are “walking in the light” in celebration of the overwhelming mercy of God poured out on you in the cross.
For this relationship, I am not a fan of calling it an “accountability” group. The Bible says very little about being accountable to other Christians. We are accountable to God. The Bible’s emphasis is for us to “submit to one another in the fear of Christ.” I guard myself from sin, not because I am accountable to another, but rather because I am submitting myself to the other in order to maintain the purity of the body for the glory of Christ and the honor of his name. We fight against sin for the glory of our heavenly Father, not our accountability to another brother in Christ, but we fight it together.
We need the encouragement of others. We need to walk together as we seek to be faithful. Perhaps these words can be of encouragement to you and keep you on the path to maturity.