Hidden Sin Is Rarely Only Hidden
As Christians, we understand the sincerity of sin. If your adolescent church experience was anything like mine, Romans 6:23 was on the VBS memory verse list every single summer. We know that “the wages of sin is death”. We also know that “God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ…” (Ephesians 2:4-5). My question is not, are we seeing sin as the wicked affront to God that it is? But ,knowing that sin is in fact that, are we using all of our resources to kill it?
One of the most devastating lies of the enemy is that you should keep your sin to yourself.
Proverbs 28:13 tells us, “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” No one accidentally keeps their sin a secret. Hidden sin is rarely just hidden, but shielded, protected and fortified deep within the darkest places of the heart. Its killing requires a full on assault. And Christian I urge you not to attack it alone. The enemy whispers to us that we should keep our sin to ourselves, and when we listen, he strips us of one of the most effective weapons for killing it.
Brothers and sisters, we need each other.
James 4:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” I have heard the argument for why we should confess our sins to one another this way, “we are commanded to do it, so we do it”. This reasoning is not false, we are commanded to confess our sin to one another. However, I believe this falls short to truly express what happens when we genuinely submit ourselves to this command. There are no commands in scripture that are there without purpose. They are a means to an end. And that end is our ultimate aim in life. To bring glory to God. All commands in the bible are meant to aid us in glorifying the God of our salvation. And the command to confess our sins to one another is no different.
Confessing our sins to one another strips our hearts bare, and reminds us of God’s ever flowing mercy.
When we keep our sin a secret we minimalize it. Often, we find loopholes to “justify” it, and we create excuses for why it happened. But like the sin itself, we wouldn’t dare voice these loopholes and excuses to others because deep down we know they are just as twisted and warped as the very act they are put in place to protect. This is done away with when we confess to another brother or sister in Christ. I still recall one evening when I was sitting with a friend on his front porch confessing to him my most recent lustful failure. (Just thinking about this encounter causes my bones to shake) As I finished up my confession, I raised my eyes from the ground, and I remember verbatim what he said to me, “I want you to know two things. First, know that Christ had to die for this. For this very sin, Christ had to go to the cross and die. And second, know that there is forgiveness and hope in that very same cross. Christ’s blood has still purchased you, and you are still forever his.” This wasn’t news to me, there was no light bulb that suddenly switched on. I already knew and believed everything he told me, but I still needed it. He told me the truth and it was personal to my sin. My sin was not minimalized, and I was given no excuses. He sincerely reminded me that there is nothing ok with the sin in my life. And then he pointed me to the hope that I have in the finished work of Christ. Ray Ortlund has a mantra at his Church Emmanuel Nashville, that mantra starts like this: “1. I am a complete idiot. 2. My future is incredibly bright.” This is what healthy confession looks like. Healthy confession reminds us that we are complete idiots, but our future is incredibly bright because of Jesus Christ.
I want to be clear about what I am not saying in this post. I am not saying to stand up in the middle of service Sunday morning and start confessing through a list of sins one by one. This would be unwise for many reasons. However, it is also unwise, and sinful to omit confession from our lives. Take advantage of gospel relationships within the local church. Praise God he has given us one another. It was the Puritan Thomas Watson who said: “til sin be bitter, Christ will not be sweet”. There has been no practice in my life that has successfully increased my personal bitter taste for sin than open and honest confession to a brother that will remind me of the good news of the Gospel.