Help for Identifying and Exposing Secret Sin
How many professing believers today standing in the pulpit, singing on the worship team, or sitting out in the pews lug around a host of unconfessed sins? Week after week they assemble together to exalt God, but they are weighed down, their spiritual backpacks crammed with all sorts of idols and other hidden sins. Pride. Rebellion. Unbelief. Bitterness. Anger. Unforgiveness. Laziness. Lying. Greed. Envy. Gluttony. Gossip. Lust. Adultery. Fornication. Homosexuality. Pornography. Masturbation. Drunkenness. Substance abuse. In Galatians 5:19-21, we’re told that “those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” That is a very serious consequence. So why aren’t many who profess the name of Christ quick to confess their sins and turn away from them? Does that describe you? Are you weighed down by secret or unconfessed sin?
Have You Become Accustomed to Carrying Around Your Pet Sins?
Are you ok with the “little foxes” which have nearly devastated your vineyards (Song of Solomon 2:15)? Sadly, these religious actors have become so smug and content with their walk with the Lord and their lives in this world that their extreme complacency shields them from the gentle, convicting voice of the Holy Spirit warning them to get their sin out. Obviously quite satisfied with their current spiritual progress, they don’t see their need to repent, nor do they even detect the weight of sin which has stagnated their walk with the Lord. They comprise a congregation of backslidden and lukewarm professors.
Do You Compare Yourself to Others to Justify and Minimize Your Sin?
Another group simply insists that they are not as bad as their neighbor. When they come under conviction, they are quick to say to themselves, “I don’t get drunk. I don’t do drugs. I’m not out sleeping around. I’m a good person. I love God, and He understands that no one is perfect.” Just like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, outwardly they are close to being squeaky clean. But the truth of the matter is that they are still very much given over to sinful attitudes in their hearts—the secret place where only God sees. Because of this heavy load, their spiritual growth is retarded, and their hunger and passion for God is practically on Empty. As long as the bar is raised no higher than their present level of mediocrity, they won’t ever achieve the spiritual momentum to soar like eagles (Isa. 40:31). Nor will they ever produce any substantial fruit for God’s Kingdom or experience the peace and abundant life in Jesus that God has for them.
Are You Hiding Behind a Mask of Hypocrisy?
Then there are those who, like King David after his adulterous affair and murderous plot (Ps. 32:3-4), are unwilling to bring their sin into the light. Needless to say, they are most miserable! While God’s hand presses down upon them, somehow they manage to erect thick self-protective walls to keep others from knowing who they really are. To further avoid exposure, they strive to keep up a good “Christian image” outwardly—while carrying their hidden sin around with them. They are so loaded down that they aren’t able to run the race to which they were called.
Despite their differences, each of the three groups described above are stuck spiritually under the weight of their unconfessed sin. But there is hope! Proverbs 28:13 describes accurately what you are likely experiencing - an inability to “prosper”. Your sins are handicapping you from the abundant life Jesus desires for us. But continuing reading the Proverb, and you are given the opportunity to break free from the burden of sin you’ve been carrying.
“He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” (Prov. 28:13)
Begin with Repentance
In each case there is only one way of escape: Repentance. Sinners can bring their heavy burdens to the One who bore their sins on the old rugged cross. Jesus Christ, our blessed Savior, took upon Himself the sin of the whole world. Imagine the tremendous weight He joyfully bore for wretched sinners like us so that sin would no longer have dominion over us (Rom. 6:14)!
True repentance involves more than admitting one’s guilt. It involves brokenness and godly sorrow leading to a willful turning away from sin to obey and please the Lord (2 Cor. 7:10). Because of the finished work of Christ at Calvary, every weight can be lifted off of a repentant sinner once such a genuine confession before God has been made.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
To avoid becoming weighed down by sin, our daily prayer should be, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way” (Psalm 139: 23-24).
Stay in God’s Word
Secondly, spending time in the Word of God each day, studying and meditating on Truth, will make us available to the conviction of the Holy Spirit and keep us in the light (Psalm 119:105). It will direct us to lay “aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save [our] souls” and will help us to be doers of the Word, rather than mere hearers who only go into spiritual delusion (James 1:21-22).
Always Respond to Conviction
Lastly, whenever the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin either through the Word, through a sermon, or directly through a person, we must be quick to repent. That is, we agree with God that the sin He’s exposed in our heart is sin, and then we immediately turn away from it back to our Redeemer.
No Christian need go one day longer bearing the guilt and shame of unconfessed sin. You don’t have to. You need only bring your sin out into the light, nail it on the Cross, and get back on the Straight and Narrow. Then you will soon discover the joyous liberty that Christ purchased on Calvary.
Brad Furges worked for Pure Life Ministries from 1999 to 2015, the last seven years of which he served as Director of Men’s Counseling. Brad holds a B.A. from the University of Virginia (UVa) and an M.A. in Biblical Counseling from Master’s Divinity School.
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