Man silhouetted in front of window in a dark room

If You Cover Your Sin, You Will Not Prosper

"He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy." Proverbs 28 :13

James woke up, his leg throbbing. He struggled to remember what had happened.

"Oh, that's right," he thought.  He had been robbed, beaten, and thrown into an alley.

In a moment of rare self-reflection, he asked himself, "How did my life get here?" He began to sob.

Stories like James' are tragic. The devastation of a human life always elicit compassion from tender-hearted men and women.  But the real tragedy is not that James had destroyed his life, but the fact that it never had to be that way.

Over and over again, James had chosen to conceal sin. He had repeatedly and deliberately kept things hidden which should have been exposed, and in greater and greater degree, his life bore out of the truth of Proverbs 28:13. "Those who conceal their sins shall not prosper."

<pull-quote>The tragedy is not that James had destroyed his life, but the fact that it never had to be that way.<pull-quote><tweet-link>Tweet This<tweet-link>

When James was 13, he was like any other normal boy. He loved to play sports with his friends, prank his little sister, and horse-play with his father. He skiied in the winter, swam in the summer, played soccer in the fall. He was a nice boy to be around, and many people spoke well of him.

At age 14, the Internet came into his home. His parents were naïve, and were unaware of the dangers. James would spend his nights surfing the web, looking at professional soccer player's stats, and playing games online.

One day, he noticed an ad in one of the forums that he frequented that said, "Click here for erotic stories." He knew he shouldn't, but he was curious. With heart racing, he clicked. For hours that night, James read stories of people having sex. That night he discovered masturbation.

The next morning, he felt overwhelmed by guilt because of what he had done. He knew that he should tell his dad, but the shame was deep. He chose to ignore the warnings of his conscience, and to conceal his sin. If James had confessed at that moment, the venom of the serpent's bite would have been expelled, and the life of James would have been very different. Instead, he cleared the history on the computer, told his father he had slept really well, and walked out the door.

For the next 5 years, James was led down a path that grew deeper and darker than he had imagined. Stories turned to pictures. Pictures turned to short clips. Short clips turned to porn site subscriptions.

He had opportunity after opportunity to come clean with his sin, and to forsake it. But each time the opportunity came, he concealed his sin and bypassed the road to repentance and restoration. He chose the temporary comfort of darkness, instead of the pain of exposure.

<pull-quote>He bypassed repentance and chose the temporary comfort of darkness, instead of the pain of exposure.<pull-quote><tweet-link>Tweet This<tweet-link>

Once, James was preparing to watch pornography on his smartphone in the privacy of his bedroom. He accidentally played a video before he had his headphones in. The sounds of sex blared from his phones speakers. He panicked, and clicked out of the video. He waited in silence, hoping desperately that no one in the other room heard.

His mother came to the door, and knocked. "James, what are you doing?"

"I am just reading, Mom." he lied.

"What were those noises coming from your bedroom?"

"My bedroom? No, that was coming from the neighbor's house. I heard a bunch of people laughing and screaming for a couple of seconds. Something must have happened."

James' pornography use became more and more frequent, which required him to lie more often in order to keep his secret life hidden from everyone around him.

Every time he lied, the noose tightened around his neck.

In his mid 20's, he met a girl and they were engaged within a year. During marriage counseling, the pastor asked him specifically if there was any history of pornography or sexual immorality. James had grown so accustomed to lying, he didn't even flinch. "Absolutely not," he said. His fiancée beamed with joy.

Although he secretly hoped that his pornography use would end once he got married, he soon found out that nothing changed with the exchanging of vows. He had the same heart, and his heart desired pornography. If he had to lie to his wife for the rest of his life, he was determined to do it.

He had an extra smartphone that he paid with a private account. When he was away on business, he paid for it was a credit card she didn't know he had. He would sneak it when he went to the bathroom. Sometimes she wondered why he took so long. "Just reading, darling" was always his response.

One kid arrived, then two, then three, then four. He became increasingly more disconnected from the family. His wife was worried, then frustrated, then suspicious. "What's going on?" she demanded to know.

More lies. More excuses. Work problems. Stress. Always tired.

Again the sin was concealed. Again the cancer remained, spreading throughout his soul, infecting every part of his life.

Eventually, James' sin found him out. A colleague who happened to be a Christian saw James watching pornography in his car in the office parking lot. Since James professed to be a Christian, he confronted him.

James confessed. Sort of.

He admitted to looking at pornography, said he had been having a rough time at work. "Difficult family stuff. I know I shouldn't do it, I guess this was the wrong way to deal with it.”

The colleague nodded his head, and offered to pray for James.

The same thing happened a month later. Again, he was confronted. This time he admitted that he had been "struggling off-and-on for a while now." When he was asked direct questions about the intensity and frequency of his sin, James gave half-truths. But his colleague gave James the benefit of the doubt, and again said he would be praying for him.

A year later, he was caught again. This time, his colleague required him to talk to his wife about this. James grew angry, said it was none of his business. Once he calmed down, he agreed to talk to his wife.

James' "confession" came the next day. He finally mustered up the strength to tell his wife that they needed to talk. When they sat down together, he said, "Honey, I have been watching pornography."

His wife burst into tears, then boiled into a rage. She screamed at him, "How could you!?! For years I have been asking you if anything was wrong. I knew something was wrong!!"

He let her continue until she was too exhausted to yell any more. With blood-shot eyes she looked up at him and said, "Tell me everything."

For the next ten minutes, James told half-truths, vague stories and sugar-coated details. He told her he had looked at a lot of porn, but didn’t tell her it had been going on before they were even married. He told her that he had spent some money on porn, but never told her about the credit card and personal accounts.

The marriage suffered incredibly, but days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months. James constantly had to fight against the conviction that he should tell everything. Eventually, his conscience, having suffered enough, stopped speaking.

The next ten years were like a living nightmare. James’ wife began to hound him relentlessly, monitoring everything he did, interrogating him whenever he went anywhere. Because she was constantly on guard, she caught him more and more often.

Every time he told her this would be the last time, that it had never been this bad. The serpent, Satan, was always willing to show James the painful road that lay ahead if he confessed everything to his wife. Tragically, James couldn’t see the eternity of pain and misery that was waiting for him if he wouldn’t confess.

Finally, James’ wife had had enough. He came home from work one day, and the house was empty. His wife had thrown his stuff into the front yard, changed the locks and gone to her mother’s in another state. A note on the front door said, “I never want to see you again.”

James’ life spiraled. He threw himself into sin more than ever. Soon he drank and did drugs to numb the pain. Anything to forget what his life had become.

One night, on his way to a strip club, he was robbed, beaten and thrown into an alley. The next morning he experienced a rare moment of self-reflection, and contemplated where to go from there.

What will become of James’ life? I honestly don’t know. It depends on whether or not he will confess and truly forsake his sin.  

If he continues to cover his sins, according the spiritual law revealed in Proverbs 28, he will not prosper. The cancer of sin will continue to ravage his heart, soul and life. He will reap more and more consequences of sin, and eventually will suffer eternally.

But, equally as true is the rest of that verse. “He who confesses and forsakes will find mercy!” What a wonderful promise. This is a glorious truth in the Word of God for any man who has destroyed his life by concealing his sexual sins. There is a way out.

The truth is, it’s up to you.

Nate holds a Bachelor’s degree in History from Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, PA. After college he worked both as a worship leader and also as a counselor at a residential treatment facility for juvenile sex offenders. He has served in our Media Department since he came on board in 2009.

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