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By Rev Colin Wong

Preached at / Published Life BPC Weekly, 2005-11-06

Text: Numbers 32:23

There is a phrase in the Bible many Christians do not want to read. This phrase has struck many a heart. As the writer to the Hebrews put it, God's Word, yea, even a phrase, "is quick and powerful and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12). This powerful, penetrating and conscience-striking phrase not only bothers us, but it also gives us many a sleepless night.

The phrase is found in Numbers 32:23 "Be sure your sin will find you out." We are instructed in the Holy Scripture to maintain the purity of the Body of Christ by not allowing sin to remain in our midst. At the same time, we also know that it is not possible to eradicate all sin in the church. However, just because sin is hidden from our eyes does not mean that it is a lesser sin. We must deal with it seriously and immediately because sin has a tremendous impact on one's self, family and most of all, the Church of Jesus Christ. 

What is Secret Sin?

Secret sin is not sin that you might have committed. This kind of sin is one where you know that you have violated the Law of God, but for one reason or another you have rationalized it away and have kept it secret. This kind of sin is one that is ongoing and usually requires a tremendous amount of cover-up or additional sin just to keep it secret. 

Secret Sin distorts the Character of God

Secret sin reveals a false understanding of the character of God. When we fall into sin, things are not as clear as when we are walking in fellowship with God (1 John 1:7). We are unable to see things clearly because sin has made things unclear to us. Our actions betray us. We say to ourselves: "Well, my spouse or friends aren't here. I am alone by myself in this foreign land. Nobody will see what I am doing. Nobody will find out about it. Therefore, I will eat, drink and be merry" (1 Corinthians 15:32). 

This kind of rationalization just reveals how much our thinking has been clouded by sin. Can we escape from the consequences of sin? The Bible tells us that God knows all things. There is nothing that is hidden from His eyes. He knows all the things we are thinking or doing. King David said, "O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether" (Psalm 139:1-4).

The omniscient God cannot be deceived nor does He fail to know all things. Our secret sins are "in the light of his countenance" (Psalm 90:8) and all things are naked and open to His piercing eyes (Hebrews 4:13). We are never out of sight from God. Therefore, let us do away the foolishness of Adam and Eve! (Genesis 3:8) Henry Smith rightly said, "Every clout (i.e. a piece of cloth) will cover our sores, but the finest silk will not cover our sins." 

Dearly beloved, we can never hide ourselves from the presence of a holy God!

Secret Sin begets more Sin 

Secret sin breeds additional sin. We have a good example in 2 Samuel 11. The Scripture tells us that this was a time when kings go out to battle, but David remained in Jerusalem. While he was walking on the roof of his palace, he saw a woman bathing. He lusted after her and committed adultery with her. Attempting to cover up his sin, he schemed and got the woman�s husband killed in the battlefield. 

Secret sin seems manageable in the beginning. However, when it is found out you have to lie to cover it up, and soon you have more things to juggle than you can keep up with. This kind of sin does not just happen on one fine morning. It is the result of a sustained practice of compromise. And the only way out of it is confession and repentance.

The Impact of Secret Sin

Nowadays, there is a culture that says, "I am only responsible for myself and for those things that I choose to be responsible for." The word is "Individualism." It is true that one must bear the responsibility of what one has done (Leviticus 19:22; 24:15; Galatians 6:7, 8). But the Scripture also tells us that sin not only affects the one who commits it, but it also affects one's family, one's community and most of all, the church of God (Proverbs 14:34).

The sin of Achan in Joshua 7 was no ordinary sin because it had affected the whole nation of Israel. God said, "There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel: thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you" (Joshua 7:13). Sin, indeed, has a tremendous impact on a nation. 

If sin is not dealt with, God will remove our candlestick. Edmund Calamy rightly said, "Let me persuade you to believe that the Gospel is not entailed upon England; England has no letters patent of the Gospel; the Gospel is removable. God took away the ark and forsook Shiloh, and He not only took away the ark, but the temple also. He unchurched the Jews, He unchurched the seven churches of Asia, and we know not how soon He may unchurch us." 

The Solution to Secret Sin

If you have been hiding sin in your life, you must confess it to God and turn away from it. If you have lied to someone or hurt someone with your unkind words, you must confess them to God and seek for forgiveness. Restitution must be made where damage of feeling has been done. 

God will not allow you to go unpunished. The Spirit of God will wake you up in the middle of the night to think about it. You may try to read the Word or pray to God, but the sin which you committed secretly will appear before you. You will feel miserable and restless. You will feel a heavy burden upon you. This is what happened to King David before he confessed his secret sins to God (Psalm 32:3, 4). 

Dearly beloved, today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). Confess your secret sin now. Do not try to ignore it. Do not try to persuade yourself that it will go away. Why don't you cry to the Lord, "Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight?" (Psalm 51:4). Why don't you plead with the Lord for forgiveness? Why wait for someone to confront you about it? (2 Samuel 12:12, 13) Do it quickly lest it affects you, your family and the Church of Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

Secret sins are more dangerous to the person in some respects than open sins. Therefore, take heed of secret sins and pray to the Lord to cleanse us from these undesirable sins (Psalm 19:12). Amen.

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

December 3 & 10 - Holy Living

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 2 Peter 3:11