Secret Sin: A barrier preventing true intimacy with God

by Nathan Bailey

God desires relationship, but requires integrity

God is both love and justice. He loves me and wants to have intimate relationship with me, but when I try to hide sin in my heart, His holiness cannot put up with my sin, and so our relationship suffers. There is nothing I can truly hide from Him, and His word promises that He knows and will deal with the hidden things in my life. Ultimately, He decrees that the sins I commit in private will result in publicly recognizable consequences.

The process of secret sin

Second Kings 17:9-18 gives an example of God's dealing with secret sin. Verse 9 speaks of Israel secretly (the word means: trying to cover, act covertly, protect or encase) doing things which were not right against the Lord their God. In verse 13, God warns the people to keep His commandments, but they (v14) stiffened their necks, entered into (v15) vanity, (v16) idolatry and (v17) witchcraft. As a result, God turns His face from them in anger (v18), and condemns them to exile (which means: uncover, remove, stark exposure, make named, to shame).

This passage clearly describes the process of secret sin. Man starts out secretly sinning against God -- perhaps intentionally, or perhaps unaware of his error. God then warns man to respond in repentance and live by His word. Instead, man chooses to harden his heart and become proud, entering into stubbornness (witchcraft) as he calls his ways higher (better) than God's (idolatry), i.e. that he knows better than the correction that has been supplied, and he is going to do his own thing.

In response, God condemns man to the consequences of his sin, in hopes that he will eventually respond and restore relationship with God. As a result, man's sin is exposed publicly and he is humiliated and embarrassed as he falls from his sinful pride. Hopefully, this brings man to a place where he can finally respond, as his illusions are shattered and he is confronted with the enormity of his sin. If not, however, then God will continue to increase the consequences (turn up the heat) (Psalms ??:?). Ultimately, however, if man remains stiff-necked after many rebukes, he will be destroyed suddenly (Proverbs 29:1)

The fear of discovery

The Bible constantly speaks of those who delight in evil and fear exposure (in John 3:20, this word means: refute, confute, rebuke, reprove -> confrontation). The Old Testament words, speaking of idolatry and exile often have the same root meanings as their New Testament counterparts, speaking of conceited opinions and imaginations and the resulting exposure and confrontation. Ecclesiastes 12:14 says that God will judge all that I do, the good and the bad, including every hidden deed. Continually, the Word assures us that God searches the hearts and tests the minds to reward according to our ways and deeds. (Jeremiah 17:10, 11:20, 20:12, Psalms 44:21, Proverbs 17:3, Romans 8:27, etc.)

A fearful precedent is set for those who scheme plans of hidden sin. Joshua 7 tells the story of Achan, who directly disobeyed the command of the Lord. He suffered the consequences of Jericho and it's inhabitants, because he sought to keep part of Jericho, which God had said should be totally destroyed. Similarly, Psalms 64:5-8 speaks of how God turns the hidden snares and schemes of the wicked against them. Thus, if I directly disobey God and plot acts of hidden sin against others, God will bring the consequences I intended for others against me!

A contrast is drawn, however, between those who willfully choose to commit their deeds in darkness, and then live in fear of being exposed, and those who seek relationship with the Father, and want anything hidden thing to be brought to the surface so it can be dealt with. The former are promised judgment, the later are encouraged to press in to God. What is a curse to the one is a promise unto the other. Proverbs 7:7-9 calls the first "simple, immature and lacking in judgment" as they walk in the dark, instead of being children of the light.

Protection from sin

To those who are children of light, the scripture promises an armour of light which is literally an offensive instrument of war (i.e. a weapon). Other scriptures exhort us to have nothing to do with darkness, but to expose such hidden deeds, and thus to enter in to self-control and get armoured up for battle. Conversely, then, when I dwell in hidden sin, not only do I lose some valuable protection which is also an offensive weapon, but I also lose my ability to control my submission to God and to defend myself against the attacks of the enemy (through faith, love and hope).

Expose your secret sins to a trusted leader or friend and enjoy the freedom!

Those who live in the promise can rejoice in the light exposing their secret sins, worshipping and thanking God for His awesomeness (Psalms 90:8, 1 Chronicles 28:9, 1 Corinthians 4:5, 1 Thessalonians 5:4-10). Jesus even promises it as part of the discipleship process, exhorting us not to fear man but God (Luke 12:1-12, Luke 8:16-18). Indeed, as a child of the light I should be part of the exposing process (Ephesians 5:8-21), and encouraging God to continue the process in me (Psalms 139:23, Jeremiah 20:12). Romans goes so far as to say that this openness to exposure is part of the process of becoming more than conquerors (Romans 8:27,37).

Proverbs speaks of the health and nourishment (body) and compassion and mercy (soul) which comes from confessing and forsaking sin (Proverbs 3:7-8, 28:13). Tying these passages together with 1 John 1:9, it can be seen that acknowledging and confessing my sin, and then repenting and forsaking my sin will resulting in a intimate love relationship with God.

Act now, and leave the bondage of secret sin!

Ultimately, therefore, choosing to live in secret sin keeps me bound in fear of man and separation from God. It even has physical and emotional/psychological consequences on my well-being. Conversely, living as a child of the light not only offers me a superior lifestyle of intimacy and love with the Father which grows, but it also supplies me with defensive and offensive protection against the attacks of the enemy, physically, spiritually and emotionally. To choose to live in secret sin is to choose to live in defeat and bondage, kept apart from God. I choose, however, to live in the light, enjoying, seeking after and even being a part of its exposing influence, to be a healthy and fruitful son.

Further reading

Read about overcoming sin , healthy sexuality or other essays on Christianity - covering hell, sex, drinking, gambling, smoking and tithing!

© Copyright 1997-2012, Nathan Bailey, All Rights Reserved. Permission is granted to print these articles for personal use, in whole or in part, provided the extract references the original URL,, so that people can find the latest version.
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