I stood in my kitchen feeling the uneasiness of my young friend. It was obvious that there was something the young man was not telling me. He had a look about him. A fear that he would be rejected. A slight, almost indiscernible trembling in his demeanor. He wouldn’t look up. I knew what it was. I knew the stance. I had felt the fear and shame of hiding my sin from others. I knew the fear of exposing my wickedness to Christians, even those who were kind and gentle. I also knew the freedom of exposure.
I looked the young man in the eyes and said, “how long have you struggled with (this particular issue)?” He was shocked that I knew. His response was clear and direct. He answered me honestly and we were able to talk through his struggle.
Many of us are in the same place that young man in my kitchen was. We feel a need to hide our sins out of view from the community of faith. Perhaps we are afraid we will loose our prestige. Perhaps we are afraid we will be looked down on. Or maybe we just want to hold on to our sin a little while longer. It would probably surprise most people to know that pastors are no different. Transparency is not easy to come by and the fear of rejection is often crippling. I have watched as many of my fellow pastors hide sins from their congregations. They preach with great tenacity against sin on Sunday and then expend copious amounts of energy hiding their own failures.
In Joshua 7, Achan is caught after hiding some forbidden treasures under his tent. He attempts to hide his sin. Slowly and methodically his sin is uncovered by the Lord of Hosts through miraculous circumstance. He has multiple chances to come forward and repent, but chooses to hide. This is his response after he has been caught:
And Achan answered Joshua, “Truly I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I did: when I saw among the spoil a beautiful cloak from Shinar, and 200 shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, then I coveted them and took them. And see, they are hidden in the earth inside my tent, with the silver underneath.” – Joshua 7:20-21
Note the pattern here: Achan answers Joshua, “I saw… I coveted… I took… I hid…” This is the process we all go through when we sin. First we see it, then we want it. Our desire overwhelms, so we take it. At the realization of what we have done, we hide it. There is no joy in this. There is only shame! What good does secret sin do for us? Forbidden lusts that are hidden under tents only serve to rot our innermost thoughts and hearts. They are turmoil to our souls. “What fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed?” -Romans 6:21
When that young man stood in my kitchen I was able to tell him my struggles as well. I gave counsel to him and let him know he was okay. We began a process of walking through life together as brothers in arms. The truth is that we all struggle with sin, it just so happens that your struggles are sometimes more evident than mine and vise versa. But the grace of Jesus Christ has covered mine, and it can cover yours. We fear the condemnation that may come from others. What we ought to fear is the condemnation of the Lord. If we trust Him with our salvation, why not with our sins and our hearts. Indeed, it will hurt to confess… cleansing out sin always hurts a little. But if we let it fester, it will consume us. Besides, confession of sins to each other is commanded. (James 5:16)
So I offer you an open invitation. Don’t hide your sin like Achan does. His end is death under a pile of rocks… Instead of hiding our sin under our tents, let’s find a community of believers who will walk through our struggles with us and engage in war against sin along side us. Find people who will ask you honest questions without condemnation. (Romans 8:1) Achan carries all his sin to the judgement and in the end he remains only a rotting corpse buried under the weight of his sin. But Jesus died so that you wouldn’t have to suffer the same fate as Achan. You don’t need to continue to hide your sin, Jesus paid the price for it. Bring it out from under your tent and expose your soul to the cleansing grace of Christ.
If you do not have a community like this, we are working hard to build one where I live. Come join us at Sovereign Grace Fellowship in Brazoria at 10:30 Sunday mornings. We meet in the Brazoria Civic Center Conference room. (There is a map on the important documents tab at the top of this page) We all have struggles, let’s make war on them together.