How To Keep Your Secret Sins From Taking You Out
Of all the unpopular truths in this world, I know of none less welcome than the one that’s been proved day after day in the news these past few weeks. Every sin takes you down, but your secret sins will take you out.
Everyone knows the real problem with Watergate wasn’t the break-in, it was the cover-up. Not long before he passed away, I asked Chuck Colson what he’d say to my daughter’s history class, which was studying the Watergate era. He answered, “I’d tell them that to this day, I have no idea why those two burglars were at the Watergate.” If Nixon and his team had opened up a lot sooner, they’d have gotten in a lot less trouble.
Secrets are like that. Still, we think we’re better off hiding our secrets. We don’t dare let on what we’re doing. The stigma would kill us.
A Living Death
That’s what one man told me once. It was in the late 1980s, and I was working HR for a global Christian mission agency. This person had applied for a ministry position. We’d accepted him based on a strong application and solid interviews with our staff where he lived.
But one day he called me at our headquarters and said, “I can’t stand the guilt any longer. I lied on my application. I’ve had sex with several men in the past few months.”
He knew that would disqualify him from our ministry. More than that, he knew that it was wrong; I didn’t have to persuade him of that. He was in severe emotional pain over it, and for good reason. So at one point in our long conversation, I said, “Wouldn’t it be a good idea for you to open up about this with someone who can help you, right where you live?”
He said, “I couldn’t do that. It would be death to me.”
I asked him, “Isn’t it already a lot like a living death?”
His answer came back slowly, reluctantly: “Well, yes. Actually it is.”
The Freedom of Life Lived In the Clear
I don’t know what he did. I never heard back from him. But around that time I did hear back from another applicant who’d owned up to a pornography problem six months earlier. He thanked me for our organization’s holding him accountable. He told me, “I’ve trashed all the magazines, I’ve asked my pastor to hold me accountable, I’ve entered into counseling, and I am so much more free now!”
The great error we make is to think, “First I’ll stop doing what I’m doing. Then I can own up to having had the problem.” But that works only rarely. As long as the sin remains in the dark, we’re prone to falling back into the dark. The route to getting rid of secret sins passes first through getting rid of the secrecy, then the sin, not the other way around.
So I implore you, for the sake of Christ and His kingdom, for yourself, for your family and your friends, for all those who look to you, if you’re harboring secret sin, open up and share it with the wise and gracious confidant who can help you repent and accept God’s healing grace.