The current Grace Magazine has an article of mine on secret sins. No original content here but readable and challenging I trust.
If you lift a stone in the garden you find all sorts of creepy crawlies underneath. Sin is a little like that.
What are secret sins?
Psalm 19:12 Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. It is not entirely clear what these hidden faults or secret sins are. Secret sins are the subject of the first part of a book by Obadiah Sedgwick (c 1600-1658), an exposition of verses in Psalm 19, first published in 1660. He says that such sins are
1. Not hidden from God
There is no such thing as a sin hidden from God. It is impossible to hide anything from him. Remember Adam and Eve vainly trying to hide from God and Cain failing to realise that the blood of Abel was crying from the ground. Many verses show this
Isaiah 29:15 Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the LORD, who do their work in darkness and think, Who sees us? Who will know?
Proverbs 5:21 … your ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all your paths.
Hebrews 4:13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
A children's catechism asks: Can you see God? Answer: I cannot see God but he always sees me.
2. But may be hidden from you
David may have in mind sins in his life he is not even aware of. It is possible to sin and not realise. In some situations you hear people use God's name thoughtlessly. You point it out but they often do not realise they have spoken God's name. An extreme example was Saul of Tarsus persecuting Christians thinking it pleased God. There are professing Christians who think they are serving God by pursuing a certain policy or lifestyle yet there is reason to think it is the opposite of what God wants. We need to recognise in all humility that we may sin at some point and not even realise. These sins also need to be forgiven.
3. Hidden from others
- Some are hidden because of how they are described. One way people try to hide sins is by disguises. People are pro-choice if they favour abortion on demand. They speak not of abortion but termination of a pregnancy. It is adult entertainment not pornography, having an affair not committing adultery, sexual liberation not unfettered lust. The word fornication has almost disappeared exist being covered by myriad euphemisms. Even for your prayers can in fact be gossip.
- Some are secret in the sense of being private. They are kept to a small circle of friends. You read of some politicians after the event and gain quite a different impression of their character. Sometimes people are outed when their private life becomes public knowledge. Gordon Brown was famously caught out when he commented adversely on a woman without realising his microphone was still active. Are you one person in public and another in private?
- Others are kept from all other human knowledge. Some sins are pretty much hidden from human view. The person who sins knows in his conscience he is sinning but pretends at least for that moment that they are not sinning or are unseen. Some sins are outward but occur when no-one else is around, others occur only in the mind and remain undetected for that reason. All sin, of course, begins there. Left to itself it will erupt like a boil and become visible. A child can be conceived but not born. So many sins die in the womb, as it were. Some deny that a foetus under 14 days is not human but it is. Sins that remain only in the heart are still sins. Sins that I hide, as best I can, from every other person, sins that remain only in my heart, are still sins.