Hidden Sin

This entry is part 60 of 70 in the series Holiness Matters

Did you ever notice something that drove you nuts about somebody else? Every once in a while I will notice something that bothers me about somebody else. Every time they do it or I perceive it in them, I notice. It’s almost like it’s screaming at me.

We all have things about ourselves that other people notice and we don’t. It takes others seeing these things in us and letting us know about them before we can do anything to change them. A lot of times we notice in others the same faults we have in ourselves.

There is an interesting passage in the Bible where the psalmist asks God to declare him innocent from his hidden sins and faults. But are these things he doesn’t realize about himself or things that are hidden from him in his character? Let’s take a look at this fascinating verse in the Bible.

Keeping It under Wraps

This verse in the Psalms, Psalm 19:12, is the desire of the psalmist to not displease the Lord. All of Psalm 19 is about how God reveals himself to us. The beginning of the Psalm talks about how creation speaks of God. It’s the external evidence we see of him. It’s his works, profound to us.

But then the rest of the Psalm focuses on God’s internal witness of himself to us through the law. The law enlightens us on the sin in us (Romans 7:7). It helps us to discern all of the faults and sins within ourselves. It exposes our sin to us.

It’s in this context that the psalmist asks God to declare him innocent from his “hidden sins.” The law helps us to understand things in us that don’t please God. But it’s interesting that he uses the phrase “hidden sins.”

Some translations use the word “faults” instead of sins. But the interesting thing is that the original word in Hebrew does not mention faults or sins. The word just means “hidden.” But because of the reaction of the psalmist to ask God to declare him innocent of these things, we understand them to be some kind of negative aspect in us.

If we’re talking about hidden sins, we might be referring to when theologians call sins of omission. There are two types of sins, sins of commission and sins of omission. Sins of commission we are much more familiar with. These are the sins we know we commit. Our conscience and God’s law condemn us on the spot when we do them.

Sins of omission are those things we should be doing that we don’t do. We may or may not be aware that were not doing them. We need someone or something to tell us if we are not doing these things.

God’s law and Word tell us everything that God expects of us. If we don’t have the law we don’t know what God expects of us. This is exactly what happened in the Old Testament. God gave his laws, special revelation of his expectations, to the Israelites. The Gentiles had no idea what God expected of them.

Each of us has a conscience, but it only convicts us based on a moral code that we think we are following. If we don’t have God’s law, we make our own, or develop it with a social consensus. We may or may not be doing what God expects of us.

All of these things factor into understanding what the psalmist is talking about when he talks about things in us that displease God. He asks God to declare him innocent of the hidden things that displease him.

It might help to get a wider context as we look at the verses around it. The beginning of the verse asks another question, “Who can discern his own errors?” It seems that the psalmist is concerned with the parts of his person and character that he doesn’t know whether or not they please God.

As I said, the law helps us to see what God expects of us. It is like a mirror that we put up to our character, thoughts, intentions, motives, and heart. These are the things that no one else can see but us. The things we do inside that no one sees, the thoughts we have, our motives and intentions for how we act, and the deep part of our spirits and souls that only God can see.

We are responsible for these before God. No one else can judge us for them. It’s only when we speak of them or act upon them that people can even tell what they may have been. We can understand a little bit better these hidden things in us as we look at the verses below this one in Psalm 19.

The psalmist mentions presumptuous sins, those parts of us that are arrogant and insolent. These are the things we think we have the right to do. We don’t ask God if there what he wants us to do if they even honor him.

This is getting down to the nitty-gritty of our character. The psalmist is begging God to deal with the parts of him that no one else sees. These are the foundations of who he is. Many of us ask God to forgive us of our sins, by which we usually mean the things that other people know we do because they see us doing them.

But how many of us are so in tune with the heart of God that we ask him to expose and change the parts of us that displease him deep down inside? The things we could get away with because nobody else knows about them but us. This is how deeply we want to please God.

God and Our Secrets

Another verse, Psalm 90:8, talks about how God is angry with Israel because of their secret sins. Once again, “sins” is added because of the context. The line above it talks about iniquities that are set before the Lord. The context is clearly speaking of secret things within us.

Even if no one else can see the secret character flaws and sins within us, God sees them. Are there little things we hold back and don’t give over to him? Like the psalmist, Job also asks God to teach him what he doesn’t see in himself (Job 34:32).

Whether we know about these secret and hidden things in us or we find out about them because of God’s Word as it exposes them, we must turn them over to Jesus. We can only have one master, and it must be the Lord Jesus.

If there are other parts of us that other people can’t see, he can still see them. Jesus won’t share the throne of our hearts. We can’t call him Lord and say, “No” to him because of these other things in our character.

If we don’t know some of the flaws in us or the sins that we harbor against God, those little things we keep to ourselves and think we have hidden and are secret from everyone, our hearts should be to expose them and allow God to eradicate them.

We don’t want to harbor any sins or character flaws that displease the Lord. We want to get rid of them so we can follow him without keeping anything back. The sins we think we have hidden away are mastering us. They are in charge because we let them stay. Paul by the Spirit calls us to not let sin reign in our mortal bodies (Romans 6:12).

Exposing Hidden Sin

I love the heart of the psalmists in several places of Scripture. Returning to Psalm 19, he ends the entire Psalm by expressing his desire to be pleasing and acceptable before the Lord (Psalm 19:14).

He asks the Lord that the words of his mouth be pleasing to him. But he goes even deeper than that, asking for the meditations, or the groans of his heart, to also please the Lord. He doesn’t want anything to be hidden.

This is a brand-new type of vulnerability. And it’s the hardest road to take. But it makes us genuine before God. Having nothing to hide can be the most freeing thing we ever do. But it’s also hard to give up those secret things inside of us we can hide away from others.

Paul talks in the New Testament about exposing the darkness everywhere we see it (Ephesians 5:11). Because we walk as children of light, we have no part in anything that is darkness. We expose these things not only in the world but also in ourselves.

As I said before, it’s not easy for us to expose these things, especially in ourselves. It requires the same steps we took when we came to Christ. We must first confess it as it is exposed in us, whether through the observation of others, God’s Word, or God’s Spirit speaking to us about these issues.

Confession is hard for us because it opens up that place of vulnerability. Other people see deep inside of our souls through confession. It is an intimate and vulnerable place many of us are uncomfortable with. But it is the only way to experience victory.

If we truly wish to be free in Jesus, we must confess hidden sins within ourselves. We must lay these sins and character flaws that displease God as his altar. We must let his Spirit search the depths of our soul and spirit. It’s a painful experience, but it brings freedom and victory.

The best part about confession is that we know Jesus forgives us (1 John 1:9). Jesus doesn’t let us wonder if we’re still part of his kingdom. The Bible promises that he is faithful and just to forgive us when we confess.

But we must also understand what it means to repent before the Lord. The word “repentance” means to turn away from something. We don’t turn back to it. Often times, Christians come to a revival moment where they repent.

But then because they don’t understand that they lay it at Christ’s feet to never pick it up again, they go back to the same things and have to repent all over again. But that’s not how repentance works.

As we turn it over, we don’t come back to it. We must become so sick of our sin and the things in us that displease the Lord that we never want to pick them up again. Until we hit this moment, we will have entangling and hidden sins.

Winning the War

Through exposing any darkness we find in us, we make sin and the enemy, darkness its self, vulnerable. We can win the war over hidden sin and our character flaws through exposing them to the light of Jesus.

Sin only has power over us as long as we keep it secret from others. Exposing it to the light of Jesus weakens and destroys it within us. As I showed with Psalm 19:14, we must have the heart to completely repent before the Lord and never want these hidden things to resurface in us.

Another passage in the Psalms that I love is Psalm 139:23-24. The Holy Spirit knows the depths of our person and can search them (1 Corinthians 2:10-11). But we must be open and vulnerable, ready for the Spirit to search us.

The psalmist cries out for God to search him and know his heart. We want nothing hidden from ourselves or from the Lord. We ask him to expose everything in us that displeases him. We open ourselves to the painful process of God’s testing us and our character to know our thoughts and the deep things in us.

God tells us as he looks into us if there are wicked and grievous ways in us. The Holy Spirit leads us into character transformation that changes us forever, conforming us to Christ (Romans 8:29). He guides us into the way that pleases Jesus so we can walk in it.

Conclusion

Anything that is secret or hidden in us, whether we know about it or not, the Spirit of God knows. We must be open to him leading us into the freedom and light of Christ. Exposing these things in us that displease the Lord is another step in the process of becoming holy.

We cannot let anything keep us from following Christ and walking in his ways. It may be something hidden in you that you don’t know about. But the light of God’s Word exposes it. The Holy Spirit reveals it to you.

At this point, each of us has two choices. We can keep it hidden away, secret from others but still exposed before the Lord. The Holy Spirit will never let it go until we let it go and give it to him. The other option is exactly that, to confess it, allowing Jesus to forgive us and take it from us.

Who wants that burden anyway? Our entire goal in holiness is to become more and more like Jesus every day. We must not let any of these hidden things remain in us. Leave me a comment and tell me what you think of the subject of hidden sins and character flaws and how we can expose them before the Lord.

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