Your Secret Sin is Never A Secret

“Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: Then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression (Psalm 19:13-14).”

There is nothing secret about secret sin when it comes to the all-seeing eyes of the Lord. The Scriptures are full of warnings against committing secret sin thinking that private actions are not that serious or that they hurt no one else. One of the most distressing accounts in the Bible is the sin of Achan. In his heart he coveted and stole a beautiful Babylonian garment that God had forbidden him to take. The account is scary. No one knew about it, and Achan assumed he was getting away with what seemed to be a private matter as he buried Jericho’s plunder in the earth.

But God’s omniscient eyes saw everything and he would not advance Israel forward in the conquest of Canaan until the sin was dealt with. Yes, in a painful exposure, God held all of Israel accountable for the sin of Achan as he pulled the secret sins of his heart out for everyone to see and then exercised a righteous judgment. We shouldn’t miss this point, Achan’s secret sin made all of Israel liable to God’s judgment. Does anyone still think our private sin causes no one else harm, as we hear today?

The story of Achan is meant to trouble us, for who doesn’t have secret sin in their lives? It is meant for the reader to ask who can stand before the omniscient eyes of the Lord. Who has not coveted in his heart? Who refuses to forgive, from the heart? Who has not made a covenant with their eyes to look upon no worthless thing? Who is among us who has clean hands and a pure heart?

When God’s says, “Be sure your sin will find you out,” he is telling us that he will not allow his children to continue in willful, blatant, secret sin. And, when Jesus condemned the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, he expressed that though their outward actions might receive the praise of people, “God knows their hearts.” This is a great problem for everyone.

The effect of Achan’s exposure must have caused great fear for Israel that day. Does God really see everything that is happening in the human heart? And will God hold such secret sin accountable? And why is Achan’s sin singled out and not mine? The effect of the exposure should have made all Israel take seriously how much God hates the sin of human heart, even of our inmost fallen desires, and cry to the Lord for mercy. It was a lesson to Israel: sin must be atoned for, even those dark sins of the human heart that no one ever sees. There is not a single sin when it comes to the holiness of God that, done in isolation, doesn’t hurt others. Most importantly, all sin originating from the human heart is an affront to God’s holy and righteous character.

The problem with secret sin is its sheer power over our lives. Maybe the reader feels hopeless to overcome what has been a longtime captivity to a particular sin. Are you struggling with secret sin, dear reader? What shall one do with feels discouraged and disgusted with the seeming lack of help over the desires of the human heart?

But David offers us remarkable hope even for the problem of secret sin in our lives. David recognized that behind his actual sins of adultery and subsequent murder was a terrible problem that began internally. He lusted and desired something that God had not given him. But what was he to do before the holy, all seeing face of God? The law made no provision for his forgiveness in these sins, his outward sins earned him the judgment of stoning, like Achan. But the beauty of David’s words in Psalm 19 come with a plea to all of us to ask God to forgive and cleanse us from all secret sin.

We must begin where David did:

Lord, I have been completely ignorant to the prevalence of sin in my heart. I lack to ability to see my secret faults, and like Israel before the sin of Achan, I have not taken seriously your holiness or considered how my secret sin has hurt others. Would you please forgive all of my hidden faults. And would you provide me the strength that would restrain such willful sins in me. Yes, Lord, with regard to the sin of my heart, I am completely cast upon your mercies for grace, mercy, and strength, that these sins would not rule over me. Keep me from all hypocrisy that I would lead a blameless life, for all secret sins deny your righteousness. Cover my shame and bring me not into judgment for which I am worthy. Cover me and forgive me with the blood of Christ.

This is the kind of humility and cry that the Lord promises to answer. He will give grace and help in time of need, this is his promise. And the best of news will follow: The Lord promises that he will cover our shame and take away our judgment. He has published sweet words of gospel to his children, that instead of requiring the shame and judgment that we deserve, the Lord will supply a great provision for us. Though we are no better than Achan and deserve the same treatment, he made someone else to become sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in him (2 Cor. 5:21).” Yes, the Lord Jesus Christ promises to cleanse us of all sin, even the secret sins of our hearts. This is the truth that certainly changes lives.