There is no darkness, no deep darkness, where evildoers can hide.
One of Satan’s greatest lies is that we can successfully hide sin. We are painfully realizing this as a nation. The recent avalanche of sexual assault allegations has shocked us, despite the fact that our culture has virtually no moral compass. Statements like, “It was a known thing, but nobody stood up to them” are particularly disturbing. These abusers have been hiding in the dark, using their power and influence to prevent their deeds from coming to light. The use of power to sexually abuse someone has always been and will always be wrong, and these perpetrators have more to worry about than the condemnation of our culture.
On the one hand, a few of these sexual predators are now rightly facing the shame of their hidden sins coming to light. On the other hand, many will still temporarily get away with their crimes. While I would acknowledge that simply being accused of something doesn’t make you guilty of it, I would hazard a guess that the majority of those accused are indeed guilty.
The public exposure of these secret sins brings to light an uncomfortable truth: hiding sin never works. This sobering reality is a warning to everyone, calling unbelievers to find refuge in Jesus and believers to be intolerant of secret sin. In the Bible, God continually warns us about the futility of trying to hide our sin. Here’s a quick survey of some of these passages:
It is no coincidence that in Genesis 3:8, after Adam and Eve had committed the first act of rebellion against God, they hid from him: “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.” Our first instinct when we choose to sin is to hide it. This in and of itself is a recognition of God’s moral standard. We are ashamed and don’t want our words, deeds, or attitudes to come to light.
In the book of Joshua the Lord gave Israel specific instructions on not plundering Jericho. Achan, an opportunistic man from the tribe of Judah, had taken spoils from the battle and was literally hiding them in his tent. Joshua, as the enforcer of God’s law for Israel at the moment, called Achan to honor God by confessing his hidden sin, “So Joshua said to Achan, ‘My son, give glory to the LORD, the God of Israel, and make a confession to him. I urge you, tell me what you have done. Don’t hide anything from me.’”
In Psalm 69 David acknowledges the fact that his hidden sin is obvious and apparent to God. In verse 5 he says, “God, you know my foolishness, and my guilty acts are not hidden from you.” This motivates him to confess his sin and seek forgiveness and grace in the sight of God.
Jesus himself warns his followers about those who will persecute them. In Matthew 10:26 he tells his disciples, “Therefore, don’t be afraid of them, since there is nothing covered that won’t be uncovered and nothing hidden that won’t be made known.” He is alluding to the fact that God will judge them in the end, which he makes clear in verse 28, “Don’t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
In both the first and second testaments we find many places where all people are warned about hiding sin. In Isaiah 29:15 the prophet Isaiah warns, “Woe to those who go to great lengths to hide their plans from the LORD. They do their works in the dark, and say, “Who sees us? Who knows us?” The author of Ecclesiastes concludes in 12:14, “For God will bring every act to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or evil.” In the second testament the Apostle Paul affirms the x-ray vision of God’s judgment in 1 Cor. 4:5, “So don’t judge anything prematurely, before the Lord comes, who will both bring to light what is hidden in darkness and reveal the intentions of the hearts.” In a similar vein, the author of Hebrews warns in 4:13, “No creature is hidden from him, but all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.” On the day of judgment, no one will be able to hide their sin from God’s eyes.
On the surface, none. Look at the filth that is in us! Be appalled at the foul and horrid stench of sexual abuse, and those who cover up or condone such acts! But beware, this isn’t the only kind of sin we hide. When we find we are hiding sin, let me offer three brief God-honoring responses:
Call it what it is. Come clean. Like Rodion in Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, there is no rest for the person who refuses to acknowledge their sin. Ask for forgiveness from God and from your victims. This is the first step of faith. There is no salvation for those who refuse to acknowledge they have sinned.
In Daniel 2:22, the prophet Daniel offers a poetic expression of both God’s penetrating view into the dark, and the source of light, “He reveals the deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with him.” In the gospel of John we find out that Jesus himself is the light of the world, the one who has come to make atonement for our sins—those apparent, and those we have carefully hidden away. Faith in Jesus’ death as payment for our sins is the only means of being forgiven in the sight of God.
When he forgives us, Jesus does not exempt us from earthly consequences of our sin. He puts our sin in the light of day and says, “I have paid for this.” If you have commitment crimes, glorify God by turning yourself in to the authorities. There is no honor or comfort in secretly confessing your sin to God while getting away with it. Genuine repentance leads to doing what we can to restore what we have broken.
Hiding sin never works. Let this be a sober warning to all of us to come into the light.