Have you ever craved a big sandwich; meat piled high, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, mayo, mustard, and the real thing that makes a great sandwich- deliciously spongy, flavorful bread? Now have you ever gone to the fridge anticipating this flavorful experience only to find the very thing that makes a sandwich a sandwich (the bread) has been ruined by mold? Even the smallest speck of mold destroys the opportunity. The only fix is to go and get new bread. It would be foolish (and disgusting) to put the bread back in the fridge, hoping that, given a little more time, the mold would disappear. In fact, when left alone, hidden, and in the darkness, mold thrives.
Sin is like mold; when left to itself and ignored it actually grows, becoming more of a health risk, and can even become lethal. The irony is that although sin is harmful, and only gets worse when we hide it, we often take the ridiculous approach of putting the sin back in darkness, hoping that it will solve itself. I believe this is because we tend to approach sin with less gravity than God does. This is simply because sin is assumed to be behavioral, and we can easily justify our behavior being better than others, or don’t see our sin as that big of deal because “what difference will it really make in my life.” We need to have a better understanding of what sin is in order to begin to expose the mold of sin in a life giving way.
Ben Franklin said, “Sin is not hurtful because it is forbidden, but it is forbidden because it is hurtful.” When dealing with sin we have to start with an understanding that the motivation for God to root out sin, and for us to expose our sins, is that sin is hurtful to us. For whatever reason we have come under the assumption that the Bible is a list of rules that govern us from fun and life. The whole story of the Bible is one of God pursuing us to give us life. Within that context, the pointing out of sin is to show us the things that are harmful to us. With this understanding, our approach to sin should be understood as relational not behavioral. When viewed as behavioral, removal of sin is nothing more than moral modification, but when seen as relational we begin to understand that sin separates us from the one who gives life. Sin silences God’s loving voice in our lives, instead drawing us towards death, pain, and darkness. God wants to remove our sins, and He wants us to be honest about our sins. He doesn’t do this to stifle life, but because exposing and repenting of our sins removes the barriers to connecting with Him.
Sin, especially hidden sin, will take you further than you wanted to go and cost you more than you wanted to give. The Bible is full of characters that show this statement to be true (even ones who are said to deeply love God). King David, one of the patriarchs of the faith entangled himself in sin, which become worse as he hid his sin from others. He started with lust, which turned into adultery, and eventually murder. I know what you are thinking... “we’ll that is a bit extreme,” but I’d caution all of us of dismissing ourselves from the warning presented. When I started ministry my mentor stopped me when I was angrily telling him how stupid it is that another pastor in town had engaged in inappropriate relationships. While my anger was justified, the caution my mentor gave was a wisely simple question, “Drew, do you think that they started their ministry with the goal of destroying their marriage, family, and career?” Our discussion lead to a realization that I must make sure that I am dealing with the sin in my life, bringing it to light, and getting support, because when it is hidden, sin grows into the mold that infects my soul that plugs my ears to my relationship with God and with others.
May we silence the lies that keep us silent: “It’s not that big of deal. I’ll do it on my own. No one needs to know about that. Next time I won’t. No one will understand, I’ll be looked down on…” Instead, find people in your life that you can bring the mold of hidden sin into the light, where the bleach of God’s love washes you clean. Jesus has done the work, now will you let him work?