New Series 12. The Danger of Secret Sin.

David in one of his prayer-psalms besought Jehovah for deliverance from deadly enemies who were compassing him about. He was filled with fear because of their sudden and unexpected attacks upon him, and therefore he compared them to a "young lion lurking in secret places" (Ps. 17:12). David was seeking preservation from the subtlety of enemies around him, but it would be well for you to remember that sin, the enemy within you loves darkness and concealment like lions and many foes of the night. Consequently you are undoubtedly exposed to the risk of the insidious spreading of inward pollution which will defile the conscience and the heart.

This risk is the more serious because of the tendency of many believers to imagine it to be possible for them to ensure absolute secrecy for certain of their thoughts and actions. Vainly supposing that the evil purpose and wicked desire within them eludes the notice of all, even of God in heaven, they allow them to flourish within unchecked, until the unholy thoughts suddenly flood the whole being with an irresistible power and overwhelm all that is good and holy in the soul.

Such spiritual disasters arise from forgetfulness of the perfect knowledge of God. This should not be. Readers of the Gospels should know better. One of the objects of the ministry of the Lord Jesus in Judea and Galilee was to show men the truth they had forgotten, that God is acquainted with the thoughts and inner feelings of men. By Him the thoughts of many hearts were revealed (Luke 2:35).

When, for instance, the Lord Jesus went into the synagogue in Capernaum on a certain Sabbath day, there was among the congregation a man who had a withered hand. The scribes and Pharisees present eyed the Lord narrowly, wondering whether or not He would heal the afflicted person on that holy day. We are told that Jesus knew these thoughts of theirs. They did not reveal their feelings by look or sign, but preserved that imperturbability of feature so generally characteristic of Eastern nations.

Within their hearts these Jewish leaders were anticipating that the Lord might exhibit His known compassion for the afflicted and exercise His power to relieve the infirm on that day. If He did so, they would then have the occasion they sought, and they would accuse Him before the Great Council at Jerusalem as a breaker of the law of Moses. But the Lord Jesus knew their thoughts and, while He was not deterred from healing the man's withered hand, He reproved, in the hearing of all assembled in the synagogue, the unworthy and sinful thoughts of those who were bent upon doing what hurt they could to God's Servant and God's Son.

The case at the healing of the withered arm was not the only one of its kind. The same inward disposition to harbour evil thoughts against the Lord Jesus was revealed when the palsied man was brought on his bed to Him. The first words of the Lord to him were, "Son, thy sins be forgiven thee." As these words fell on the ears of the scribes sitting in the audience, they secretly in their hearts accused Him of blasphemy. They falsely assumed within themselves that the Lord had usurped the prerogative of God, who alone has authority to forgive sins. But the Lord perceived in His spirit their inward reasoning (Mark 2:8), and the words which followed from Him showed to all present that He had power to read the secret thoughts of men.

Sad was it for these men that they did not there and then seek forgiveness for the wicked thoughts of their hearts. Why did not they repent of their sin and pray the Lord that the thought of their heart might be forgiven, as Simon Magus was directed to do by the apostle Peter? (Acts 8:22). The consequence was that the scribes who failed to confess their evil purpose and were not cleansed from their secret faults, grew in their bitter and hateful opposition to the Messiah; and later they themselves became guilty of awful blasphemy, for they said with their mouths of Christ Jesus what they thought in their hearts, viz., that He was casting out demons by Beelzebub, the prince of the demons. For this sin of charging the Blessed and Holy One with being possessed by an unclean spirit, the Lord declared that that generation could never have forgiveness (Mark 3:29, 30).

Thus the Lord Jesus in the days of His flesh proved that He possessed the divine attribute of omniscience, and, in addition to the ones already mentioned, He gave many other instances of the exercise of this power.

The fact of the all-seeing eyes of God running to and fro in the earth was known in Old Testament days. The Psalmist had experienced the reality of this all-embracing and all-penetrating knowledge, and he made it the subject of a marvellous Psalm which he wrote for the use of the chief musician in the temple-worship. David's flagrant sin in the matter of Uriah the Hittite was committed in secret. But God knew the whole sordid story, and exposed his guilt to all Israel. (2 Sam. 12:12) The king said within himself, Surely the darkness shall cover me, but he had to learn that the darkness could not hide from Jehovah, and he found, to his shame, that his secret sin was revealed in the light of the sun (Ps. 139:11, 12). Like Moses, David had to say to God, "Thou hast set our iniquities before Thee; our secret sins in the light of Thy countenance" (Ps. 90:8).

God, frequently in His word, warns all men of His omniscience that they may not fall into the foolish delusion of imagining that they can conceal themselves or anything concerning themselves from Him. "Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD" (Jer. 23: 24).

Adam and Eve, having disobeyed the word of God, sought to hide themselves from His presence among the trees of the garden of Eden because they were afraid (Gen. 3:8, 10). This vain attempt at concealment will be repeated on a large scale in the future when kings and great men and rich men will call upon the mountains and rocks to fall upon them and hide them from the face of the One sitting upon the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb (Rev. 6:15, 16).

But surely you, have no need to seek anything to cover you from the face of the Lord. It is at any rate impossible for you to have secrets from Him. He knows the secrets of your hearts (Ps. 44:21). Acknowledge your sin, therefore, and do not seek to hide your iniquity (Ps. 32:5). Confess your sins to Him, for He is faithful and just to forgive your sins and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Remember that if any one, sin, we have an Advocate with, the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous.