"The desires of the flesh warring against the Spirit, and the Spirit warring against the flesh, which began at rebirth, are what produce carnality and the awareness of it. If the Spirit of God detects anything in you that is wrong, He only asks you to accept the light of truth, and then He will make it right. A child of the light will confess sin instantly and stand completely open before God. When the light shines and the Spirit brings conviction of sin, be a child of the light. Confess your wrongdoing, and God will deal with it." --Oswald Chambers, from My Utmost for His Highest.
Have you ever had a moment –a terrible moment- when you realize that something that you thought you were SO right about and SO good in was actually really selfish or sinful?
An argument with your spouse, in which you took the high road, for example. Days later, as your loved one is doing penance, you realize how bitter and power-hungry your heart has been since winning the fight. Or, you’ve gone out of your way to encourage and uplift someone, and you’re reaping praise. But, in your heart, it’s not about loving the other person, it’s about looking good.
Been there. And does the Lord know it!
In Psalm 19:12, we find David praying “But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults.”
That’s right before He prays in verse 13: “Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me.”
We’re reminded of several truths in these simple verses:
- · Sin is a condition we’re born into.
- · Sin can be, and often is, willful.
- · Sin can also be sneaky –we don’t always choose it outright but we’re attracted to it anyway and our hearts can be corrupted by it without us even trying to rebel on purpose against God.
- · Sin needs forgiveness, and we can’t earn that! There are sins we’re not even aware of that need forgiving.
There are a lot of sins that are hidden even from ourselves - often they are ones committed deeply within our hearts that have no apparent or direct bearing on the surrounding world. Some of these sins can’t even be found out by introspection. But the Lord knows them.
We belong to a Lord and creator who knows everything, even hidden things that we don’t know about ourselves.
“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind…” Jeremiah 17:9-10
God’s Word has a lot to say about things that are hidden and what God does with them:
- · “For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.” – Ecclesiastes 12:14
- · "But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.” –Luke 12:2
- · “…wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men's hearts; and then each man's praise will come to him from God.” – 1 Corinthians 4:5
That sounds scary, doesn’t it? If we’re honest with ourselves, especially after one of those moments of “oh Lord! My heart is SO corrupt!,” we know that by ourselves we’re bound up in sin and wickedness.
How is that even when we’re trying avoid sin and cautiously following the path of the Lord that our hearts and still stray so far from Him?
We can’t come up with anything truly good by ourselves, or do anything out of pure, selfless, unconditional love…apart from God. Likewise, we can never grasp the depth of our sins, how egregious our ways are before God, or how corrupt our hearts are.
Don’t be surprised when you discover a sin in your heart that you didn’t select consciously. Don’t be shocked to discover that you’ve hidden your own selfish intentions from yourself. Even moreso –don’t be taken aback when the Lord reveals your hidden faults to you.
Pray a prayer like David’s. Examine your own heart: what sins have you committed? What have you hidden from others, yourself, and the Lord? Confess and repent. Your hope is in Christ and His mercy, not how effectively you yourself handle the sins you’ve already committed.
Then, go farther. Ask for the Lord to forgive even the evil in your heart you don’t know about.
Because here’s what happens when you ask the Lord to forgive even your hidden faults:
- · You surrender some of the deepest parts of yourself to Him, His mercy, and His good purposes.
- · The deep-rooted sins that even you don’t recognize are at work against the Spirit of God. Acknowledge that to live in the Spirit and be free in Christ, you have to rely on Him to do work in you that even you don’t understand.
- · You are humbled and cleansed for His glory: “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” –Psalm 19:14
- · Instead of worrying about the Lord knowing your faults and you making up for them, you can go boldly and eagerly before Him: Christ has reconciled you to God.
Fix your eyes on Jesus rather than trying to make up for the messes you’ve already made. What He illuminates He also cleanses and handles righteously.