“Please don’t touch that knife, John. I don’t want you to hurt yourself.”
These words echoed faintly in the back of the little five-year-old’s mind as he reached into the drawer for that forbidden object. He needed something sharp to cut open his new toy, and the freshly sharpened knife was definitely the tool for the job. He would just make sure to be quick and then put it back exactly where he had gotten it, and mommy would never even know.
Moments later the boy was running to the bathroom for a Band-Aid. He had indeed cut himself with the knife. He covered the bleeding wound on his palm and threw on some mittens to hide the Band-Aid. Then he scurried back to the kitchen, rinsed off the knife, dried it, and set it right back where he had grabbed if from. When his mother asked him later about his mittens, he just shrugged and said he was “playing Eskimos” and had to keep his hands warm.
John, this young boy, had done something that he knew was wrong, but had justified it in his mind because it looked good and profitable to his desires (opening his toy). Nobody had seen him, but that did not make the disobedience any less real and wrong, and John now bore not only the guilt of the deed, but also physical consequences–a cut on his hand. Also this one sin and failing to confront it became the foundation for multiple sins, as John lied and deceived to cover it up.
A very similar story happened long ago in the Garden of Eden. Eve, when no one was around but the serpent, rebelled. In that one defining moment Eve had been filled with self-indulgence, and that fruit looked to her very good and pleasing. It wouldn’t be that bad, and nobody was watching. Eve took the fruit. We all know what happened next. Adam ate as well, and then still trying to hide, they covered themselves. And they were left with the grave consequences of their sin.
How true can this same process be in our own lives? We do something that (whether we consciously want to admit it to ourselves or not) we know deep down is wrong. We try to cover up our sin perhaps by only indulging in it with people who won’t “accuse” or by doing it in secret or by keeping our sinful thoughts and desires to ourselves. Maybe we only say things in sin behind others’ backs or in company that won’t “judge us” for it. However we may try to hide our sin we by our old sinful nature are so easily prone to swallow the lie that for some reason sin is pleasurable, okay, and can be kept a secret.
But let’s look even more personally at this. We, who bear the name “Christian”, so often walk around wearing masks. These masks are the masks of “righteousness.” We may go to church. We may even be very respectful or diligent or what have you. We don’t ever do anything “wrong” per se, but our relationship with our Lord is lacking. We don’t trust Him in every aspect of our lives. We find ourselves “too busy” with life to hear what He actually has to say about our lives. We forget to be thankful for all of the things we so often take for granted, and we try to think we can go through life on our own strength. We make for ourselves other gods, whether they be our status, wealth, toys, studies, desires… any obsessions that steal our constant focus and desire away from the One for whom we ought to be doing this all anyways. We like Eve have our own personal secret sins that we try to hide, deceiving perhaps even ourselves as we are deluded by the lies and excuses we give for them.
But no sin is kept secret. And in the end the One who we are really sinning against is the One who always sees us anyways. We may hide and escape detection here on this earth, but sin always has consequences. No mask that is worn can “undo” a sin. When we continue in sin and fail to address it, we like John find ourselves getting caught in a pit that is just being dug deeper and deeper.
And we are no longer children of this world. Though we may have to deal with the consequences of our sins, we have the wonderful blessing of knowing that in Christ we are no longer in bondage to our sin! What goodness there is in throwing off our masks and facing our sins–exposing them! Sure, assuming responsibility for them is daunting and demands humility and meekness. But when we address our sins, we can deal with them. Our relationship with God is worth so much more than our pride! When we humble ourselves–when we recognize our weakness and dependence on God–when we accept our wrongs and repent of them, then we can grow in the strength of our Lord. We can find forgiveness. We can find hope and move forward in our lives with dependence and comfort in God, being built up and building others up in faith. As it is written in II Corinthians 12:9, “And He said unto me, my grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
John’s mother later found out about the knife. John was sorry. He was punished. His mother addressed the wound so that it wouldn’t get infected. John felt sheepish, but the worry and the weight of trying to keep the secret felt good to be gone. And though the tears of the brief punishment still sat on his cheeks, John knew his mother still loved him. Just the same the Lord loves His children.
May we go forward in life, eschewing sin and the lies that go with it, carrying with us the prayer of Arthur Bennett:
“I bring my soul to thee;
break it, wound it, bend it, mould it.
Unmask to me sin’s deformity,
that I may hate it, abhor it, flee from it…
Let me never forget that the heinousness of sin
Lies not so much in the nature of the sin committed
As in the greatness of the Person sinned against…
All these sins I mourn, lament, and for them
Work in me more profound and abiding repentance;
Give me the fullness of a godly grief
that trembles and fears,
yet ever trusts and loves,
which is ever powerful, and ever confident;
Grant that through the tears of repentance
I may see more clearly the brightness
and glories of the saving cross.