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Secrets, Lies and Cover-Ups: The Art of Confession

Read This: “So confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16)

Think: Secrets, lies, cover-up, scandal—all the makings of a great drama. And if only it were as simple as double dipping. But the secrets we carry so often have far greater consequences than cross contaminating party condiments.

One familiar Biblical tragedy most of us are familiar with is the story of David and Bathsheba found in 2 Samuel 11. First, the sin: David saw a beautiful woman bathing, did some investigating, found out she was married to one of his soldiers, but decided to sleep with her anyway.

This could’ve been the end of the story, but sins often refuse to stay quiet. Bathsheba got pregnant. And so began the cover up plan. David ordered her husband back from the battlefield with the assumption he would go home and sleep with his wife. But this soldier’s loyalty ran deep and he refused to go to his house while other soldiers fought for their lives. The next day David even got him drunk but he still refused to go home. Finally, David sends the soldier back to battle with a letter to the commanding officer with a strategic plan to ensure his death.

David harbored a secret for one reason only: to avoid the consequences of his sin. He was so desperate to keep his secret he went to great lengths to make sure no one found out. He repeatedly compromised his character as well as that of others such as Bathsheba and Joab, the commanding officer.

But then it seemed like it was all settled. David took the now widowed Bathsheba as his wife. What God saw broke his heart, and he loved David too much to let him get away with it. He was confronted by Nathan the prophet and the punishment for his crime was the death of the child Bathsheba bore him and promise that “the sword” would never leave his house (vs. 10).

We may think we can contain our sin and no one will get hurt if they don’t know about it, but sin has a ripple effect. David’s household was forever changed. Those around us feel the consequences though they may not understand the reasons behind them. The darkness in our hearts, and consequently the guilt and shame we feel, eventually finds its way into every aspect of our lives.

Therefore confession isn’t just a suggestion—it’s a commandment. We confess our sins before God and are forgiven, but we also need to confess especially those secretive, habitual sins to another mature believer. The church is the hands and feet of Christ—made of those who can walk the journey towards healing with us. Left to our own devices it’s far too easy to slip back into the dark crevices of our hearts, pretending everything is okay while we rot from the inside out. We need to be able to rely on the prayer and will power of others we run dry. Accountability is a beautiful picture of what church is about.

Ultimately, there may still be the natural consequences of our sin to deal with, but we don’t have to face that alone—God is with us and hopefully others as well. How sweet to walk in freedom with God as well as our family, friends, and church. “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Co 12:9).

Ask: Is there a secret struggle in your life you need to confess and get some accountability for? Whether you answered yes or no, who is someone in your life who would be a prayerful accountability partner should you need one now or later? Would you also be prepared to take on someone else’s burdens to help them heal?

Pray: If you have secrets that need to be brought to light ask God who he would have you confess to. And if you don’t, praise God for that and ask him to safeguard you against the temptation to harbor sin in your heart because none of us are far from it.