And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:13
Hiddenness is a way of life nearly as old as time. After Adam and Eve were deceived and ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, Genesis 3:8 says, “the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden”. Hiding is the natural response to the shame associated with having done something wrong. Rather than facing the consequences of our actions, whatever they might be, hiddenness promises the option of remaining unseen and unscathed by our sin. It’s a tantalizing alternative to the destruction that sin apparently causes and one behind which a queue of us line up daily. We desire to remain in the shadows created by our own hands, untouched by the wreckage our sin brings on our lives. We create a sense of anonymity wherein our sin and its consequences cannot be traced back to our lives because we are experts at concealing and quartering off the uglier sides of our souls. Often, we can fool those closest to us and even convince ourselves we are less controlled by sin than we actually are. That’s why hiddenness and anonymity are false and deadly comforts.
First and foremost, hiddenness is a false comfort because there is nothing hidden from the One to whom we will answer for our lives (Romans 14:12). Often, this is a consideration far from our hearts but one we should meditate on. Matthew 10:28 says, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” If our greatest fear in sin is being found out – losing our jobs, harming our marriage, damaging the relationship with our children – then we have faulty priorities. The greatest issue is that we are sinning before a Holy God who sees all things and knows every intention of our hearts. The answer we give for our sin on earth is nothing compared with the answer we must give to our Creator. Hiddenness is also a false comfort because “unseen sins” aren’t victimless. Even if we set aside the issue of God seeing all things, undiscovered sins aren’t relegated to a lesser status in our lives with lesser consequences. The same destruction that visible sin creates in our lives is just as present in our hidden sins, even if we aren’t aware of the consequences. A prostitute deals with no less brokenness from their sin than the husband or wife who is secretly addicted to pornography. A dishonest man in business is no less damaged by his sin than his colleague busted for insider trading. The effect of sin doesn’t change just because it becomes visible.
That is why the anonymity and hiddenness can be even more dangerous to us as believers than our sins being displayed in public. The knowledge of sin in our life is rightfully matched with confession to fellow believers (James 5:16) and restoration (Galatians 6:1). God has given us the blessing of Christian community to see to it that none of us be taken by sin (Hebrews 3:13), but if we do, we have the encouragement, counsel and guidance of fellow believers. However, if we create ways to be anonymous in our sin-battle, we allow ourselves to remain entangled. For the sin we deceive ourselves over through hiddenness and anonymity, we have no true confession and repentance. This allows sin to take up deep and ugly roots in our hearts. As Dave Powlison says, “things in a secret garden always grow mutant”. When we respond to sin inadequately, we will continue to feel its crushing weight in our lives. There is no such thing as sin without consequences, but we can masquerade them long enough to allow them to fester. All sin is destructive and is actively leading us away from Christ.
But the gospel offers us another way than remaining hidden in our sin. Romans 5:8 says that “while we were still sinners” Christ died for us. God is aware of every broken part of your life, yet he loves you with an indescribable love displayed on the cross. Jesus came for a people who were “dwelling in darkness” (Matthew 4:16) to shine the light. God has given us a way to expose our sin yet rest in the sufficient work of Jesus to nail these sins to the cross (Colossians 2:14). It’s because of Jesus that we should no longer feel a compulsion to be hidden from God. He’s seen and paid for it all through his blood and it’s by his grace that we are being set free from our bondage and formed into his image day by day (Romans 8:29). That’s why 1 John 1:5-9 tells us that if we say we know Christ but continue to walk in darkness, we “deceive ourselves”. To remain entangled in sin is to neglect the freedom we have in Christ. Instead, 1 John 1:9 tells us that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. We have a Savior who is forgiving and cleansing us of sin. To neglect this in order to “hide from” the consequences of our sin is not only foolish, it’s deadly.
Instead of becoming an expert on hiding from your sin, establish healthy rhythms of removing anonymity and becoming known. Find people who will seek out what you aren’t willing to offer up on your own. Surround yourself with people who will know when you are struggling with sin and be willing to correct you in love. Be diligent to confess sin and accept the consequences as they come. Far better than temporarily avoiding the consequences of sin is being able to walk in a clear conscience and the freedom found in the gospel.