Community Group Study Notes
- Why are secret sins so destructive to the health of our faith?
- Why is it necessary to bring those secret sins into the light? What should this look like?
- What is one action step you can take based on what you heard in Sunday’s message?
Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. (Proverbs 28:13)
Back in the 1990s, late 1990s when I was serving at a church in southwest Florida, the church had grown some but was still reasonably small, and we had purchased a building that was like a strip mall, all under one roof. And we had renovated it, and that had become our new church home when we'd move there. And one of the responsibilities that I had when I was there along with some of the other staff members who were there is that we had a responsibility for locking up the building. There weren't that many of us; the church was just kind of growing so we had be kind of a jack of all trades. So we were opening the building and locking the building, and just doing the stuff that you have to do to serve people and serve the church.
And we had a lot of fun, me and the other knuckleheads that were with me that were on our staff team, and we all had fun together. And when we would lock up, it would be a whole lot of fun. We would be talking and laughing and shouting at one another, and doing all that stuff, and pulling pranks on one another, all of that stuff. We had a great time until we turned off the lights. Then everything changed.
And I remember times where I had to lock up the building by myself and everything was fine. I was confident, laughing, talking to myself, walking around the place. And then I turn the lights out and I'm a different man. I am scared and paranoid and freaking out because every little [sound 00:02:22], you're going, "Who's there? What's up? What is going down? There 10 of me." It's like when the darkness set in, I became somebody different. When I was in the light, everything was cool. But when I got into the darkness, I became a different person than I was. Am I the only one that's ever happened to? Or are you the same way? Some of you are going, "No, you're alone. You're all alone in your darkness. Get counseling. We're praying for you." Thank you. I appreciate all of you and how Christian you are.
It's true, right? Well, here's the thing. Secret sin is a lot like that. What secret sin does in our lives is it brings us into a place of darkness and starts to make us someone that we're actually not. You see, for those of us who have been transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Bible tells us that we are different people; that we are now a children of light, and so we're not children of darkness. And so whenever we have these secret sins in our life that pull us into kind of these empty spaces of darkness that we can feel ... I mean, have you ever been in such real darkness where you can't see your hand in front of your face, and you're just ... I wasn't doing a Jon Cena; I was actually just ... When you can't see your hand in front of your face, and it's like it's kind of stifling, it's kind of oppressive and it's a little bit concerning. Right? And I've been in those places before and I remember that feeling, and maybe you do, too.
And when we talk about the idea of kind of sin or secret sin in the Bible, we get that idea of this darkness that we face that we're not destined to be in; we're actually destined to be in light. Now Paul talks about this idea in the Book of Ephesians, and I want you to find your place there. I don't care if you turn there or if you scroll there or if you swipe there. Whatever your choice is, find your spot in Ephesians, chapter number five, because I want you to see what Paul has to say. Ephesians is in the New Testament. If you're new to the Bible or any of that stuff, Ephesians is in the New Testament. That's the second half of the Bible, and it's about halfway through the second half of the Bible if you are actually looking at a physical copy. If not, type it in; it'll come up.
Ephesians, chapter number five. I want you to listen to how Paul describes this idea. Here's what he says at the beginning of verse number eight. "For you were once darkness but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth, and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret."
You see, when Paul talks about this idea, he actually uses two metaphors. He uses the metaphor of darkness and the metaphor of light. When he talks about the idea of darkness, he's talking about those kind of fruitless deeds of sin, fruitless deeds of darkness. And he basically says when we do that, we find ourselves in a place of spiritual darkness. It's not where we're intended to be. Those aren't the thought patterns we're supposed to have. It's not who we're destined to become as children of God.
But then he talks about the idea that when we are walking with God that we are a people of light, who live in light because we are children of light, and that's where we're supposed to be. That's where we're supposed to live. And these kinds of designations that Paul is using about darkness and light, they're not brand new. In fact, you see them in the New Testament. Paul's not the only person who uses these kinds of metaphors to describe walking at a distance from God in a place called sin, or walking kind of in the presence of God in a place called light.
Because maybe more than even Paul used this description, John the Apostle used this description. He did it in his Gospel over and over again, and in the Letters -- First John, Second John, Third John; one, two, three, John -- he used it in there. I'll pick one of those places in First John, chapter one, here's what he says. "This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you. God is light. In Him, there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus, His son, purifies us from all sin."
You see, what I want us to make sure that we pick up on is this, is that the language is stark. It's this language of darkness and light. It's the language of sin and purity, and this is the language that Paul continues to give to us and that John even reinforces. And if we can remember that feeling of darkness, we realize the seriousness of sin. If you can realize what it means, what it feels like to be kind of in pitch black, utter, oppressive darkness and kind of what that feels like, that's what Paul is trying to help call to our memory to remind us of what sin and secrets actually are like.
You see, for Paul this is a serious issue. The idea of sin -- and when I refer to that idea, when I'm talking about sin here's what I'm talking about -- the word itself means to miss the mark. It's as if there's a bullseye and this bullseye is holiness. It's perfection. And it's as if we pull back an arrow and we haven't even hit the target at all, let alone the bullseye. We are way off the mark for what God's standard of holiness is. Sin is what sets itself up to oppose the nature and the will of God; like everything that is in opposition to the will of God, we would call sin. It's missing the mark. It's not walking in the way of God. It's not following after the will of God. It's all of those things kind of put together.
So when Paul talks about it, he's really serious about it. He's not messing around with it. But unfortunately, when we talk about it, we treat sin more like a pet to be tamed than we do about how serious it is. You see, that's a really difficult thing because sin is not something that you can just domesticate. Sin is not some pet that we bring in and that we can coddle and that we can somehow tame and just keep it alive but keep it near us. You probably heard story after story, as I have, through the years of people who had pets that shouldn't have been pets. You know what I'm talking about? And they didn't turn out well.
I mean, that's like Mark Vogel who was in Germany. He had a menagerie of pets that he kept in his house, of insects and reptiles of various kinds, in his apartment that he lived in by himself. And his pet black widow bit him and killed him. And there he is, dead in his apartment because he lived by himself. And so the other 200 spiders, the snakes, the thousands of termites that he kept as pets, and a gecko all helped themselves to him. It's a tragic example, but these are pets that shouldn't be pets.
Or a lady from Pennsylvania named Sandra Piovesan who had nine half-wolf half-dogs; they're called wolf dogs. I just don't know that those should be a pet. They're wolf dogs. Now if you have them, more power to you. I hope what happened to her doesn't happen to you because she went in one day and she just went in to clean their cages while they were all in there, and they all decided to maul her to death. Wolf dogs. That's not ... If somebody went, "Hey, would you like to get this wolf dog?" I'd be like, "No. Nope. The dog's fine. I'm running from the wolf. I don't want the combination thereof."
Or Marius Els who's from South Africa, who had a 2600 pound hippopotamus as a pet. A 2600 hundred pound hippopotamus as a pet named Humphrey, like that's going to make him better. Humphrey. They actually interviewed Marius because everybody knew about Humphrey the 2600 pound hippo. And they interviewed him and he said, "What people don't understand is that Humphrey is like a son to me, and he's basically like a human." Until he wasn't. Until he killed him. It's a 2600 pound hippopotamus. It's a tragic story. But I don't know if you know this, I've been in South Africa before and I've been in wild game reserves, and I'm like, "Cool, a hippo." And they're like, "You'd be better off playing with a lion." Hippos kill more human beings than any animal in the world. In my mind, I'm thinking it's a board game, Hungry Hungry Hippos. And the dude's like, "You're the game. You're the game. Get away from the water." They're super dangerous and we think ...
Listen, these are tragic examples and I'm not making light of them. They're tragic examples of people that had pets that probably shouldn't have been been pets, and that's what happens when we entertain secret sin our life. Listen, our sin is not a pet to be tamed. It's a beast to be slayed. That's what our sin is. It's not something that we coddle and try and cozy up with and somehow domesticate. No, no, no. It needs to be eradicated and I'll tell you why, because it wants to sink its teeth into us and drag us into darkness. That is the whole game. That is the endgame.
Paul was really serious about that. In fact, maybe you missed it when I was reading it a moment ago, but look back in verse 11 of chapter five, "Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them." Do you hear what he's saying here? Have nothing to do with them. But unfortunately, when we do have something to do with them, when we have something to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, here's what they do. They take us farther and farther away from who we really are as children of light and they keep us bringing us closer and closer to who we used to be and who we were rescued from being. That's what happens when we entertain secret sin in our lives.
Now, what I want to do is I want to take Paul's exhortation to us and I want to illustrate the seriousness of what he's talking about with some examples in the Scripture. Just a few, but they're stories of people that I want us to learn from because what we see is we see how these people interacted with the reality of sin and what the consequences, both external and internal, actually were. In fact, if I rolled it all the way back to the beginning, we could look at Adam and Eve. And here's what we could learn from Adam and Eve.
From Adam and Eve, we learned that sin creates a vicious cycle. We learned that -- that should be that, not then -- and from Adam and Eve we learned that sin creates a vicious cycle. Let me explain what I mean. You remember the story, right? You remember that Adam and Eve were in the garden and things were great, and they didn't wear clothes and that was cool, and nobody was worried about that and everything was awesome. And they hung out with God. They were in God's presence and God spoke to them, and He walked with them in the cool of the day, and they would interact with Him. God gave them access to every fruit and tree and everything that was in the garden except for one. He said I want you to stay away from that one.
And then there was this serpent and he was talking, and it was really the personification of evil. It was the adversary, the Satan -- it uses the definitive article there -- the Satan, the adversary who then comes to them and wants to convince them of something different; wants to convince them to walk in their own way instead of the way and the will of God.
And you may remember some of the dialogue. It's in Genesis, chapter three, and it says this. "When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for getting wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they realized that they were naked, so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord called to the man, 'Where are you?' and Adam answered, 'I heard You in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.'"
You see this, ladies and gentlemen, is the vicious cycle that we get into, and let me explain what happened. They did what they shouldn't have done, and as a result of that the first thing that they experienced was shame. They felt shame for their nakedness when prior to that they did not feel shame for their nakedness. But now, in this exposure to sin, they felt shame for their nakedness. And so what happened? They got scared. So what did they do? They felt shame, they covered themselves up. And then they got scared when they heard God, so they ran away from instead of running to. And what did their fear lead them to do? Hide.
You see, this is the vicious cycle that we get into with secret sin. We've done something that we shouldn't have done. We're awfully shamed by it. We've done it and it's awful and we're shamed by it, and now out of that shame comes a bunch of fear. We're scared. We're scared that other people are going to find us out; that they're going to know who we really are, that they're going to know what we've done. And so because of that shame that leads to fear, do you know what we do? We hide. We hide what we've done. We tuck it away.
But here's the problem. Shame leads to fear, and fear leads to hiding. And the longer you hide, the more shame you feel. And the more shame you feel, the more afraid you get. And the more afraid you get, the more you try to hide. It actually just continues to cycle on you. Some of you are going, "[sound 00:17:10], you're getting a little too close to home here." Hey listen, I've known people in my many years of ministry because I'm, like, super old. In my many years of ministry, I know a lot of people who've lived double lives. I've talked with them, I've met them, they've talked to me about that. They live double lives. Maybe on the front side, they're kind of this person that presents themselves as a wonderful Christian, and knows the lingo and knows the stuff and all that stuff. And then on the back side they're doing things that we couldn't even dream, dream that they were doing. It's like they're two different people and they've hidden all of this from everybody. But then eventually, that gets exposed.
And do you know what? In almost all of the cases where people have kind of come to a place of repentance, which I thank God for, when they've come to that kind of place; not all have but when they come to that place, do you know in almost every one of those instances I've heard the same thing. When I ask, "How does this feel?" And they'll all say the same thing, "I'm exhausted. I'm tired. I'm exhausted." Do you know why? Do you know how hard it is to manage a cycle that keeps reproducing and compounding on itself? That you feel shame, and that shame leads to fear, and that fear makes you hide, and the longer you hide the more shame you feel, and then the more scared you become. And then the more you try to hide and the longer you do that, the more shame you feel and the more scared you get. And then you try to hide and it just keeps doing this. And it's exhausting, it's tiring, and it's no wonder because that's where sin leads us.
I heard a guy, an old pastor, years and years ago say, "Sin fascinates and then it assassinates." And I thought, hmm, so true. Sin will take you farther than you want to go and it will leave you longer than you want to stay. This is what sin does. It's trying to get us into places of darkness and take us away from being people of light. So we learned from Adam and Eve that what sin does is it brings us into this vicious cycle that leads us into darkness.
But there's somebody else that we can learn from as an illustration, and that's David. You remember him, right? Shepherd boy turned king. David, when he was the king, he made a really, really bad decision. You can see it in Second Samuel ... I should tell you that first. Go back one, I'm sorry, I should have told you that. From David, here's what we learn. The more that you hide sin, the more sin it takes to do it. I'm going to show this to you in just a second, but here's what it says. From David we learn that the more you hide sin, the more sin it takes to do it. Let me show you this. It's in Second Samuel, chapter 11.
It says, "In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king's men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem." In other words -- did you cath that earlier? -- David was supposed to be going out because he was the king and that's when the kings went out to war, but he stayed back in Jerusalem.
One evening, David got up from his bed and he walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof, he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful and David sent someone to find out about her. And the man said, 'She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.' Then David sent messengers to get her and she came to him, and he slept with her and now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness (that's why she was bathing), and then she went back home. The woman conceived and sent word to David saying 'I am pregnant'."
All right. So we see the initial sin here with David, right? David is lusting in his heart. He should have been elsewhere, but he's in the wrong place at the wrong time. He's seeing a woman who's bathing, he has lust in his heart, he finds out about her, and he's the king, he can do whatever he wants. He sends for her, she comes to him. He sleeps with her, she gets pregnant. So David's involved in all kinds of mess, right? He's involved in lust that led to adultery and he's in a mess.
And so now what happens? Well, David decides that he's going to do his best to hide his sin. And so what he does is he says, 'oh, she's Uriah the Hittite's wife. Send for Uriah and bring him back from out there fighting. I want you to bring him back to Jerusalem.' He comes back, David says, hey, give me a report. I want to hear about what's going on. Because Uriah was one of David's mighty men that were listed with David. These were people close to David, that had stuck with David. He's one of his mighty men.
And he says here's how it's going and all that kind of stuff, and David said thanks for the report, here's what I want you to do. I want you to stay over the night with your wife and then you can go back tomorrow, but I want you to stay over with your wife and enjoy yourself and all of that. And David thought that's going to solve it, right? Now David's using -- listen to this -- he's trying to manipulate, the sin of manipulation of people because he's got a sin he's trying to take care of and it takes more sin to actually hide it. So now he wants to manipulate Uriah by saying, hey, now I've brought him back, I'm getting a report, blah, blah, blah. Now go hang out with your wife, and he's going to sleep with her and it's going to be like, oh, she's pregnant. And of course, I'll tell her that she's got to tell him that that's actually his, and so we'll be all good. He'll think it's his kid, everything's good, we're in good shape.
But Uriah, because he's a man of integrity and he's a noble man, he said, look, I'm not sleeping with my wife when my men who are on the battlefield can't come home and enjoy being with their families. I can't do it, so I'm going to sleep on the ground. And David's like, wow, this is messed up because my plan is not going well at all. And he's like, I admire you, you're a good man. You're a good man, Uriah. Bring me some wine.
So now because that didn't work, he's going to get him drunk. So he tries to get him drunk, and you know what? Even in that state, he still didn't go in to his wife. He stayed out and slept on the ground. I'm not doing it. So David said, all right, I've got to do something different. So David says Uriah, I'm going to send you back but I've got a special note for Joab, who's my general, who's also one of my mighty men. I've got a special note for Joab that I want you to carry to him. Do you know what the note was? The note that he wrote was 'send Uriah to the front of the battle so he'll get killed.' And he gave it to Uriah to carry to the general. What?
So, Uriah does it; does not open it. Gives it to Joab. Joab reads it. Now what David has done is he's compounded all of this. It started with just lust that led to adultery, but now he's trying to hide it. And so he manipulates, and he tries to get a guy drunk. And now he involves other people in his deception. Now Joab has to send Uriah -- two guys that are mighty men of David -- Joab has to send Uriah to the front lines to die. That's exactly what he does and that's exactly what happens to Uriah. He dies.
Listen, ladies and gentlemen, here's the thing. When you try and hide sin, it takes more sin to do it. You think that, okay, I've got this thing that I'm dealing with and now I'm going to hide it. But to hide it, it requires you piling on sin after sin after sin to be able to hide it. And this is not what God has called us to. Thank God that Nathan ended up coming, the prophet ended up coming and confronting David in kind of a story form way, and then David realized it was him, and David repented. He wasn't used by God in the same way after that. He was loved by God but he wasn't used in the same way after that.
Interestingly enough, David, in the Psalms, kind of talks about how this affected his heart and what it did. Listen to what David said Psalm 32. He said, "Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit." Listen to this. "When I kept silent, my bones wasted away. Through my groaning all day long, for day and night Your hand was heavy on me. My strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. But then I acknowledge my sin to You and I didn't cover up my inequity. I said I will confess my transgressions to the Lord and You forgave the guilt of my sin."
You know, the writer of Proverbs actually talks to us in the same kind of idea about trying to cover up sin. Here's what Proverbs, chapter 28 says. "Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy." You see, from Adam and Eve here's what we find. We find that what sin will do is it will bring us into this vicious cycle of shame and fear and hiding. And then from David, here's what we learn. We learn that the more you try and hide your sin, the more sin it takes to actually hide it, and it just keeps pressing you further and further into darkness.
But there's another guy that I want to point out to you because we learned something from him. His name is Rueben. He didn't invent a sandwich. You're probably going ... Some of you may be going I don't know who Rueben is. Rueben was one of Jacob's kids. Remember the 12 Tribes of Jacob? The 12 Tribes of Israel, and Jacob was renamed Israel, the 12 Tribes? Rueben was the oldest son of Jacob.
Now when Jacob was getting to the end of his life, what he was going to do was he was going to pronounce kind of a prophesy of sorts over his children. And he was going to gather all of his children to himself, and then he was going to speak to each child about what kind of inheritance they would receive or what they wouldn't receive. Some scholars have called this the Judgment Seat of Jacob because what it is, it's an Old Testament preview of what the Judgment Seat of Christ actually looks like. When Jacob was talking to his kids, this wasn't an issue about their son-ship. That was already settled. This was an issue about what they would receive, or what they wouldn't.
And so this is what Jacob does, and he first starts with Rueben. Notice the interaction in Genesis, chapter 49. "Then Jacob called for his sons and he said 'Gather around so I can tell you what will happen to you in the days to come. Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob. Listen to your father, Israel.'" (Remember his name was Israel, Jacob.) "He said, 'Rueben, you are my first born, my might, the first sign of my strength, excelling in honor, excelling in power. Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel, for you went up onto your father's bed, onto my couch, and defiled it.'" [inaudible 00:28:26] What just happened here?
You're reading this and you're going, wait a minute, this is aging Jacob who's about to pronounce blessings on his kids. He's assigning them their inheritance, and Rueben is probably over there with bated breath because he's the oldest. And you know what the oldest got? A double portion. Rueben was like, bring it times two. That's what was about to happen, right? And all of a sudden, here's what happens.
He says, um hmm, because you went up on your father's couch and defiled it. What is he talking about? Well, you would have had to have been paying attention when you read Genesis up to that time because there was this little, small paragraph that we see in Genesis, chapter number 35, and it says this. "While Israel (talking about Jacob) while Jacob was living in that region, Rueben went in and slept with his father's concubine, Bilhah." (Which is like another one of his wives; polygamy in the Old Testament, not something God was favorably disposed to but nonetheless it happened in the Old Testament.) "He went in with one of his father's concubines, Bilhah, and Jacob heard of it."
Now here's the thing. We don't have any indication in the Book of Genesis, we don't have any indication that Rueben knew that his dad knew. Jacob knew. He'd heard of it and he didn't say anything. That was years and years and years ago. And when he's about to die and he gathers his children, here's what he says to Rueben. You expected a double blessing, but you defiled your father's bed with Bilhah. She's with me.
In other words, Jacob was saying to Rueben I know and you didn't get away with it. You didn't get away with it. See, that's what we learn from Rueben. What we learn from Rueben is this, is that even if we thought we got away with it, we didn't. Even if we thought we got away with it, we didn't. You see, because this Old Testament picture is kind of like a picture of what the Judgment Seat of Christ is going to be all about. You see, for those of us that have stored away secret sins that we thought we got away with, and maybe they're ... It's our big deal, it's a big deal but we've kind of socked it away, and nobody knows and everything's cool, and man, I've been able to manage, and it's all good. Listen, are you kidding me? Your Father knows.
And when we stand before the Judgment Seat of Jesus ... This isn't going to be a judgment, by the way, for believers. This isn't a judgment on whether we spend eternity with Him or not. This isn't a judgment about son-ship or daughter-ship. This is a judgment about what we did in the body, whether good or bad. This is a judgment about having those things that we did, both good and bad, exposed. And in fact, there's also going to be a revealing among those who do not know God when they stand before Him in judgment. They're going to recognize what they have done in their sin and how that offends a holy God.
We shouldn't be surprised by this, by the way, to think that we got away with something because we didn't. The writer of Ecclesiastes says it this way in chapter 12; it's the very end of Ecclesiastes, last verse. He says, "For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it's good or evil." Isn't that a beautiful thing? It's beautiful in the sense that God even knows the things that we've done in secret that are for the glory of God, but it's also sobering in a sense that God knows everything that we've done that is in darkness.
But let me show you what Paul says in Romans, chapter two. He says, "This will take place on the day when God judges peoples' secrets through Jesus Christ as my Gospel declares." And then Paul says this in First Corinthians, chapter four. "Therefore, judge nothing before the appointed time. Wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. And at that time, each will receive their praise from God." We might think we got away with it, but we didn't.
You see, this is serious. What Paul is talking about is he's saying, look, in Ephesians 5, Paul is saying "Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness." Why? Because they're serious. They make us into something that we're not. Well, why is that? Because it's the anthesis of the Gospel. Here's what the Gospel teaches us. The Gospel teaches us that God loved us even in the midst of our sin. While all of us were bound by sin and all of us in the future would be bound by sin, Jesus entered into time and space, knowing that we would be a sinful people, so that he could come identify with us, born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, went to a cross, and here's what the Bible says.
The Bible says that "He who knew no sin became sin for us so that in Him, we might become the righteousness of God." That the perfect substitute, Jesus, died our death in our place because of our sin, because it's that serious. And a holy God, knowing that we've all missed the mark and could never meet the criterion of holiness, He now judges our sin on the perfect sacrifice, Jesus, because all of your stuff, all of your adultery, all of your lust, all of your lies, all of my cheating, any of those things, they're all poured upon Jesus Christ. And God judges sin in Jesus Christ. He becomes sin for us.
This is a startling reminder of how serious this is. He dies paying our sin debt that we could never pay, rising from the grave by the power of the spirit of God, conquering death, conquering the grave, conquering hell, conquering sin so that now, for those us who are bound by sin, we can put our faith and trust -- listen to this -- not in what we could do to impress God, but in what Jesus has done to overcome our sin. And by faith in Him, we can be made new. And when we come by way of faith through the grace of God, we get brand new passports. What used to say on our passport, Child of Darkness; country, the Kingdom of Darkness, now is exchanged for Child of Light; country, Kingdom of Light. We have been made brand new. It's who we are.
Now, why is that important for us? That's extraordinarily important for us because what we have to remember is who we are. You see, if we've been born from above, if we are children of God, if we have come by way of faith to Jesus Christ, then we are children of light. And listen to this: when we sin, and we will, when we sin it doesn't invalidate the relationship we have with God, but what it does is it interrupts the fellowship we have with Him. It interrupts the fellowship we have with God. It interrupts the fellowship that we have with other people, but it doesn't invalidate what God has done in Christ because He's taken care of all of our sin. That's the beautiful reminder.
We've got to remember who we actually are. We're children of light. That's why we bring everything into the light. Maybe I could say it simply. When we bring our secret sin into the light, we are becoming what we really are. When we bring our secret sin into the light, we are then becoming what we really are. The reason that I'm concentrating on this idea of what we really are is because that's what Paul is concentrating on. In fact, maybe you missed this but I don't want you to. I want you to see this is in verse number eight; again it's in Ephesians 5. Listen to it.
"For you were once darkness but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light." Do you see it? Watch. You were darkness. Paul here doesn't say that you just lived in darkness. That's true. He says you were darkness. And then he doesn't just say now you live in the light. That's true. He says you are light. You were darkness and now you are light. This is about identity. This is about who we are. In fact, I think that's why at the end of this thought passage in Ephesians 5, look with me at the close of that thought passage in verse 13 and 14. Paul says, "But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, and everything that is illuminated becomes alive. This is why it is said 'Wake up, sleeper. Rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you.'"
Now leave that there for just a moment. When you look at that, you're thinking to yourself, "Huh, that sounds like what Paul was doing, is quoting some Old Testament passage." Really? Which one is he quoting because I haven't found it. He's not quoting an Old Testament passage. Although there are some that have some of those pieces in them, it's not a direct quote on an Old Testament passage. Do you know what probably that is? It's a baptismal formulation that the early church was using when they spoke to people who were just being baptized. "Wake up, sleeper. Rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you."
Why would Paul include that in this passage? Here's why. Because this passage is about out our identity, and what he's saying to the people that are supposed to be children of light that occasionally give rise to the fruitful deeds of darkness that them off into the darkness. He's saying remember who you are. Do you remember when you came by faith in Jesus Christ, and you came by faith in Him, and then you were baptized? Wake up, sleeper. Rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you. He's basically saying this: stop engaging in the fruitless deeds of darkness and bring your stuff into the light. Why? Because that's who you are.
You see, here's what I know. I know that in an audience that I'm speaking to today in two services and people that'll watch us on television, online, multiple campuses, I know that I'm talking to people that have secrets. I know that. That's not lost on me. I know that. You've felt the shame of those secrets as a child of God. And that shame led you to fear, and that fear led you to hide. But it's difficult because you keep in this cycle. But the thing is, the more you hide, the more sin it takes to keep it hidden. And by the way, it's not like you got away with it even if you think you did. You didn't. But I'm trying to remind us what Paul's reminding us of. It's not who you are. It's not who you are. You are supposed to be a child of light. Don't be afraid of the light. Be more concerned when you're comfortable in darkness. Don't be afraid of the light.
Here's what I want to do. I want to give you some action steps. It doesn't make any sense to live your life in darkness when you're a child of light. It makes no sense at all because we get really comfortable in the darkness that we find ourselves in. We get really comfortable with our stuff and our hiding and all of that kind of stuff, and we get nervous because we're like I don't want to come into the light because I feel shame and I feel afraid, and that's why I've been hiding. But we forget that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. And that who we are is not a person that's supposed to be subjugated to darkness all the time. We are supposed to walk into and be children of light.
So I want to give you some action steps because I know that there's people that are dealing with secret sin; things that may be of significant consequence, things that may not yet be as significant in consequence. And by the way, no judgment here; we all have to deal with these things, don't we? But here's what I want you to remember in terms of an action step: just remember light. That's what we're talking about, light. L-I-G-H-T. Let me explain what I mean.
L, lay your secrets down. Let them go. You see, for too long we get comfortable with them and we come over here into the darkness and we think that our sin is like a pet to be tamed, but it's not because it's going to turn on us and our sin will always find us out. Instead we need to lay our secrets down and let them go.
I, we need to invite Jesus in. You see, that's what we do when we step into the light. What we're doing is we're just inviting Jesus in. This is what repentance looks like. Repentance looks like leaving darkness and coming into light, and letting Jesus in.
G, we need to get help. Maybe that's with our brothers and sisters in Christ, maybe that's with a counselor or maybe that's with a support group. Maybe that's finding ourselves in a small group community that we've never been in before. Whatever it is, we need to get help.
H, we need to honestly confess to God and to others. You see what repentance is, is agreeing with God about sin; saying yes, God, I acknowledge that this is sin. I'm not going to leave it over here any longer and just pile on sin after sin of justifying the thing that you and I know You have called sin, and I've just been justifying it because I'm cloudy and I'm messed up. Now I'm just going to agree with You yes it is, yes it is, yes it is. And you confess to God and then, as appropriate, you confess to others that maybe need to hear this as well.
And then T, you take proactive action. Instead of always just reacting, you become proactive and you realize what do I need to do to avoid this sinking its teeth into me and dragging me into the darkness. You see, ladies and gentlemen, when we bring our secret sins into the light, we are becoming what we really are: children of light. This is what we are. We're children of light. "Live then," Paul says, "as children of light."
Would you bow your heads with me wherever you are? I'm going to ask if you'd be kind enough not to move around or get up or any of those things. It's super distracting to people and we're going to take a few minutes here to do something. You're in a judgment-free zone right now. You're in a condemnation-free zone. But I know that there are people in this room in the East Worship Center watching us on television wherever they may be. I know there's people that need to do business with God and we want to give you an opportunity to do that. Doesn't matter what the issue is. The Holy Spirit can point that out in your heart. But I want to have an opportunity to pray over you, and I want you to get free. I want Jesus to meet you right where you are and to free you; to loose shackles, to break bonds in your life. And He can do that. Not me, Him. And He's here. He wants to do that but you've got to come into the light.
So what I'm going to do is, in just a moment, I'm going to open up the front down here and certainly in the East Worship Center as well. It's just going to be open for you. And as a physical sign that you're going to be doing business with God that's good for you, I'm going to ask you in a moment to just excuse yourself, even if somebody's bowing their head next to you, just excuse yourself and come down here, and you can just get on your knees and you can pray here and do business with God. And in a moment I'm going to pray over you.
Now here's what I want you to understand, no judgment here. In fact, there are times when people think to themselves I could never do that because I'm afraid that I would be lesser looking in the eyes of the pastor, or lesser looking in the eyes of the people. I want you to understand something. If you're bringing things into the light, I would never look at that as lesser. You would grow in my eyes. My respect for you would grow because you're willing to be authentic and to be honest. Do you want to play the part or do you want to be the part? This is what we're called to.
So I'm going to ask you wherever you are, in this room or in the East Worship Center, you can do the same thing there. If you need to do some business with the Lord right now, I want you to just come down here and take a knee. Right where we are, right down front. Anybody at all. Come on down. Thanks. Come on down. I'll wait on you for just a moment. If somebody excuses themself near you, then just please move out of the way so that they can come up here. Come on down. Even from the back, I'll let you ... give you a moment. And while you're down here, I want you just to do business with the Lord wherever you are; whatever it is that you've got to deal with.
This just is an act of coming down and taking, and then you're just saying ... taking what's going on in my heart and I'm bringing it into the light. I just want to do business with the Lord. If it's full up here, you can spill into the aisles. That's okay, it's no problem. Whether you came or whether you sat, none of this makes one more spiritual or less spiritual. This is about the heart, and God sees all the hearts. So wherever you are, I want you to do business with the Lord.
If you're in this room, I've left this up on the TV if you need to think about some steps that you're having to take. You can still see that. It's on the screens for you.
So, Father, you see every single person, whether they're seated in a seat or whether they've come down here to pray. You know every heart. Nothing escapes you. And I'm glad for that, God, because You're a good father. And sometimes as a good father, You rest Your heavy hand upon us because Your desire for us is to live in the light, unburdened, shackle-free, outside of prison cells instead of being pulled back into the darkness. Because as children of God, as children of light that's not who we are. We're different than that.
I pray for each of these folks who've made a physical gesture of bringing whatever is going on in their heart, whatever the issue is maybe that's been tucked away or stowed away, that they're physically as a stake in the ground. They're bringing this into the light, and Jesus, when we come to You even though we are weary and heavy laden, You have said You will give us rest. You invite us to come, that we're not scared of the light, we embrace it because it's in the light that every chain falls off. The things that are holding us and binding us melt away in the glory of Your marvelous, matchless light.
I pray that the silent sound that we're hearing in our imaginations right now are bonds breaking and chains falling and prison cells opening because people are willing to come and agree with You, God, on sin, and agree with You, God about their need for Your restoration and Your hope.
I pray that You will remind them of Your love, that for those that are down here who've been transformed by You that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because the law of the spirit of life has set us free from the law of the spirit of death; that you've taken care of our sin already. But then maybe we've interrupted our fellowship with You. Would You lead them, God, to places of obedience in such a way that they would make this right before You, and that they would make it right with, if there are individuals to whom are involved or are in need of offering forgiveness. Give them wisdom to do what You've asked them to do so that they can live free, unburdened in the light because then we can fellowship with one another in authenticity and fellowship with You in joy.
I pray that You would do this for my brothers and sisters, whom I love. And I pray You would do it for Your glory, God. In Jesus' name, amen.