Have you ever known someone who was living a life of secret sin? Maybe someone you read about in a news story, maybe it was someone in your life, like a church or work friend, maybe it was someone very close to you like a spouse or child… or maybe even closer yet, maybe it was you? You may know, from seeing these things unfold, how destructive a life of secret sin can be… you may have suffered from discovering your loved one was living this life or you may be on the other side, living in secret sin right now.
Whatever reason you have for reading this article it is my hope you will find some words of encouragement that can help you through a season of secret sin… either in your own life or someone else’s.
Before we go any further, I have a confession… or more accurately a testimony.
In June of 2016 I was taken to the emergency room after having a nervous breakdown at my job, a job I have hated for nearly 13 years. That night I nearly had a stroke with blood pressure that was through the roof… my weight had ballooned to over 340 lbs. A few weeks later I had to confess to my Pastor and men’s group that I was secretly watching pornography while lying to everyone I know.
I was living a life of secret sin, and it nearly destroyed me.
The only reason I sit here, writing this article, is by the sheer grace of my God and savior Jesus Christ. In the past 11 months he has restored my life and elevated me to higher levels spiritually than I have ever been. For the first time in nearly 30 years I enjoy going to work each day (yes the same job). I have lost over 20 lbs on my way to a healthy weight of 220 lbs. My leadership position in the church has been restored as I co-lead the men’s group and lead a safety and security team. But most importantly my marriage is ascending to new levels every day.
Most of my life I lived in secret sin, I didn’t know it for most of those years, because I only came to know Jesus 10 years ago… but even as a non-believer I lived a lie. My thoughts and actions filled with lust and hatred… no one knew about my secret addiction to pornography. This addiction took hold of me when I was very young, maybe 10 years old. I remember sneaking into a neighbor’s house when they went to work and finding an unmarked black VHS tape by the TV. To this day I can recall the pornographic images on that tape with great clarity If I allow my mind to go there. Even at that age I knew what I was looking at was wrong, and something I wanted to hide from others.
Hiding, secrecy, lies… these are parts of my life I became very skilled at, but over time I realized now how absolutely exhausting it is to live that double life. To keep up with all the lies and deception at every turn, lies create more lies and pretty soon you forget what you told everybody.
Today I live a completely open life. All of my past sins have been confessed to God and other trusted believers (James 5:16), and I live each day in the Grace and Forgiveness of God. Having lived the double-minded life, with one foot in the world and one foot in the church… and living now with a clear conscience, I can tell you how much better life is when you leave your secret sin behind.
Do you have secret sin in your life?
This section of the article is written specifically for you if you answered yes to that question. You must understand it is only a matter of time, before your sin is revealed (Luke 12:2, Numbers 32:23, Proverbs 26:26). You have a choice to make, and I urge you to make the right choice… RIGHT NOW.
If you continue in your secret sin, I promise you that nothing but death and destruction await you (James 1:14-15, Proverbs 13:6, Romans 6:23, Proverbs 14:12). As you read my testimony above I hope you understand that your entire life can be shattered by sin, from your marriage and family to your health, career and finances.
Probably the most popular verse on the double-minded life is Matthew 6:24…
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. ~ESV (Emphasis Added)
When this verse talks about two masters, it is not just referring to money, it is applicable to any area of bondage in your life… pornography, drugs, alcohol or gambling for example. There are many real consequences to living in continual secret sin you need to be aware of:
- Your prayers are hindered when you live a life of sin (Isaiah 59:2, Psalm 66:18). You effectively cut yourself off from God.
- Sin will cause you to fall into deeper and darker sin. Very much like a drug addiction, sin will soon lose its luster and it will take MORE to satisfy your fleshly desire for sinful pleasure. This will lead to riskier and more deadly behavior.
- Others in your life will be harmed by your sin. The far reaching effects of sin can never be understated. You will never know how far reaching your sinful activities effect others… but take my word for it… the circle of destruction you create with your sin is vast.
- Your light will be dimmed. As Christians were are called to be the salt and light of the world (Matthew 5:13-16) and we are armed with two weapons, the Word of God and our Testimony. When others around you discover your secret sin, your light is all but blown out.
- Eventually it will kill you (Romans 6:23).
So what is the way out of secret sin?
First and foremost you must understand there is only one path forward to escape this vicious cycle of sin you have created. You must surrender your life to Jesus Christ and this begins with your mind. You might be thinking, “I am a Christian I already gave my life to Christ…” but I am not talking about asking Christ into your life, I am talking about a total surrender. Right now you are fighting every day to keep your sin hidden from others, you are living a life of lies and deceit that never seems to end. You are going through life for YOU YOU YOU. All of the sin you pursue is for your own pleasure or escapism, all of your lies are to protect a world you have fabricated. Your pride keeps you thinking you have it all under control, that you can stop anytime you feel like it.
But I have news for you… you are in big trouble.
Look back in time to your past sin. Do you remember how short-lived the pleasure of that sin was? Do you remember how painful it was to everyone when you got caught doing it? How much damage you caused? Below is a chart that illustrates the contrast between the pleasure sin provides versus the consequences it rains down on your life:
It seems so illogical to take part in a sinful activity, when you have a clear understanding of the pain and destruction it will bring… and yet we still chase after it… why?!
Proverbs 18:1 provides the answer: “A man who isolates himself, seeks his own desire. He rages against all wise judgement.”
That sounds a lot like you right? You have isolated yourself, at least when you are lost in sin. You are seeking your own selfish fleshly desires and wise judgement goes right out the window. This is probably the single biggest obstacle for Co-dependents to overcome… how their loved one could willingly and knowingly partake in behavior that is so destructive.
What does it mean to surrender?
My friend Johnny is a professional boxer. He has grown up his whole life with a sword in his hand, fighting his way through all of the tough times, climbing on his own power. Trying everything he can to elevate his life to new levels. In the world of boxing to surrender means defeat, throwing in the towel, waving the white flag, giving up. God’s Word teaches us that surrender is the only pathway to final and eternal victory, in fact it is that same surrender that will give you true joy and fulfillment in life. Money will never give you victory in life, possessions will pass away with time and few human relationships will weather the storms of your journey.
You must come to a place in your life where you finally understand that doing life your way is not working… you need to surrender. Stop trying to control everything, get on your knees wherever you are and cry out to God right now!
Don’t know what to say? Try this prayer for starters:
Father God in Heaven, I beg of you, I plead with you to take me as I am, to take control of my life from this point on. Father I have tried to live life on my terms, I have tried to hold onto every decision in my life and yes Father I have been living a life of hidden secret sin. Father, thank you for the sacrifice of your Son Jesus Christ on that cross. Thank you for being the God of second, third and fourth chances. Thank you for always loving me and never turning your back on me, even as I walked away from you. Today is the day Father, the day that I truly surrender to your will in my life. Please Father forgive me for my sins (name your sins specifically) and cleanse me of all unrighteousness. Look into my heart Father and know that I no longer want to hide anything from you, please use me to build your kingdom as you see fit. I pray all of these things in the mighty name of your Son, our King of Kings, the name above all names… Jesus Christ. Amen.
This is a good start, but now you need to bring your sins to the light. If you are in a leadership position in your local church, you need to set up a meeting with your Pastor as soon as possible and open up your hidden sin. Next you need to find a safe environment where you can share with other Christians what you are struggling with. For me this vehicle was Celebrate Recovery, which is a Christ-centered 12 step program designed to help anyone who’s life is spiraling out of control in sin.
If you don’t have an official Celebrate Recovery group near you, ask your church what support groups are in the area. They will probably have many resources for you to explore. Confessing your sins to another human is a critical element to your healing process (James 5:16) and one that cannot be overlooked. But please note, you must be discerning about who you share with. If your sharing causes injury in someone else, then don’t share with that person! That is the great aspect of Celebrate Recovery, the men or women you share with are people you probably don’t know, and if you do know them, they have their own struggles. You must feel safe sharing with these people, and know you won’t be judged by anyone in the group.
Now that you have cried out to God, brought your hidden sin to light and confessed your sin, it is time to focus on your relationship with Jesus Christ. There are Four Pillars that make up the Christian Faith and by spending time building these Four Pillars in your life you will create a strong foundation on the Truth that is Jesus Christ (John 14:6).
The Four Pillars:
- Prayer. John 16:24.
- Word of God. Hebrews 4:12.
- Fellowship. Ephesians 2:19-22.
- Service. Matthew 5:16.
When you deepen your faith, focus on building your relationship with Jesus Christ and live every day for Him… the urge to sin will lessen over time. You will begin feeding your spiritual nature and starving your flesh. As your spirit grows stronger, your resistance to temptation grows stronger as well. This is not to say you will ever be free of temptation, because this side of Heaven you will never be free… even Jesus himself was tempted (Luke 4:1-2). But you can have victory over temptation just as Jesus did… and each small victory will build upon the last. Part of that surrender is living life one day, even one step at a time. Tomorrow will worry about itself (Matthew 6:34), so why worry about something you cannot control?
I will close with this final thought, actually a quote:
“How can the past and future be, when the past no longer is, and the future is not yet? As for the present, if it were always present and never moved on to become the past, it would not be time, but eternity.”― Augustine of Hippo,
Maybe we should all be a little more “eternity-minded”.
Stay Strong & Stand Tall