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I’m not suggesting that you broadly share your sins, faults, or mistakes. I’m speaking of your willingness (or unwillingness) to share your life and relationships with others. Whether you share your life with others depends on several things, but your desire to do so reveals your motivation and what has the most control over you. Suppose God’s opinion of you has the most control over your life. In that case, you have your answer: You are a humble, God-centered, God-glorifying, sin-mortifying, Christlike example more concerned with Christ’s reputation than your own. But if you are more concerned with what others think, to the point that you are motivated to hide your sin, you are in more trouble than you could ever imagine. Listen to David.
For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer (Psalm 32:3-4).
King David lived in both extremes. After he had committed adultery, he began to cover his tracks for about a year. Because he was not willing to come clean regarding his sin, the Lord did for him what he was not going to do for himself. The merciful Lord sent Nathan to break his heart and expose his deception. Before Nathan’s visit, David commented on what his life was like when he tried to bury the sin he committed. If this is you, study Psalm 32:3-4 carefully. If this passage does not put the fear of God in you, perhaps you are in deeper weeds than you realize.
David lied and connived for nearly twelve months, pretending all was well when all was unwell. He was trying to ignore what he did, though he could not hide his sin from the one who could see into the dark. There is only one way to escape from what had captured his heart: walking through the door of humility, confession, honesty, and transparency. You and I can fake out each other, but we cannot deceive the Lord. Even if we could keep the illusion going for a season, there would eventually be a payday. The longer we resist the truth by holding on to lies, the more complicated our lives and relationships will become.
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).
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth (Romans 1:18).
Paul gives more insight into what David was experiencing when he laid out the degenerating process to the Romans of what happens when a person attempts to press the truth of God out of their lives. He talked about how God’s wrath—His angry displeasure—would rain down from heaven on anyone who lived in ungodly and unrighteous ways. Paul said this happened when people volitionally chose to press the truth of God from their lives. To suppress the truth is to squeeze it out of our lives. It is like pushing down on a balloon filled with water: the water shifts to the right and the left. It distorts what was once balanced.
When we press the truth of God from our lives by holding on to or propagating deception, we will have distorted souls. We cannot exchange the truth of God for a lie while worshipping the creature more than the Creator and expect distortion not to happen in some way (Romans 1:25). David did this though he knew the truth about God. He was a man after the Lord’s heart (1 Samuel 13:14), but he chose a path of sin. The sadness is not so much about the kind of immorality (adultery) that he picked, which is bad enough, but the deception he propagated after his transgression—a process that began to break down his body and soul. How could it be any other way?
Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts (Hebrews 4:7).
In Hebrews, we learn more about how ongoing and unrepented sin dulls our inner being. Do you understand the downward progression of someone who refuses to deal rightly with sin? While the physical debilitation that David went through was horrible enough, the dulling of his conscience may have been the worst of all. The conscience (Latin: Co-Knowledge) is our inner voice. The conscience is the moral thermostat that tells us when we are doing what is right or wrong. Suppose your inner voice becomes dull of hearing (Hebrews 5:11). In that case, you are unhooking yourself from God’s morality while choosing a path that appears to be wise from your vantage point (Isaiah 5:21).
Paul said people like this were not wise, but fools (Romans 1:22). Uncoupling oneself from God’s morality with no moral compass releases the individual to be a god of his life (Proverbs 14:12). The worst case of this is Lucifer. Though no one will do what he did, there are no known limits to what a depraved soul can do without God’s restrictions. Sometimes people ask, “Can you believe what [he] did?” Almost without exception, I say, “I can believe it. If [he] has been living apart from God in a self-absorbed way. I am surprised you are surprised by their actions.”
Paul talked about this perspective to his young protegé, Timothy, as he was teaching him what could happen when deceitfulness and insincerity were in play. He said people participating in such things would sear their consciences (1 Timothy 4:2). A seared co-knowledge is equivalent to the cattleman placing an orange-hot iron brand on the cow’s rump to the point of searing its hide. The seared spot does not have any sensation. Callousness is a dangerous thing when it happens to a person’s conscience. David was heading that way. He was willfully exchanging the truth of God for a lie, and he was not about to alter his course. Fortunately, someone loved him enough to do for him what he was not going to do for himself. Enter Nathan.
Nathan said to David, “You are the man!” (2 Samuel 12:7).
The Lord nudged Nathan to go to his friend. You know the story. One of the fantastic things about this story is that David did not get the point of Nathan’s fictitious monologue (2 Samuel 12:1-6). Nathan was talking, and David was not hearing (Matthew 11:15). He was so blind, detached, dull, and determined to hide his sin that he did not have ears to hear or eyes to see. Nathan stopped beating around the sheep gate with his sheep story and spoke plainly to David. Never underestimate the hardening process of the conscience when a person refuses to own their sin. Do not expect them to see what is right in front of them. It is as plain as the nose on your face because you are walking in the light. Light does that to a person. Any person, including Christians, can walk in darkness. John reminded believers of this truth when discussing how sin can complicate the Christian’s life.
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 cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:7-8).
David was saying, “I have no sin.” If John were there, he would respond, “You have deceived yourself, and the truth is not in you.” That is why David could not understand what Nathan was trying to accomplish. If we are sitting around waiting for a person—who is willfully pressing the truth of God out of their lives—to come clean, we may not only be sitting around for a long time, but we may be culpable. We could be enabling them in their sin because we did not speak the truth to them—the Word they could not see. After all, they turned off the light in their souls. Do not underestimate the power of sin. Do not underestimate what it can do to a person’s conscience. Do not think you have no moral responsibility to bring the light to them so they can see. I’m not suggesting their sin is your fault, but Christianity is not a spectator sport. God expects us to be active, secondary agents in each others’ lives.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy (Proverbs 27:6).
Wounding David is the kindest thing Nathan could do for his friend. Saying hard things reminds me of my favorite quote from my former professor, Wayne Mack. When thinking about doing hard things to someone, he said, “You can hate me now and love me later, or you can love me now and hate me later.” I doubt David ever hated Nathan for what he did, but there is no question that Nathan brought pain into David’s life. Nathan loved him so much that he had no choice but to hurt his friend. If you logically follow David’s downward progression in Psalm 32:3-4, there seems to be little question that David was deteriorating physically and spiritually by the day.
David’s confession in that Psalm reads like he would not have lived much longer. Things went wrong quickly for David. God’s mercy imposed itself on David’s life by sending someone to wound him. He reacted blindly, impulsively, and wrongly to Nathan’s sheep story. When he discovered he was the story’s leading actor, he shut his mouth, started listening, and later responded appropriately (Job 40:4-5). Without interruption, he let his friend speak. The fantastic news is that the Spirit quickened his hard heart once his eyes were open, and he knew immediately what he did and how to respond. When Nathan finished, David said the only thing that needed to be said, “I have sinned against the LORD” (2 Samuel 12:13). Six words summed it up.
There was nothing else to say because nothing else mattered at that moment. David sinned against more people than the Lord, but only one thing mattered at that moment. This point brings us to my opening statement: “Are you more concerned about what God thinks about your sin or what others think about your sin? How you answer this question will determine the quality of your life and the way you interact with your friends.” After David had sinned, he plotted a deceptive plan to cover up his actions. He hurt many people in the process. The only thing that mattered was for others not to know what he did. It was a bold move for someone after the Lord’s heart.
How could someone be so connected to God and be so self-deceived? David’s life is a call for us to do reflective self-examination. If someone who loved God so much could fall so far, how much more possible is it for you or me to detach our hearts from the truth we know? While his adultery was horrendous and his deception was causing physical and spiritual suicide, the fantastic thing about this story is his restoration. Like the prodigal son, the only thing that mattered to him was restoration (Luke 15:17-22). You can discern a person’s sincerity by the radicalness of their repentance. The prodigal son threw in the white towel and gave up all control of his life to his father. David did similarly.
I am not suggesting you broadcast your sin to the world, but I am suggesting you be willing to do anything necessary to restore what sin destroyed. In David’s case, you see how he walked out his repentance: He broadcasted it to the world: Psalm 32:1-11 and Psalm 51:1-19. The most effective way for us to test the genuineness of our repentance is by giving up control of the situation to those we trust and who have proven themselves faithful to the practical applications of God’s Word in our lives. If our repentance is more about controlling the outcomes, we are not in a repenting frame of mind. But if we are willing to give up control of our lives and situations by humbly submitting to those who can help us, we should expect God’s fantastic favor (James 4:6).
Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit (Psalm 32:1-2).
Rick launched the Life Over Coffee global training network in 2008 to bring hope and help for you and others by creating resources that spark conversations for transformation. His primary responsibilities are resource creation and leadership development, which he does through speaking, writing, podcasting, and educating.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and, in 1991, a BS in Education. In 1993, he received his ordination into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).