“Everybody's got a secret Sonny
Something that they just can't face
Some folks spend their whole lives trying to keep it
They carry it with them every step that they take”
These lyrics come to us from Bruce Springsteen’s classic song “Darkness On The Edge of Town” which comes off of his 1978 album of the same name. As I was listening to this I began to think about how often times we try to keep our sin covered up and out of the light of day. We are afraid of what may happen to us if we dare to confess our secret sin to another person because we fear what kind of shock or judgment we may receive in return. Worse yet some of us refuse to even confess our sin to God, which when you ultimately think about it is ridiculous because God is all knowing to begin with, so we technically can have no secrets from Him (Psalm 44:21).
King David found out devastating trying to cover up sin can be, when he had an affair with one of his soldier’s wives (Bathsheba) and then, when she told King David she was pregnant, he had her husband put in the front lines of battle to ensure that he would be killed. (2 Samuel 11) At the very end of chapter 11 we are told that “the Lord was very displeased with what David had done” (v. 27b). Therefore the Lord sent Nathan the prophet to tell King David a story that illustrated led David to openly confess his sin to Nathan and the Lord. However, the Lord punished David for his sin, as the baby born to Him from Bathsheba was struck ill and died. While God ultimately forgave David for the sin of adultery and sending a man to his ultimate death on the battle field, He did not let that sin go unpunished.
I would like to address confessing sins to another person for a moment. This is very important for us as Believers to do, and something that we are commanded to do in James 5:16: “Confess your sins to each other and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results” (NLT). Notice specifically that James doesn’t tell us that when a fellow Believer confesses a sin to us that we are to judge them; quite the contrary, he tells us to pray with them so that God can heal the wound in their heart caused by that un-confessed sin. Don’t get me wrong, God does hear our prayers when we confess our sins to Him directly as well (1 John 1:9), but I believe there can be more power in helping us to stop repeated patterns of sin in our lives when we confess them to another Christian.
Let me also address the concept of “darkness” that Springsteen writes about in the song that I quoted at the beginning of this post. I believe that the ‘darkness on the edge of town’ that he is singing about can be interpreted as a metaphor for the place we all tend to hide our dark secrets. You see as we continue to hide things out of the light and in the darkness, the darkness gets darker and darker and threatens to take over our lives. Jesus told us in John 3:19b-20 that the world “loved darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. They hate the light because they want to sin in the darkness. They stay away from the light for fear their sins will be exposed and they will be punished.” (NLT)
While confessing sin to another person is scary and intimidating it also allows us to openly admit that we are human and desperately in need of God’s Grace. I can’t completely tell you why, but in my personal experiences when I have confessed my sin to another Christian whom I trust, I have experienced God’s Grace in a way that I haven’t when I confessed that same sin to God directly. It also allows me to have accountability with another person who can ask me how I am doing in my Christian Walk. I think this is what God desires for us, and why James tells us it is so important in the passage I quoted earlier.
God is a Gracious God, but he also needs for us to be willing to expose our sin in His light. As the Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:8 “though your hearts were once full of darkness, now you are full of light form the Lord, and your behavior should show it” (NLT). Once God has cleaned out our sin he wants to fill us with His light so that we can be like Jesus and be light that shines though the darkness (John 1:5). It is then that we can begin to illuminate those dark places on the edges of our own towns with the Gospel!