Have any deeply hidden sins?
“Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.” (Psalm 51:6, ESV)
When David wrote Psalm 51, he spoke about his own weaknesses. He acknowledged his own sin and need for mercy. David realized that within his heart and soul there was a tendency to go in two spiritual directions. He either was going toward God or away from God. His soul was either inclined to God’s mercy or mired in deep-seated sin. Upon considering these concepts, David wrote the scripture given above. As he reflected, he wrote that God “delights in truth in the inward being” (Psalm 51:6). Buried deep in his “inward being”, David felt a desire to have God’s presence. Thus, he finished the scripture for today with the request that God “teach him wisdom in the secret heart” (Psalm 51:6b).
Deep in your “inward being” is a “secret heart”. Nobody but you and God know what is in there. All people keep a part of them hidden. They might hide shame there. Memories that are precious or maybe frightful will often be found in that inward secret heart. However, some deep-seated sins may also lurk there, hidden from human view. These sins are not just little errors in judgment. Often, they are big sins that linger on long after they need to be discussed with God. Some people bury thoughts and memories deep in their inward secret heart. Shame or hurt or love or grace put them there. These memories can be beautiful in that inward secret heart. There can also be deep-seated sin… hidden from scrutinizing, hidden from all.
James came to his parish on a day and time when confession was offered. He felt he needed to talk to his priest about something buried in that inward secret heart. For years, he had harbored a hatred for his neighbor. The neighbor had taken him to court over a land dispute. Rather than the two working something out, the neighbor hired an expensive land surveying firm. The neighbor found out that the James had been farming a piece of his land ten feet wide by three hundred feet long. James had no idea the land belonged to his neighbor. James’ family had farmed that section of land for almost a century. The neighbor, upon finding out about the issue, demanded that James pay him for all the crops EVER harvested there. The lawsuit amounted to a million dollars. James was worried that if the neighbor won the case, he might lose his land. James thought his neighbor had done him wrong. In that confession booth that day, James told his priest that deep inside his heart, he wished his neighbor was dead. James dreamed about murdering his neighbor. He even prayed that God curse his neighbor. James also confessed that he couldn’t sleep sometimes and was often sick to his stomach over the stress. The priest urged James to give all his anger and resentment and inner hatred to God, keep confessing any sin in this area, and make some kind of atonement for this sin.
At first, James felt hurt that his own priest did not side with him. Then, James grew angry at having to not only face the lawsuit but suffer for these thoughts. He thought to himself how unfair it was to not only be saddled with this lawsuit but carry all the weight of anger and resentment around every day. For a few days, James had a negative attitude and carried a chip on his shoulder. However, with time, James began to ask for God’s forgiveness. He envisioned himself putting all his resentment into a box and placing it at the cross before Jesus. Soon, James felt his heart lighten a bit as the resentment and bitterness and anger receded from his inward secret heart. He could sleep fitfully at night again. He often ended his days with thanks to God, even though the court case still loomed over the farm.
Like James, you may have issues in your inward secret heart. You might have something weighing heavy upon you. Is there something you have buried there? Is there a joyful memory stored there for you to recall when life gets stressful, or do you feel burdened? What lies in your inward secret heart; is it good or evil, joyful or bitter, lovely or ugly?
Many people in the Bible dealt with issues that could have blackened their inward secret heart. Some dealt with these issues. Some died because of them. David himself, the author of Psalm 51, had to work through adultery and murder with God. Despite trying to hide them from others, he eventually had to confess them before God and God’s people. Only then did David find peace. Moses, too, dealt with murder. Noah did shameful things when drunk. Samson faced fornication and disloyalty with Delilah. Saul visited a witch, hoping for a blessing. Peter had to work through his denial of Jesus. Judas had to face his betrayal. Some of these biblical people ended up with clean hearts and forgiven sins. Some took their sins to their graves. The scripture for today explains that God “delights” when truth lies in the inward secret heart. God is pained when only bitterness, resentments, and hidden sin linger there.
Matt Caple wrote a meditation online (members.cogwa.org). In that meditation, Matt explained how he got rid of a few dead trees on his large property. He bought equipment to shear the branches and cut down the trees to the stumps. Then, he applied a chemical to break down the stumps. After doing this, he noticed a year later that one thorny locust stump sprouted a dozen new offshoots. He had forgotten to apply chemicals to that stump and its roots spread. It sent out roots to sprout a dozen new unwanted trees in that area.
Upon realizing his error, Matt felt God giving him an object lesson with that stump. He wrote:
“Working to remove the physical roots of old, dead trees led me to think about removing the spiritual roots of sins that we think are old and dead—but may not be as dead as we think. As I worked diligently to remove the roots of thorny locust trees from the ground, my thoughts drifted to removing the roots of sin that were spiritually thorny problems.
Leaving untreated tree roots in the ground is like removing the outward display of sin but leaving the inner motivations of those sins buried deep down inside. When the root of sin remains, these sins will sprout up again—usually in a time of weakness.
Like apples hanging from a tree, sin is dependent on its roots. An apple tree cannot produce pears, nor can an orange tree make avocados. Consequently, removing fruit will not change the identity of the tree. We remove the actions of sin as we repent, but we need to go further and root out the desire so the sin doesn’t sprout again.”
Be mindful of what lies in that inward secret heart of yours. It will affect everything in your life. What lies therein may sprout nasty tentacles or may sprinkle little bits of joy throughout your day depending on what it contains. What have you buried in that inward secret heart? Is it something God delights in or something that needs rooting out?