“You have set our iniquities before you; our secret sins in the light of your presence”
If you’re ever a guest in my home, there’s one important bit of information you need to know—-don’t look in any of my closets. For the first five years we were married, we moved five times. That meant I was forced into drastic organizing and purging every year. After three years in our current home with two children under two, though, I started feeling overwhelmed by disorganization. I couldn’t figure out what the problem was. Then, I realized–not moving plus young children plus me working more and more hours equaled messy closets. It was simple math.
My home is never spotless now, but it does have its moments of looking generally clean, usually after the girls have gone to bed or before they wake up in the morning. Still, no matter how clean it looks to a visitor, behind the closet doors lurks mess.
I’m essentially no different. Generally, I’m pretty “clean” looking. To most people, it probably looks as if I have my life in order and, by God’s tremendous grace, I’m not struggling with the big, public, noticeable sins.
It’s in the hidden closets of my heart that you can find the sins, all jumbled together and in disorder from lack of purging. These are the deep down sins like jealousy, pride, anger, coveting, impatience, and impure motives. They are the things that I really haven’t needed to clean out before. I thought that as long as they were truly private–just between God and me—I didn’t need to deal with them. I could just pretend they didn’t exist and act as if my heart was as clean as the exterior of me looked.
In her book, Me, Myself and Lies, Jennifer Rothschild says, “I slip into cleaning the outside of my cup and neglecting the inside.” She’s comparing herself to a Pharisee. It’s a comparison that most of us wouldn’t generally be honest enough to make.
Yet, Jesus said:
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
Sometimes I want God just to shove my sins into closets rather than allowing Him to do the deep cleaning and purging necessary in my life. This deprives me of true freedom, of authenticity, of pureness of heart, and of greater intimacy with Him. It makes me an unusable cup and a whitewashed tomb, no better than a Pharisee.
God desires more than a superficial relationship with us, though, so He’s constantly using circumstances and other people to bring these secret sins to the surface so that He can cleanse us completely.
King David told his son Solomon that “the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts” (1 Chronicles 28:9). In his Psalm, Moses wrote, “You have set our iniquities before you; our secret sins in the light of your presence” (Psalm 90:8). God always knows our motivations and the condition of our heart.
Sometimes I’m embarrassed and ashamed to come before Him because He knows the ugliest parts of my soul. That’s one of the amazing things about God, though—-He sees us fully and loves us completely. Chris Tomlin sings about this in Indescribable: “You see the depths of my heart and You love me the same.” To me, that’s just as miraculous as His creation of the universe.
This process of cleaning out the hidden places of our heart is painful and hard at times. It means being vulnerable enough to let God bring sin to the surface. It involves confession and repentance, and not allowing those thoughts and motives to find their way back in again. It requires us to put aside the facade of perfection and deal with the fact that we’re sinners.
Still, the pain serves a purpose. Job 5:18 says, “He wounds, but He also binds up; He injures, but His hands also heal.” God doesn’t leave us hurting and injured. It’s only when we allow Him to clean out the source of infection–our deep sins—that our broken hearts can heal. It’s only when He has purged our secret sins that we are free. As Jennifer Rothschild writes: “Oh the freedom authenticity brings!”
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2011 Heather King