Psalm 90:8, “Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.”
Psalm 19:13, “Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.”
This morning, faults continually plague man, but pointing them out to him vexes man sometimes more than the faults themselves. We are all born into this world with the sin problem that tends to the mentality of thinking too much of ourselves. Even when someone wallows in the mud of self-pity – as set in stark contrast to self-boasting – they are still thinking too much of themselves as the focus is on us and/or our situation. Therefore, since man has such a “self problem,” the idea of his faults being manifest is deplorable to the fallen nature. Nobody likes being told that they are wrong, nor do we many times deal with the revelation of being wrong very well. Too many times, we lash out when our shortcomings are brought to our attention when in fact we should learn from them and take the rebuke patiently.
From our verses above, we read of two linked type of sins that pain man to consider. How many of us like to admit that we have secret sins that nobody else knows about? While this is not a suitable medium or expedient place for me to list those that bother me, this affliction is common to all. Moses’ prayer from Psalm 90 declares that he had them as well many centuries ago. However, Moses also understands that no matter how secret they may be, they are not secret to God. Moses’ language shows that secrets in our mind are set in the light of the Lord’s countenance. What is simply a thought and intent of our heart is naked and opened unto His eyes, manifest to the fullest degree. (Hebrews 4:12-13)
David’s language shows what seems to be a different type of sin. Moses spoke of sins that nobody, save God, knew about. David speaks of sins that are denoted by a word that I despised hearing growing up. When I was a young boy, my parents quite often said, “Stop being presumptuous.” For years I did not even know what the word meant, but the sound of it alone was bad enough to irritate me. When I finally looked the word up, it vexed me even more. The word “presumptuous” can be rendered insatiable, proud, arrogant, or a form of selfish. Whenever I heard that word growing up, I had generally just been condemned for doing something without permission due to my desire to do it coupled with an unremorseful attitude about it. Combining these actions and attitudes together, we discover what may be the worst form of sinful activity.
Presumption while engaged in sinful activity shows not only a willful disobedience but a raised hand of arrogance and defiance while doing so. David desired deliverance from such a place, and notice what the deliverance brought. By not being dominated by presumptuous sins, David was upright, innocent, and saved from the great transgression. While sinful activity is harmful and bad, not all sinful activity has the same consequences. For example, even the old law service punished sins differently. Murder was punished with death to the offender. Theft was punished by restoration fourfold by the offender. Eye would answer for an eye, stripe for a stripe, etc. Clearly, murder met with higher punishment than simple assualt did. Presumptuous sins create greater transgressions than would a sin of ignorance or omission.
Now the question might arise, “So what is the connection between presumptuous sins and secret sins?” Let us consider for a moment, as unpleasant as it may be, what secret sins dominate our lives. What do we struggle with the most daily or weekly? Those things may be quite different from person to person, but what bothers us most? Do they seem like small things to our minds? Secret sins are, by their nature, things that we might consider minor points in our own minds. However, notice that these things, while considered small in comparison to murder, vex our fellowship with God the most. These things keep us back more than anything else from sweet companionship with Him. Why do they continue?
The reason these things continue is simply this: we believe the secrecy aspect of them enough to justify continuing in them. Since nobody else knows about them, we arrogantly and selfishly continue to fill up our minds and private actions with them. Putting that attitude into the perspective, we see that secret sins are inherently presumptuous as well. They are presumtuous in the way we look and think about them, and they are presumptuous due to our lack of desire to correct them. Whether sins of the mind or private actions, these things highly offend God due to our selfishness to continue in them.
The Bible records some secret sins that were brought to light and manifest. David’s horrible actions with Bathsheba and Uriah are a good example of the Lord bringing to light not only what was known in secret but also the presumption (arrogance) of David to think he could hide and cover it up. (II Samuel 11-12) Annanias and Sapphira covetously held back money when coming to the apostles, and lied to the Holy Ghost. For their presumptuous, secret disobedience, they were struck down dead by the mouth of Peter. (Acts 5) These two suffice to make the point that the Lord knows what we do, and sometimes manifests such to bring down the arrogance of presumption.
Now, after labouring through such unpleasant material, what should we learn from linking the thoughts of presumption and secrecy? David prayed that the Lord keep him back from those things. Did he guiltily engage in them? Yes. Was he at times arrogant in his mindset about himself? Yes. Yet, he still desired deliverance from the daily plagues of sin guilt, even if they were things that nobody else knew. Is there daily guilt for you and me, even for things that perhaps nobody else knows? What is our answer? The answer is to simply take our case before the One that does know and beseech His help. We are not acquainting Him with anything, for His light already illuminates these things before Him. Yet, by petitioning His help to aid us in our daily fights, we display repentance from presumption that He never frowns upon. David, when guilty of presumption in secret sins now made manifest, declared that his broken spirit and contrite heart were not despised in the Lord’s sight. (Psalm 51:17)
Should our secret sins continue and continue, presumption dominates us. However, should they begin to lose their luster and appeal, then we can walk more upright, enjoying more and more times of sweet peace and fellowship with God. In such times, great transgressions are less, and mortification of the deeds of flesh abounds. While perfection eludes us, may we seek to produce less secret/presumptuous sins today than yesterday, less this week than last week, and less this year than last year. While I hate hearing the word presumptuous being applied to me, may I hate the action that brought the word even more. Should we despise the rebuke, we presumptuously uphold the sin. May the things that repulse God repulse us as well so that our lights would shine brighter and brighter in this dark and gloomy world.