It’s a foregone conclusion that everyone reading this article right now has sinned before in their life (Rom. 3:23). It’s also more than likely a foregone conclusion that one of those sins was something that you were ashamed of (Gen. 3:8-13). And probably, if I’m judging with correct motives here, we’ve all tried to hide that sin from God or man rather than pronounce it outright, only to fail miserably (Zeph. 3:5). Just one question then. How did that feel? How did it feel when you woke up every morning knowing you had done something wrong, but were hoping that you’d be able to sweep it under the rug, or push it behind the old dresser in the corner, only to be reminded of it constantly, day after day…after day?

If we’re honest with ourselves, I bet most of us would say that it ate us up inside. And if you did, you’re in good company. David wrote in Psalm 32:3-4, after being confronted by his sin with Bathsheba: “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.” One gets the impression from the rest of his groaning in Psalm 32 that the “Selah” at the end of that statement, marking a break in the melody of the psalm, is as much for his pain as it is for musicianship. Nevertheless, most of us have found ourselves in that position before, hiding the shame of a sin so deep inside of ourselves that the thought of confronting it and owning up to it is almost incomprehensible. I would know, I’ve recently dealt with that matter in my own life, and a good friend (read: Melina) was able to help me through it. It’s a lonely place to go through, believing that not only will everyone judge you for it, but that you, and you alone, are all alone in that battle.

A story is told about a young woman that was leading a stress management seminar, holding a glass of water in her hand, with everyone in the room knowing that she was going to ask the inevitable question: “Half empty or half full?” Instead, she asked another question: “How heavy is this glass of water?” With answers ranging out from 8oz to 20oz, the woman replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter; it depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you’ll have to call an ambulance. In each case it’s the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” And such it is with sin. We can hold onto the shame as long as we want to, convincing ourselves that we don’t have a problem, or we can put the glass down, admit we need help, and go to God in prayer and repentance. Only one option makes the pain go away.

In a similar passage, Psalm 38:3-4, David discusses the end result of holding on to a sin for so long: “There is no soundness in my flesh because of Thy indignation, there is no healthy in my bones because of my sin. For my iniquities are gone over my head; as a heavy burden they weigh too much for me.” Going on about the decay of his spirit and soul, David acknowledges that the end result for anyone who is rebellious towards God’s mercy, knowing that their sin is ever present, is a body that wastes away and becomes useless. Like a wound that “fouls and festers” (Psalm 38:5), our sin becomes so poisonous to our soul that we end up defiant and arrogant. 

The ultimate folly of the sinner is that they would rather accept the reality of their current situation than acknowledge the relief of forgiveness, a decision that only Satan himself would be able to pull off. But the fact that David makes abundantly clear at the end of Psalm 32 is the relief associated with this acceptance: “He who trusts in the Lord, lovingkindness shall surround him. Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous ones, and shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.”

Last modified: February 18, 2019