God Knows What You Sweep Under the Rug

We’ve been discussing the temptations we face and the temptations that Jesus faced.  We have talked about how we give the devil and his minions too much credit because sometimes we are responsible for our own temptations.  But certainly, the devil does his fair of tempting us.  Between our own selfishness and the devil’s intent on using us to score points for his team, we are continuously faced with all sorts of temptations.  The chances of us giving in to temptations are high.  When that happens, how do we respond?   In our lesson this week is this statement.  “The way you deal with sin says a lot about what you believe about God.  If you think God will forgive your sin because it’s no big deal, your view of God is too small.  If you think that God will not forgive your sin because He is a harsh and angry God, your view of God is too small.”[i]

When we think of temptation in the Bible, more than likely, the story of Adam and Eve is what comes to mind. 

Genesis 3:6 GW “The woman saw that the tree had fruit that was good to eat, nice to look at, and desirable for making someone wise. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

Then their eyes were opened, and they both realized that they were naked. They sewed fig leaves together and made clothes for themselves.

In the cool of the evening, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking around in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees in the garden. The Lord God called to the man and asked him, “Where are you?”

10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden. I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.”

Adam and Eve had a very close relationship with God. They spoke to Him, listened to Him, walked with Him.  They had clear instructions from Him but chose to give in to temptation and disobey those instructions.  As a result, there was an immediate recognition that something was wrong.  Listen to verse 7 again.  “Then their eyes were opened, and they both realized that they were naked.”  There is no mention of the forbidden fruit they had just eaten.  Verse 7 doesn’t read: “Then their eyes were opened, and the fruit burst into flames.”  Nor does it read: “Then their eyes were opened, and they began to choke on the bites of fruit they were told not to eat.” 

Instead, because of their disobeying God and giving in to temptation, they saw things in a new light.  They had been naked before.  They weren’t the only nudists living in a world of fashion.  Nakedness was all they knew, but suddenly, they became ashamed of their nakedness. 

They then did two things.  They covered their nakedness and hid from God. 

We have the benefit of knowing the story of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the creation, and where Adam and Eve fit into all of that.  We can find humor that they thought it was possible to hide from God.  Whereas the current world population is over 8 billion[ii], at that time it was two.  If we, being 1 out of 8 billion can’t hide from God, how did they think it likely that they could keep Him from finding them?

They attempted to cover up their nakedness by sewing fig leaves together to create clothing.  And then they hid.  Scripture doesn’t mention that they attempted to cover up or hide the evidence of the fruit.  Whether it was an apple, banana, or some fruit that we don’t even know about, there is no mention of them burying the core, the peel, or the seeds.  Instead, they attempted to cover themselves and hide.

We know that God was not fooled, nor was He surprised at what took place.  He wasn’t sitting on His throne, biting His nails, wondering what would happen next.  He didn’t throw up His hands and yell, “Now what?”  He knew then and He knows now when His children are going to surrender to temptation.  Nothing we will ever do will ever surprise Him. 

John Piper said, ““Knowing the future, even the future of human decisions, is part of what it means to be God.”

When we submit ourselves to temptation rather than resist it, we can fall into one of three categories. 

We can fool ourselves into thinking that our sin is so tiny, it doesn’t matter.  The problem with that way of thinking is that tiny sins never stay tiny.  They grow. And grow. They multiply.  Borrowing the opening line from an old worship song, “It only takes a spark to get a fire going.” [iii]  It only takes a tiny sin to get a bigger sin going. The other problem with this way of thinking is that it is so contrary to God’s way of thinking.  Sin is sin. If we dismiss our sinfulness because it may pale in comparison to the sins of others, it’s time to reevaluate our walk with God. 

J. I. Packer once said, “There are no small sins against a great God.” 

If we genuinely see God as the Great I Am, there is no way we can view our slips into temptation as being small.  Instead, we should see each infraction, each violation, each slip-up as an offense to God. 

Have you ever had someone apologize to you and you ask them what they are apologizing for and they either can’t tell you or they’ll give a generic answer?  That makes the apology seem quite insincere, doesn’t it?  If someone can’t tell you the specific reason for their regrets, then you’d have to wonder if they were truly sorrowful.  Likewise, if we go to God and ask Him to forgive us for our sins without being specific, how repentant are we?  We certainly aren’t aware of all our wrongdoings. Psalm 19:12 GW makes that clear.  “Who can notice every mistake?  Forgive my hidden faults.” The Holy Spirit is our helper in that when we falter, the Holy Spirit will cause unrest within us. It’s up to us to pay attention to that and respond appropriately.

The second category is what we see Adam and Eve doing.  They knew they had done wrong and so, they tried to cover it up and hide from God.  They tried to rid themselves of the shame and guilt they were feeling by taking matters into their own hands.  Biblical Scholars describe this as the first demonstration of work salvation.  They did what they could think of to make up for what they had done wrong.  Instead of admitting their indiscretion, they tried to overcompensate by doing something else. They attempted to deceive God by covering up and hiding.  They were trying to deceive God.

Deception plays a huge role in temptation.  We are often seduced by temptation based on deception.  “No one will ever know.”  “It’s not that big of a deal.”  “I won’t let it get out of hand.”  Those lies that we tell ourselves or allow ourselves to believe pave the way for us to give in to what tempts us.  Then, on the other side of temptation, deception will also take place if we allow it.  “It was only once.  It won’t become a habit.”  “It’s not the worst thing I could have done.”  “My sins are forgiven, so all is good.” 

The unhealthiness of this is that we are hesitant to be honest with God and ourselves as to our sinfulness.  We sin, we know we’ve sinned, but instead of taking that sin to God and asking for His forgiveness, and turning away from that sinfulness, we just kind of sweep it under the rug and hope that God knows our heart.  We like to think we can make it up to Him by doing good things to prove ourselves to Him. 

But it doesn’t work that way.  Isaiah 59:2 NLT “It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore.” Sin on our part breaks our relationship with God.  A separation occurs. 

Imagine if you have a family member or a close friend who you know has said something offensive about you.  That would change your feelings towards that person, wouldn’t it?  Follow me here.  If that person knew that you knew what they said and didn’t come to apologize to you, the relationship would be strained.  Without discussing what took place and working it out with an apology and forgiveness, the connection is going to be splintered.  When we sin, we hurt God and we damage our relationship with Him. If we don’t confess that sin to Him with a sincere heart, our fellowship with Him is not the same.

But then comes that third category.  Confession on our end and restoration on God’s end.  This is what David writes about in Psalm 32.

Psalm 32:1 ESV “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
    whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
    and in whose spirit there is no deceit.”

David mentions transgression, sin, and iniquity.  Although we may choose to use those words interchangeably, there is a slight difference between them.

Transgression is a violation of trust.[iv]  Say, for instance, you have a friend in whom you confide something very personal, and that friend goes and shares that information with someone else.  That would be a transgression.

Sin is defined as missing the goal.[v]  Our goal as Christians is to become more Christ-like day by day.  When we give in to a temptation that causes us to not be Christ-like, that is a sin because we are missing the goal or the aim to be more like Him.

Iniquity indicates something that is twisted or crooked.[vi] It is “usually coupled with the idea of a conscious or deliberate attempt to do wrong.”[vii] This is the “I know it’s wrong, but I’m going to do it anyway” mentality. 

By mentioning all three of these – transgression, sin, and iniquity, every wrong thing we could ever do is covered.  Every misbehavior, willful misconduct, and “should have known betters” falls into one, if not more of these categories. 

And for every misstep we take, God has the cure.  Transgressions are forgiven.  Sins are covered.  Iniquities are not counted.  And those who take their transgressions, sins, and iniquities to God to be forgiven, covered, and erased are blessed.  There’s a phrase at the end of verse two that needs to be highlighted and underlined.  “In whose spirit there is no deceit.”

That means that an insincere plea for forgiveness doesn’t work.  That means that if we approach God with a false sense of repentance, He knows it.   If we ask for forgiveness with no genuine regret over what we’ve done, then we will not be blessed with His forgiveness.  There must be no deceit, falsity, or manipulation in our spirit when we ask God to wipe our sins away.

Charles Spurgeon said, “May God help you to be honest with yourself and honest with your God, who again invites you to reason with him, and entreats you not to be so unreasonable as to continue in sin and yet expect forgiveness.”

David’s eyes to his sinfulness were opened when he was presented with a parallel situation by Nathan the prophet.  Nathan posed a question to the King about a rich man who owned many sheep and cattle and took the one sheep belonging to a poor man.  King David burned with anger and responded.  “I solemnly swear, as the Lord lives,” he said to Nathan, “the man who did this certainly deserves to die! And he must pay back four times the price of the lamb because he did this and had no pity.”

“You are the man!” Nathan told David.” (2 Samuel 12:5 GW)

You see, much like David, we often find ourselves enraged over the actions of others while we find ourselves engorged with excuses and justification for our own actions. 

King David, a man after God’s own heart, illustrates how we are to approach God once we recognize our sin.  He went broken and ashamed but also acknowledged God’s mercy.  Psalm 51 is what David wrote about his conversation with Nathan the prophet.

Psalm 51:1 NIV “Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
    and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
    and justified when you judge.”

In this psalm, David admits his wrongs, recognizes that his actions were against God, and asks for God to show mercy on him.  David accepts the consequences of his behavior, even though it’s tough.

Psalm 32 is listed as a maskil which indicates it was written as a poem or a song. This was most likely written about David’s confession to God about his iniquities involving Bathsheba.  In verses 3-4, David writes of the consequences of unconfessed sin.  Psalm 32:3 ESV “For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
    through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
    my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah”

The words he uses paint quite the picture, don’t they?  Bones wasting away.  Groaning all day long.  Heaviness.  No strength.  Weariness. 

David in verses 3-4 makes us aware of the misery he experienced when he failed to repent of his sinfulness.   David’s misery was caused by unconfessed sin.  In fact, the misery of the unconfessed sin seemed to be much greater than the consequences of his sin.

2 Samuel 12:19 GW “But when David saw that his officials were whispering to one another, he realized that the child was dead. “Is the child dead?” David asked them.

“Yes, he is dead,” they answered.

20 So David got up from the ground, bathed, anointed himself, and changed his clothes. He went into the Lord’s house and worshiped. Then he went home and asked for food. They placed food in front of him, and he ate.

21 His officials asked him, “Why are you acting this way? You fasted and cried over the child when he was alive. But as soon as the child died, you got up and ate.”

22 David answered, “As long as the child was alive, I fasted and cried. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ 23 But why should I fast now that he’s dead? Can I bring him back? Someday I’ll go to him, but he won’t come back to me.”

There’s no mention of bones wasting away, groaning, heaviness, weariness, and lack of strength after his son dies.  Instead, David went immediately to worship God because their relationship had been restored and David had much to be thankful for.

Psalm 32:6 CSB “Therefore let everyone who is faithful pray to you immediately.
When great floodwaters come,
they will not reach him.
You are my hiding place;
you protect me from trouble.
You surround me with joyful shouts of deliverance. Selah”

When David speaks of the great floodwaters, he is referencing the overwhelming weight of unconfessed sin.  But God is our hiding place, our protection from trouble, and our hedge of deliverance.   When we stand before Him and admit our guilt and accept our consequences, floodwaters of forgiveness are released.  When we confess our sins, we are agreeing with God that our sin was offensive to Him, and that admission makes us right with Him once again.  The relationship is restored.

You may have noticed a word that is inserted after verses 4, 5 & 7 of Psalm 32. The word is selah.

“Some scholars believe that Selah was a musical notation possibly meaning “silence” or “pause;” others, “end,” “a louder strain,” “piano,” etc. Still, others think it is similar to a musical interlude, “a pause in the voices singing, while the instruments perform alone.” Selah is translated as “intermission” in the Septuagint (LXX) which is the earliest Greek translation of the Old Testament. The Septuagint is significant because it was completed in the 2nd Century BCE and was quoted by the Apostle Paul.”[viii]

I believe it’s significant that there are three pauses in this song of David’s.   Psalm 32 is not to be read quickly or skimmed over.  Psalm 32 is the link to reconnect with God when, not if, but when we offend Him.  Selah used in Psalm 32 seems to be a transitional pause, prompting us to stop and reflect, to be quiet and listen, and to be still and mindful.

When praying to God, pause.  Exercise silence so that the Holy Spirit can prompt you to recognize, and sincerely ask for forgiveness.  God loves you way too much to let you “remain comfortable in habitual or unconfessed sin.”[ix]

[i] Bible Studies for Life, Dealing with Temptation by Juan Sanchez and Dr. Jeff Dabbs

[ii] https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/

[iii] Pass it On by Kurt Kaiser

[iv] https://bibleproject.com/articles/sin-iniquity-and-transgression-in-the-bible/#:~:text=in%20your%20browser.-,Defining%20Transgression%3A%20Violating%20Trust,the%20betrayal%20of%20a%20relationship.

[v] https://bibleproject.com/articles/sin-iniquity-and-transgression-in-the-bible/#:~:text=in%20your%20browser.-,Defining%20Transgression%3A%20Violating%20Trust,the%20betrayal%20of%20a%20relationship.

[vi] https://bibleproject.com/articles/sin-iniquity-and-transgression-in-the-bible/#:~:text=in%20your%20browser.-,Defining%20Transgression%3A%20Violating%20Trust,the%20betrayal%20of%20a%20relationship.

[vii] Bible Studies for Life, Dealing with Temptation by Juan Sanchez and Dr. Jeff Dabbs

[viii] https://www.christianity.com/wiki/christian-terms/what-does-selah-mean-in-the-bible.html

[ix] Bible Studies for Life, Dealing with Temptation by Juan Sanchez and Dr. Jeff Dabbs

Published by Diane Simcox

Daily I am humbled at how God shows me that He is active and involved in my life. He is gracious enough to simplify every day things so that I have a better understanding of Who He is to me.

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