January 08, 2020
Well-loved broadcasters David & Karen Mains launch their 19th podcast with a conversation about how secret sins need to be named and confessed.
David: Secret sins. That’s the category to which I was referring. Karen, who are biblical characters you think of when I say secret sins?
Karen: Well, sort of the big guy is King David. I mean, he was an extraordinary biblical character, a poet, and a leader, a musician, a warrior, a leader of men. You know, an extraordinary story. I don’t know why there hadn’t been more movies made over the life of David.
David: Karen, I’m not sure my observations are accurate, but a topic that’s not preached about all that much is sin.
David: Can you recall hearing a sermon about sin recently?
Karen: Well, I grew up in a church where they pretty much covered sin every Sunday morning.
David: Maybe just this.
Karen: This is sort of an adjustment to positive theology.
David: Maybe people don’t sin as much as they used to, and it’s not as relevant.
Karen: I don’t think that’s the problem.
David: Well, this time together, I would like to talk about a specific category of sins, and not to make people feel uncomfortable, but rather to be of help if this sin is one with which they struggle. Sound okay?
Karen: Sounds good.
Intro: Welcome to the Before We Go Podcast featuring Dr. David Mains and his wife, noted author Karen Mains. Here’s David and Karen Mains.
David: Secret sins. That’s the category to which I was referring. Karen, who are biblical characters you think of when I say secret sins?
Karen: Well, sort of the big guy is King David. I mean, he was an extraordinary biblical character, a poet, and a leader, a musician, a warrior, a leader of men. You know, an extraordinary story. I don’t know why there hadn’t been more movies made over the life of David. But he lusted in his heart after someone else’s wife and took her to bed with him, and that caused him all kinds of problems because then he had to get rid of the husband who had come and not had conjugal rights. From war, not had conjugal rights with his wife, but she became pregnant. And so, David then had that…
David: Had to cover that.
Karen: That covered. And the husband was killed in battle because David commanded that the troops would withdraw from him in battle and leave him alone. So, well, quite a lot of secret sins going on there.
David: Three profoundly affected his life and eventually the Prophet Nathan had to come and see. You’re the guilty party.
Karen: Yeah, you’re the guilty party.
David: Totally different type of thing, but I think back in the book of Genesis, Karen, the story of Joseph, a wonderful biblical character, but as a young brother, he was sold by his other brothers as a slave into Egypt. Actually, the brothers had wanted to kill him.
Karen: They were planning to murder him. Weren’t they were the sons of one wife?
David: Several wives, yeah.
Karen: Several wives, and this one. This was the youngest son of their…
David: Favorite wife.
Karen: Of the father’s favorite wife, but he was also in his old age when this young boy, this young child was born. So, you can see how the jealousy lines up there.
David: But those brothers carried that secret sin in their lives for years.
Karen: So, they sold him to traveling passerby slave traders. Yeah, can you imagine what that did to the group dynamic? Wow.
David: I have one other observation as we get into this topic, but this is in the book of Acts. It’s a totally different, just tragic response that happened. This is Ananias and Sapphira.
Karen: The married couple.
David: Married couple. It was the early church and they…
Karen: Filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and new conversions and extraordinary stories come out of the… Well, the Acts of the Apostles, actually, the stories.
David: These people sold a property and came and gave money from that property to the church, which was kind of common in that time, and said they gave everything. In fact, we’re asked about this. First of all, it was the husband. He said, “Yep, we gave the whole thing.”
Karen: Was it Ananias?
David: That’s his name.
Karen: Ananias and Sapphira. I mean, you need to make a little gender distinction.
David: Ananias no sooner got the words out of his mouth than the legs struck him dead. Then his wife, I think the scripture says, while they were taking him out, pulling him by the feet probably, his wife came in and they asked her the same question and she lied in the very same way. Bam, she was dead.
David: Yeah. So, a secret sin, that had a ramification.
Karen: So we’re asking our listeners to kind of go along with us here, any secret sins that they are hiding in their lives.
David: We’ve been examining ourselves as we put these thoughts together. Non-biblical names that come to mind related to secret sins.
Karen: Oh, they’re huge, aren’t they? I mean, our history seems to be filled with secret sins that get acted on. People who fraud, commit fraud. You got a specific name?
David: Well, one of our hobbies is Shakespeare and I’m thinking of the Macbeths.
Karen: Yeah, the great classic drama where Macbeth
David: murders the king, Duncan.
Karen: Because the witches prophesy that he will be.
David: He’d be great.
Karen: And then he sort of grabs it. And to think about that, three witches, and they’re never portrayed on stage as beautiful, lovely women. They always look haggard and witch-like.
David: But they somehow capture his imagination of what he could be. I think of that scene where Lady Macbeth is walking in her sleep and her conscience is terribly troubled and she says, “Will these hands never be clean”?
Karen: She’s trying to wash the blood off of them in her sleep. I mean, it’s an extraordinary.
David: We’ve seen that play a number of times. You can see the actress wringing her hands.
Karen: I think it’s an extraordinary. And you wonder how many people in the audience kind of relate to her because of things in their past or their present that are those secret sins. And they feel like they’re never going to be cleaned from it.
David: I think in terms of our own country I think of Richard Nixon.
Karen: Well, that name was of course because of the recent impeachment dialogue that’s gone on unendingly for months. Going back into the other impeachments of course he was the president who resigned before he could be impeached. The handwriting was on the wall for that.
David: Do you think secret sins are a problem still or is that just kind of policy?
Karen: I think in our morally collapsing generation where we were raised where a person’s word or a man’s word was his bond. If you said yes, you meant yes, if you said no, you meant no. And so that kind of morality, that kind of truthfulness, the respect for truthfulness is just not a part of our age. It’s kind of who can get by with the most. So, I would say yeah there are lots of people who have lots of secret sins and we’re seeing it come out. We can’t, you know the impeachment hearings were interesting or have been interesting because it seemed to just circle down from the leaders in that top echelon of leadership to a whole circle of people who got pulled into stuff that perhaps they would not have chosen to be a part of. It was just a really interesting study.
David: Let’s not just talk about other people, let’s get very personal. You identify it all with the term secret sins.
Karen: Yeah, I really understand the concept. I think more in the past, partly because of the spiritual disciplines I have been, people have graciously introduced me to going to scripture and trying to be obedient and then understand why obedience works in those cases, as far as what to do with our sins, the whole process of self-examination. I don’t know how much that is integrated into our everyday lives but certainly very important and certainly a topic that the church needs to be helping people develop self-examination, self-awareness.
David: Not to make people feel guilty but to be helpful to them and
Karen: to free them. From the power of secrets in their lives.
David: Yeah, in fact these are the words of the psalmist you referred to before. “When I kept silence, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night, your hand was heavy upon me. My strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said I will confess my transgressions to the Lord, and you forgave the guilt of my sin.”
Karen: Wow. Yeah.
David: So that’s what we want for people to be able to do.
Karen: And again, that psalmist was King David who we talked about as a classic secret sinner at the beginning of this podcast.
David: Well probably to some degree all of us are classic secret sinners. Although I believe over a period of time people like David can confess their sins and find freedom of that. Sometimes there’s the ramifications that will continue on for a long period of time and that’s unfortunate. But at the same time there is a freedom that comes from the awareness that God has forgiven you those secret sins. If I reduce what we’re just wanting to communicate as a freeing process it would be this simple sentence. Secret sins need to be named and confessed. So if we name our secret sin and I think probably that’s the easier part for people and if people say well there are a whole lot of them.
Karen: I’m not sure it’s easy for the novice. I think that what we do is rationalize our secrets. “I was mistreated and so I got back in a vengeful way and did something that I’m ashamed of now.” Or “I was raised in an abusive family and so I still had pain from that, and I modulate my pain by drinking too much. Okay probably a little alcohol.” So, it’s that kind of thing rather than excusing it. Excusing it or explaining it away rather than facing it right on such as David did in that Psalm.
David: He didn’t have much choice.
Karen: Well, indeed he was cornered as we have said before but that’s often the way the Lord works is He corners us until we really recognize our own errors and take responsibility for them and then begin to say “I’m not going to do this anymore and I want to change. God help me change my life.” So there has to be this transformative thinking process that needs to go on.
David: In that short sentence I gave I’m going to emphasize the last word because that’s where people really find help.
Karen: Repeat it again.
David: Secret sins need to be named and confessed.
David: And all that makes sense except that I’m not sure most people know how to confess their sins to the degree that they feel like they’ve been released from this. They’ve been forgiven.
Karen: Well, I think when there is self-awareness the procedure seems to be looking at my own life. You confess it to yourself. You say “Oh wow I really blew it. I cheated that grocer when they over gave me too much money back. Two dollars more than they should have and I didn’t take it back but I have a tendency to get away trying to get away with this sort of stuff.” So we say it to ourselves and then we say “Okay you can’t do that anymore and that’s a lack of character. God will not be pleased with that.” But I think what we’re being taught to do is to first of all, confess it to God, but probably have an open confession. The rule is this, as long as things are secret, they have power over us. Anything you hide from others that is wrong or ill doing or what would become categorized as sin, if we hide it and keep it secret, it has power over us. When we take it and bring it into the light, when we name it for what it is, it freezes from the tentacles. It’s like someone has dug their fingernails into your soul. It releases us from the tendency of that thing to have power over us. So, Scripture gives methodologies whereby we can overcome these hidden sins in our lives, their past power on us or their present power on us. That is confession. Generally, for most of us, it’s going to have to be open confession.
David: When you say open, it doesn’t mean you’re standing in front of the…
Karen: No, it might.
David: It could.
Karen: It could.
David: But for the most part, I think people we’re talking to, that probably means going to someone who is trusted. And saying, “I can’t seem to find release from this just between myself and the Lord. So, I’m asking you to hear me, and I would like for you to pronounce that I have been forgiven because of God’s word.” And that’s usually going to be a minister, Karen, or a priest.
Karen: Well, it can come in a lot of ways. It depends what’s going on in a person’s life. I mean, a lot of what happens in the psychologist’s office is coming to terms with those things that have gone wrong in our past and then coming to terms with our own error. But that openness is great, but sometimes there isn’t the reminder from those people because they work in a secular field, and some are not faith-based people.
David: And sometimes they’re wonderful people. And sometimes they’re wonderful in terms of their profession.
Karen: But they often have to pronounce the fact that you are forgiven. You need to hear that from another person’s voice very often.
David: That’s the role of the minister many times.
Karen: Let me go back to where this can happen. You can have a small group of people that you have met with monthly for three or four years. And so, there’s a trust level and a safety level that has begun to build among those people. A mixed group, mixed gender group, or it can be a group of men, a group of women. So, at that point, if you will say to them, “I have been being convicted of something that I have held in my heart for too long, would you enter into prayer with me? And so can I tell you what it is and will you hear my confession”? That’s a holy moment. And then those people will respond.
David: This is in James, in the New Testament says, “Confess your sins to one another”, which is exactly what you’re talking about.
Karen: That’s what I’m talking about. And that’s often what happens when one person leads with that kind of vulnerability then others lean forward and watch it in the group. There’s a body language, lean forward. Eyes are intently focused on that person who is confessing. And then often people will say, “Well, as long as we’re at it, there’s something I wish you would pray for me.” You know, it’s kind of how a confession that grows. It has impact on the group. Or it can be between spouses. You know, there are times I say to you, “I was really cranky today.” I say sorry too often recently, unfortunately. “I’m sorry that I got cranky and was overtired.” And you accept that confession from me. And that’s a hugely healing thing. However, the church provides a format and a formula for this. So, you want to name some of those things?
David: Well, churches have communion services. Sometimes they go by quickly and there’s not the seriousness that there should be. And other times, confession is made very significant in that service, especially if the sermon has been on that topic. And if you preach on that topic, you are almost certain that you are dealing with people on a very intimate level. So, the confession time, say at a communion when you go to the rail and you lean and you say, “Lord, I don’t want to partake of the elements without you first hearing me say that I have been unfaithful in this given area, you do it with my words or my actions.” In fact, those things are already said in the formal confession of the church in many churches.
Karen: In liturgical churches.
David: Sinned against you in thought, word, and deep, I hope you’ve done what we’ve left undone. And as you say it with a congregation, you’re saying it yourself along with the awareness that God knows exactly what is going on. And you can ask, you can say, “Father, I have sinned” or “Pastor, I have sinned.” And that person can pray over you, not even naming it, it may not be, that’s the time to name that sin.
Karen: But it is a good thing to name it. It’s again, releasing the power to hold a secret sin will have when it’s unnamed.
David: It’s also possible, Karen, apart from the formal services of the church to actually set up an appointment with the minister.
Karen: And some liturgical churches can encourage that sort of thing to happen.
Karen: First time we were going to an Episcopal church for the first time we were in broadcasting and had a large listening audience. It was estimated about two million people a day. That was called the Chapel of the Air Daily Broadcast. But we realized that maybe a quarter of our audience was from liturgical churches, and we knew nothing about it. So, we joined a small group and started to attend a liturgical church. And that confession was part of their process, something they offered. So, I remember the first time I dragged myself in to talk with our pastor, their married priest in the Episcopal church about an error in my life. And as he was trained to do and has done probably hundreds of times, he listened to me confess to him where I was an error. Now, I was traveling all over the country speaking. I’d run, written all kinds of books that was well known in the religious, certain religious circles. For me to humble myself and do that was, had true what’s called efficacy in my life. The very act of doing that was extraordinary, powerful. But even more powerful, apart from even his gentle presence being there as I made that confession, were the words he spoke to me of the fact that God had heard my prayer and that he had forgiven me my sins. And you basically, you know, told to go and said no more. So, I learned, even though that was not a part of my traditional church background, we were Baptist, I was Baptist growing up and that wasn’t a part of their tradition. I learned the power of confession in those moments, in open confession. And it was an extraordinary experience for me.
David: Let’s say someone is listening to us and says, “You just haven’t scratched my itch quite yet. You got a couple more words you can give. I’m not going to go to a high church. I’m not going to go to a liturgical church. I’m a part of the Assembly of God, Methodists”, you know, or what I can name anything.
Karen: I would just find a worthy spiritual leader and just say, “I have this thing that’s been haunting me, and I need to tell it to someone and I need, as scripture is moving me to do, to confess that and will you listen to me, do that and pray for me.” And there isn’t anyone I know who has spiritual depth who wouldn’t be avail, avail themselves to do that. Even sometimes just good friends David
David: And even some that’s very fair and I’m very much a churchman even going to the church no one’s there…
Karen: no one’s there.
David: you just go up and you kneel at the rail and.
Karen: If there is a railing front-roll it.
David: whatever just..
Karen: don’t really…
David: and if someone comes in you take it as that as providence and you say “I’m here because I’ve sinned and I’m just asking for forgiveness.” And if the person says, “Can I help you”? Say “Yeah just put your arm around me and just stand…”
Karen: on my back yeah..
David: “yeah and I’m not I may pray out loud I may not pray out loud but just be here with me.” It’s taking those steps and you will know you will know whether you are released because God has heard you and either the person will speak it to you if you have that need or God will speak to you and say “You are forgiven. I love you. Now go and sin no more.” and what that great word from Jesus to the woman taking an adultery.
Karen: that’s such an extraordinary story in many of our listeners may not be biblically literate so there’s and this are highly sensitized feminized conversation that we’re having in these modern days. A group of men… hypocrites probably…
David: probably some of them religious men.
Karen: Yeah, had brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery in the Old Testament law
David: You’d stone her.
Karen: You’d stoner and anyone who has watched on video this modern stoning of people will know how horrific an act that was. So, they brought her to this young rising Jewish star Rabbi…
Karen: Jesus. and told…
David: Well, they ask him, “This is what the law said. Should we stone her”?
Karen: Yeah, putting him on the spot.
David: And Jesus… The story is so beautiful. He doesn’t respond to them right away but he just starts to write with his finger in the ground probably dusty. And my guess is that he writes the name of someone in the group plus that person’s sin secret sin then another and it says one by one they began to leave because they’re dealing with someone who knows them intimately now. And finally, they’re all gone and then what does he say to the woman
Karen: Well, this is a direction is drama at its highest I mean if you want to know the nature of Jesus Christ, nothing could be more compelling than the story so central to who he was. He looks at her and say, “Does no one condemn you”?
David: And what does he say?
Karen: He says “Neither do I condemn you. Now go and sin no more.” It’s just an extraordinary, extraordinary story.
David: I have found in my own life that’s how Jesus is. He basically is very gentle and gracious. “I understand. I’m not condemning you anymore. You’re forgiven. Now go and sin no more.”
Karen: Right so what we want people to hear as they’re wrestling with a secret sin is the fact that when they go to God and some of this is going in tears and agony and saying “I have sinned against you, and I have sinned against my fellow humans and this is the name of my sin. Will you please forgive me”? Then what they need to do is listen in their inner selves and hear those words that Jesus spoke to that woman “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”
Outgo: You’ve been listening to the Before We Go Podcast. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast please remember to rate, review, and share on whatever platform you listen. This podcast is copyright 2020 by Mainstay Ministries, Post Office Box 30, Wheaton, Illinois 60189.
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