My kids love our sofa. It is large enough to accommodate all four of them at once. It even has a section which flips up and out to make an enormous sofa bed. It’s perfect for family movie nights. Come into our lounge on any given day, and you are highly likely to find one or more of my kids, feet up, wrapped in a throw blanket, watching TV or playing on a video game. Sounds cosy doesn’t it? Well brace yourself – I’m about to make an embarrassing confession!
A few weeks ago, I decided to give my lounge a deep and thorough spring clean. This involved rolling up the rug, and pulling the sofa away from it’s normal resting place to clean the laminate flooring beneath. Well! What a disgusting sight met my eyes when I did! There was dust and fluff. Pencils and pens. Wooden building bricks and lost puzzle pieces. Sweet wrappers and crisp packets. You name it, it was under my sofa! My eyes took in item after item, before coming to rest upon a grim-looking sticky patch which can only have been created by a spilt drink which had seeped beneath the sofa unbeknownst. Yuk!
A shiver went down my spine as I sifted through the slurry, picking out the bits that were worth keeping, and then disinfecting and mopping away the mess! Our lounge had looked clean on the surface, but it wasn’t until I exposed the hidden areas in the room that I realised the filth that we had been sitting in!
What a picture this is of sin! The bits of our life that are visible, the parts of our conduct that everyone can see, are on the surface relatively clean. We don’t drink or do drugs. We are faithful to our spouse. We are upholders of the law. We go to church and read our bibles. We pay our taxes. We don’t lie or cheat or steal. And so before long, we can begin to kid ourselves that we are doing pretty well, thank you.
Then suddenly God ‘moves away the sofa’ and shines the light on some hidden motive, or sinful attitude that is lurking away in a dark corner of our heart. Pride, anger, ungratefulness, unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment, envy. Ouch! It can be so painful to see what really lies beneath, can’t it?
1 John 1 v 8-9 say this: “If we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Have you ever been shocked and horrified by the sin that you are capable of? I know I have. On numerous occasions I have felt the humbling hand of God upon me, showing me how prone I am to miss the mark. But the good news is – God is never shocked. He never throws His hands up in horror saying “Tut, tut. Well, if I’d have known what you were really like, I would never have chosen you!” When we begin to see some hidden sin being unearthed in us, our first instinct can be to try and conceal, or cover up our faults. We would rather keep things hidden in the dark, than allow God’s light to expose them. We don’t want to confess our weaknesses. We don’t want to face up to our failures. It’s too messy. Too painful. But ultimately, when we conceal our sin, we are only deceiving ourselves, and in the end this makes matters worse.
When my daughter Grace was a little girl, she had an endearing but rather infuriating habit. If ever she had an injury, a cut on her finger, a graze on her knee, she would instantly cover it up with her hand. For some reason, her first instinct would be to conceal the wound. It was as though she didn’t want me or my husband to see how bad it really was. She didn’t want to go through the potential discomfort of having it cleaned up. And so we would go through this incredibly long and frustrating ordeal of having to try and prise away her hand, trying to coax her into showing us the damage. We would say things like “Be brave, I am not going to hurt you. Please Grace, just show me! Mummy can’t help you if you don’t show me!” And eventually with tears running down her face, she would trust us enough to nervously uncover the wound and let us deal with it.
Proverbs 28:18 says “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion”.
Concealing our transgressions ultimately does more harm than good. Listen to this description from David in Psalm 32: “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long! For day and night your hand was heavy upon me. My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.
And then comes the relief in the next verse:
“I acknowledged my sin to you and my iniquity I did not hide, I said I will confess my transgressions to the Lord – And you forgave the guilt of my sin”.
Praise God that when he ‘moves the sofa away’ in our hearts, when He reveals to us that we are weak and frail and prone to blow it time after time after time, He does it as a loving father who wants to clean up our mess, remove the stain of our guilt and bandage up the gaping wounds of our sin-stained souls. When we allow God to shine His light on us, to expose the hidden attitudes, motives and selfish desires within us, praise God that He treats us with kindness and compassion – not a wagging finger and a shaking head. He is there, ready and waiting to sift through our slurry, to remove the dirt and the filth and to lovingly clean away our guilt and shame.
Psalm 103 v 12 assures us that when we confess our sins and our faults to God, He will do more than just brush them under the rug:
“As far as the east us from the west, so far have you removed our transgressions from us!”.
When Jesus bore our sins on the cross – he did a complete and thorough job. He paid the price for each and every one of our sins, so that when we confess our faults to God, we can know the freedom of forgiveness and the blessings of His grace.
So if God is shining His light on some hidden area of your heart today, take courage. Trust Him. He is a good and loving Father. Confess your faults and don’t conceal them. God has just the right tools for the job. He will clean you up, remove the stain of your sin, bandage up your wounds and shower you with His love and compassion. And you will know the freedom and blessing of forgiveness. What a joy it is to sit and relax in a room that has been completely and thoroughly cleaned!