“Whatever our sins, let us come out of the closet, agree with God and his law about our hellish thoughts and actions, and relish the fact that we are troubled by our offense towards His Holiness. Then, let us be immediately warmed by God’s unconditional grace.”
There are times when it is profitable to hide. Joseph ran from the adulterous wife of Potiphar. Elijah ran from the Ahab and Jezebel who sought his head. Paul taught his readers to flee from the devil and his temptations, and David taught his students to hide God’s Word in their hearts. Even Jesus told parables for the purpose of revealing truth to some while hiding it from others.
Then there are times when it is horrible to hide. We do wrong and harm ourselves when we hide ourselves from the scriptures, from the God of grace, and from our brothers and sisters. Yes, we are harmed when we do so, but oh how blessed we are when we open God’s Word and see our sin, then in humble repentance we run towards Jesus and towards his people.
And here is some really good news, even though we hide, God is the one who calls, seeks, finds, encourages, and commands men and women to repent.
Consider his gracious pursuance of the wicked first couple:
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:6-9)
Then consider his pursuance of their sinful, religious, false-worshiping son. God pursued Cain following his wicked offering:
In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:3-7)
God pursued Cain even after the killing of his brother:
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. (Genesis 4:9-10)
This is what God does. He is the one calling out to men through nature, their consciences, and his scriptures. He is the God who pursues the rebel. Jesus showed this as he sought out the Samaritan woman, sought to expose her sin and offered her living water and eternal life. He then spoke forth his Father’s passion:
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. (John 4:23)
Friends, the Father is seeking redeemed worshipers. Therefore, let us be like Adam and Eve. Let us be intoxicated by grace and then learn to pass the truths of God on to our children and world.
Let us be like David when outed by Nathan. His sin had been hidden long enough. It was time for him to come clean, glorify, and enjoy his Lord afresh.
Whatever our sins, let us come out of the closet, agree with God and his law about our hellish thoughts and actions, and relish the fact that we are troubled by our offense towards His Holiness. Then, let us be immediately warmed by God’s unconditional grace. Following this, let us be helped by our gracious and compassionate sinful friends who have an identical testimony.
Oh sinful saint, do not keep the scriptures closed and hide yourself from truth. Do not lessen God’s Law and expectations and hide the truth from your self-righteous soul.
Do not follow up your sin by adding another and hiding from your Savior. He would not have you keep your distance. He would not have you go through timeout. There is no purgatorial sense to his love. He wants you to run as fast as you can to his throne. Yes, honestly embrace your transgressions and use them as sad tools that drive you to your heavenly Lover. You do not deserve to be there. You know that. He knows that. But he commands you to come. Do not hide any longer. And what will happen when you approach the throne of grace? By God, you will not be held at arms length. And by God’s humble and gracious people, you will not be stiff-armed and put in the corner. No, God and his right-thinking worshipers will welcome you with arms wide open. Do not hide yourself from truth. Do not hide yourself from God. Do not hide yourself from his household of priests. Instead, confess, repent, and give glory to the Seeker who pursues repentant worshipers.
And listen well to this admonition, please do not any longer respond as did Cain. God came to him, and the religious false-worshiper repented not. God came to him again and the murderer only responded with self-focused regret over the consequences of his sin; he had not God-honoring repentance. Your Bible and your church are full of glorious testimonies of rancid prodigals who have come home, been dressed, been adorned, been honored, and been fed by the Father and his household. There are also innumerable tragedies of people like Cain, the Elder Brother, and Judas who have no interest in responding rightly to God who extends his invitation of grace to all men.
Come to the scriptures and see your sin.
Come to the Savior who has already come your way.
Come back to the church of humble, repentant sinners waiting to extend grace and help to you.
Sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, hide no longer!
Joseph A. Franks IV is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and is Pastor of Palmetto Hills Presbyterian Church in Simpsonville, South Carolina. This article first appeared on his blog, and is used with permission.