For when I was silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. ~Psalm 32:3 (ESV)
In Psalm 32, David remembers how he did not deal with his sin as he should have. He didn’t confess it to God and seek reconciliation. He was silent about it. Eventually, the Lord’s strong conviction worked on him until he could hold it in no longer. Only then, when he willingly placed his sin into the light and acknowledged his wrongdoing, was he forgiven and free.
David eventually confessed his sin, but not initially. We often do the same, trying to deal with our sins on our own. For David and for us, that will never go well. Here are some ways that we sinfully deal with our sins:
Ignore it: Sometimes we simply fail to acknowledge wrongdoing at all, not because we aren’t aware of it, but because we don’t want to deal with it. We tend to do this when there are no immediate, evident consequences. It is like running a red light and looking in your rearview mirror and seeing that you didn’t cause an accident and there are no sirens coming for you. So you continue on down the road as though nothing happened at all.
Conceal it: Adam and Eve hid from God and sewed fig leaves to cover their guilt. We delete text messages, email, and search history. This may cover our tracks, but not our guilt – our hearts are still sinful, still suffering from sin’s consequences, even if we successfully hide from others.
Explain it: Well, I had a reason! I didn’t get much sleep. I’m just hungry. He’s being a jerk! I’m late! I didn’t have enough money. We do this when want to find a reason to justify our sin, and so excuse ourselves from wrongdoing.
Deny it: Sometimes, when confronted with our sins, we flat out lie and deny any wrongdoing whatsoever. Nope. I didn’t do it! I don’t know what you’re talking about! Wasn’t me!
Shift blame: Sometimes we try to make ourselves the victim. I sinned in self-defense! We also learned this blame game from our first parents. Adam was audacious enough to blame God for giving him the woman who gave him the forbidden fruit (Gen 3:12)! Refusing to acknowledge your own role and choice in your sin will never lead to true repentance.
Reword it: We figure if we can only use softer wording for our behaviors we won’t feel so guilty. It can be as simple as using weak language to describe our decision to sin, such as: I slipped up. I made an error in judgment. I made a mistake. It could also be deliberately wording our activity so it doesn’t sound as bad as it is, i.e. terminating a pregnancy sounds a lot softer than murdering an unborn child.
Celebrate it: Sadly, sometimes to get rid of our guilt and shame and feel a small sense of joy instead, we attempt to convert our sin into something to celebrate. Some people have divorce parties. Others walk in pride parades. Others enjoy watching others sin on TV as a form of entertainment.
There are many more sinful ways we try to deal with sin than this short list. None provide the peace, forgiveness, and freedom we seek. Rather, they compound our guilt. We can never bear the weight of our sins. Jesus can and did on the cross! Confession is the grace of God at work in us, giving us relief from a heavy, weary burden. Fig leaves make poor sin-coverings. But the blood of Christ covers all our sin (1 John 1:9).
Don’t try to deal with your sin on your own. Give it to Jesus.