This may be one of the most important posts for young men to take notice of, because through it there can be an unprecedented amount of victory in your Christian walk.
Likely like many of you, I was forced to read a book for a literature class called The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Wait! Don’t stop reading! I can already sense the yawns of boredom, worried about the direction a post is going to go that starts out with a boring, dusty old book. But keep reading because it contains a very important point.
In the book, there are two characters who sinned together. One is a lady who was married but because she ends up having a child because of her adultery, they pin a red capital letter ‘A’ on her so that everyone knows she is an adulteress. Nobody knows who the man was. As you read, you discover that the man is the local preacher in the community.
The character that impacted me the most was the preacher who had committed the sin with Hester Prynne. The adulteress had the scarlet ‘A’ emblazoned on her clothes for all the world to see so that the whole community could shun her. The weak, “righteous” preacher on the other hand had hidden his sin and was upheld highly by the entire community as a man of God whose words from the pulpit each week were beautiful and true, impacting them more deeply than any they’d ever heard before. He was the last person they would suspect of such a heinous sin. As you read, you see the result that hiding his sins had on the man. He becomes weaker and weaker, wracked by guilt, but still living his pious, righteous life on the outside. He is tormented by the demons of shame and regret and the reality of his hypocrisy; it takes a toll on his body, physically he becomes paler and weaker all the time. It’s not as though he’s still living in the sin—he just hid the sin from the people. The book presents him as a trapped man with no escape. As I read, I felt the crushing weight on him, and kept searching in my mind for a way he could get out of this situation. The only solution that came up time and time again was that he had to confess. He was living a lie by hiding his sin and had to confess it, accepting any consequences that came as a result, and move on. Surely whatever would happen would be better than the wretched existence he was living now. The whole character clearly portrays the effect of covering your sin. And I remember when I read it, it stirred in me a deep commitment to be open and broken and transparent.
The Bible says “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)
The fact is that it is not easy to confess our sins. It’s embarrassing…it’s awkward! It’s even hard to confess to God sometimes because it means we’re admitting we’re wrong. We want to downplay what we’ve done or pretend that it doesn’t really matter or justify it. But if you feel guilty about something, that’s a sure sign that you should confess it to someone you trust like your parents! (However, it’s important to note that even if you don’t feel guilty, but know it’s wrong before God, you also need to confess it before the Lord and repent. Sometimes people convince themselves that if they’re not convicted, it’s alright, but God has a standard of right and wrong that transcends our feelings.)
This applies specifically to young men because there are a lot of pressures we face at this time of life and there are changes we are going through that can be embarrassing and awkward. When I was at college, a group of Christian guys joined together to form an accountability group and we made a commitment to be completely open with one another, and admit what we were struggling with, and answer any questions that we were asked in the group.
If there’s something you’re struggling with, don’t just try to handle it yourself. As the verse above says, whoever covers his sins will not prosper. We need each other and God has given you your parents and a Christian community in the church to rely on. This truth has greatly impacted me and freed me from so much guilt and bondage and I pray that it will have the same affect on you.
James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.