The Christians Privacy Tabs: Hidden Sins that will keep us from God
This article has spawned from a memory session I had with a friend recently, and the topic was sinning that we use to deal with when we were younger. Either before Christianity or after, it usually didn't matter because at the ages between 15-21 you're struggling with the same stuff. We were accountability partners, for better or for worse, on the topic of lust. I mentioned how I felt like covering up a sin was more comfortable in the moment, but long term leads to more guilt, more shame, and weakened repentance. The example I gave was how I would have my lust on my privacy tab and my regular stuff on my public tab. It got to the point where there was lust on the privacy tab and a theological article on my public tab. That's called trying to serve two masters, that's called living in sin, that's called struggling, that's called not growing. Now, looking back, it's overtly obvious how immature I was in the struggle, in my faith and in my general journey of life, even if I didn't think so.
What is the privacy tab?
The privacy tab could be anything. It could be a literal privacy tab where you store images, videos, or whatever else that you know you shouldn't look at. It could be a metaphorical privacy tab that contains all your hidden sins. In our day in age, having a privacy tab is almost a right. Everything seems to be out in the open on Social Media, but is it? No, we post what we want people to see. We post our best, not our worst. We post our perfectly aligned coffee, not our tormented moments in the dark rooms of our house or our hidden sins. We post the perfect selfie, with the ideal filter, with the ideal caption and we have to do this or we may end up deleting the post if it doesn't get enough likes.
We end up deleting a post because it doesn't get enough likes. Think about that for a moment because this is bigger than our hidden privacy tab that contains our sins, we think no one sees. Maybe too big for this article. We volunteer to live this way; we are consumed by being consumed. So what do we do with our actual realities? Where do we store them? We store them in with the rest of our junk that we want to keep hidden from everyone, including God, we shove it into the privacy tab and click on dark mode. The privacy tab is the never-ending collection of what we don't want others to know and what we don't want God to know and what we want to access when we want.
What is the issue?
Sin gets us one way or another because we live in a fallen world and are fallen creatures. There are, however, some biblically unchanging truths we need to digest if we're going to confront our privacy tab. I believe that these truths will aid us in the ability to mortify sin, as John Owen liked to say. You've heard it said: "Be killing sin, or it will kill you!"
Well, what happens when you can conveniently stash that sin away for another time. In our day in age as insane as this sounds, because everyone's information is on the internet, it's easy to fool other people. I think that is because we are so good at creating a social media window for people to look through that when our sin comes to the surface, everyone is shocked by it.
I think back to this girl I once dated, and this story isn't to shame her, it was simply a learning experience. She looked like the ideal girl I had ever met. She was artsy, had her tattoos; she was a single mom who had it all together, loved the LORD, and was taking care of life (all of these irrelevant things, truly) which lead me to like her. We dated, kind of, if you can call it that. I think I dated her while she slept with other people. I was mortified at what I would see on her snapchat compared to her Instagram. She was out drinking; she was out hanging with guys until 4 am and never once portrayed the calm artsy person I saw on her Instagram. This is the age we live in; Though this was quite some time ago, the period in which we live hasn't changed much.
Everyone has there Instagram life which shows themselves focused on covering their Bibles with coffee stains and highlighters but kill the app, and you've got your snapchat life that appears.
So who is the real you?
This question is something I have asked myself so many times in my life, and there is only one answer at the end of the day. Both. I say this because as Christians, we are progressively moving away from sin into sanctification or the image of Christ. However, we need to examine the scripture so that we can rightly investigate ourselves.
What does scripture say?
Job cried out to the LORD in anguish: "How many are my sins? Make known to me my rebellion and my sin" (Job 13:23). Many of us don't want to pray that because we may not like what God sends back or we already know and we don't want to give up our vice.
In Galatians and 1 Corinthians, we read that we "must examine ourselves" so that we are rightly aligned with God. However, aligning ourselves with the Savior is not as easy as we would like it many times.
I know from experience that sin can come like a strong wind that makes you lose your balance. You quickly sin, you give in to your temptation, you relent of being pressed into Christ, and you forget your way. I'm, of course talking about sins that are addictive and hard-fought struggles. I am not talking about a mishap, and I am not talking about taking someone's parking spot. I'm talking about porn, lying, sex outside of marriage and things of this nature. Things we think we beat, but they come out of nowhere and attack us from behind, like a strong gust or even how the Bible tries to explain it: "a wolf waiting to devour." The reality is that God knows everything about our sin and our lives. The Bible says, "Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account" (Hebrews 4:13). There isn't any privacy tab with God, and there are only open tabs that He sees regardless if anyone else does. Scripture tells us "God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7). No sin—not even a whispered damn of someone, or a little evil thought—is hidden from the view of God. If we realized that God himself is the only audience for such secret sins, we might be less inclined to write them off so lightly. The Bible states that God will one day judge the secrets of every heart (Romans 2:16). He "will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil" (Ecclesiastes 12:14).
Here is the scary part that should shake you. Think about the thoughts you have. No, I am so dead serious right now, think about those thoughts - you know which ones. He knows them. Now imagine all those thoughts, all those moments in lust, all those lies, all those things you do in secret are all of sudden postered on the New York City street screens for everyone to see. If that doesn't burden you even a little bit, you should check on your heart. More on the burden part soon. "The Lord [will] bring to light the things hidden in the darkness" (1 Corinthians 4:5) and this truth is something we SHOULD live with in light of our faith. We shouldn't assume things are secret for many reasons. It is stupidity to think we can decrease our sin by keeping it secret. It is double stupidity to tell ourselves that we are better than others because we sin in private rather than in public. And it is the very height of absurdity to convince ourselves that we can get away with sin by covering it up. "He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper" (Proverbs 28:13).
Here is a tough truth to swallow: your privacy tab is the real litmus test of your character: "As he thinks within himself, so he is" (Proverbs 23:7). It is these truths that should shake us to our core; it is these truths that should turn our hearts to God, help us hate and mortify our sin.
"Tremble, and do not sin; Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still" Psalm 4:4). We have to confess our sins, one tab at a time, we cannot let sin fill up our hearts or our lives any longer. A sin that goes unconfessed is only getting stronger, and gaining a tighter grip on your heart. Remember, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). That is to say, never think you're too strong of Christian to fall into a sin you use to struggle with: "For after I turned back, I repented; And after I was instructed, I smote on my thigh; I was ashamed and also humiliated Because I bore the reproach of my youth" (Jeremiah 31:19).
When is the last time you confessed a sin to someone as seen in James 5:16? In our confession, we are made new, and in our lifestyle of repentance, we are created afresh: "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord" (Acts 3:19) In Hebrews we read that habitual sin is a sign of unbeliever, it is a sign of someone who refuses to see the darkness in need of light. It is an unconfessional, unrepentant believer who wants the glory without the heart change.
"Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God." 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
Close your privacy tabs and serve the One master who can set you free and take your place for the penalty of your sins. Confess to your community your sins and watch God work. Live a lifestyle of turning away from this world and toward the Father. Live in the light, and you won't feel the darkness.
There is probably another 2,000 words I can add here. However, 1800+ is enough. Please consider meeting with your pastor if you're struggling with a sin, I know firsthand how tormenting a sin can be that won't go away and that you cannot beat. Remember that Christ always gives us a way out of temptations.