WAYS IN WHICH SINNERS COVER THEIR SINS”
1. Please turn in your Bible to Proverbs 28.13. When you find that passage please stand for the reading of God’s Word: “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”
2. It’s natural for human beings to attempt to cover their sins. Covering your sins is as natural for you as committing those sins. And no one has to teach you to attempt to cover your sins. It’s a part of your nature.
3. When Adam was called to account by God for eating the forbidden fruit, he attempted to throw off the blame from himself by saying, “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.”
4. Adam, at that point, was attempting to cover his sin by shifting the blame for it immediately to Eve, and ultimately to God, Who gave Eve to him to be his wife. And how insulting it is to deny a sin that has been committed before One Whose eyes run to and fro over the whole earth, beholding the evil and the good.
5. And when the woman was called to an account she said, “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.” Again, an attempt to cover a sin by distracting attention to the serpent’s sin. And who created the serpent and placed the serpent in the garden? God. So, ultimately, an attempt was made by Eve to shift the blame all the way back to God.
6. And where did Adam and Eve learn how to cover their sins? Well, Eve may have learned to cover her sin from the example set for her by Adam, but Adam’s cover-up of sin came naturally. If you commit a sin you are naturally inclined to attempt a cover-up of that sin.
7. And is it not remarkable how effective children sometimes are, rivaling the ingenuity of the serpent, in attempting to cover their sins? I remember a boy here at Calvary Road Baptist Academy who I confronted for some violation I observed. When I confronted him he denied doing it. “But I saw you do it,” I said. “But I didn’t do it,” he insisted. And in the face of an accusation by a witness to the crime he steadfastly denied his guilt. But he was found guilty as charged by the judge, me, and sentenced accordingly.
8. This is just one illustration to show that the first thing sinners will do, if possible, is deny the fact of their sin. But when the fact of the sin cannot be denied, the next thing sinners will do is to excuse and apologize and justify the sin.
9. But this morning I will not deal with the attempt by sinners to deny their sins. Denial is folly. Denial is insulting. Denial is outrageous. Denial is damning. First John 1.10 tells us that “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
10. So, instead of speaking to the issue of outright denials of sins, this morning I will deal with some of the ways in which sinners attempt to cover their sins.
And to keep our attention focused, I’m going to confine my
remarks to some of the ways in which folks who are not saved excuse
yourselves for your neglect of spiritual concerns, for refusing to deal
with issues of eternity and matters of the soul, for ignoring your duties
toward God. First, I will
also expose those excuses for what they really are.
Then we will look at the end of the sinner who covers his sins.
1A. First, EXCUSES THAT SINNERS USE TO COVER THEIR SINS
Some of you insist that you have no time to attend to spiritual things. Others will say that you would become a Christian if you could, but you cannot. Still others will hide your sins by pointing out the actions and deeds, the failures if you will, of other people who say they are Christians. “I won’t become a Christian because there are so many Christians in this world who are hypocrites.” Others here today will say that you are not responsible for being the way you are, so how can you be expected to take the blame for committing sins? Still others will say that it was all so long ago, wanting to let bygones by bygones.
My friends, in these and many other ways, you and other sinners just like you attempt to cover your sins. Do what you may. Make your best effort. But the Bible declares that you shall not prosper. You shall not succeed. You will certainly fail to achieve whatever object you have in view. If your object in excusing your sins, or otherwise seeking to cover your sins, is to appear to be okay for the time being, understand that you will still, in time, fall. And when the time of your fall comes it would have been better for you to have said nothing, to have made no excuse, to have forgone the attempt to cover your sin.
These things said, let’s review five excuses that many of you and others use to cover your sins.
1B. Perhaps you are one who pleads lack of time
1C. You don’t have time to go to Church. You don’t have time to read the Word of God. You don’t have time to pray. You don’t have time to look into spiritual matters and wrestle with these issues of sins and salvation and eternity and damnation.
2C. I talked to a couple one time who had been living together for nine years, ten years separated from his wife. So, for nine years this guy has been committing adultery. And he told me that he was one of them born agains, but that he wasn’t interested in any religion that took up a lot of his time.
3C. Are you one of those who pleads lack of time? Not enough time to rest at night, so you have to rest on Sunday mornings or you have to rest on Sunday evenings? You don’t work at all on Saturdays, but you just can’t seem to get up in time for Sunday School on Sunday morning. There’s just not enough time for beauty sleep and the things of God.
4C. Think about that line of reasoning, or some variation of it, for just a moment. You can’t find time to attend to the concerns of your immortal soul? You can find time to attend to other things infinitely less important, but you don’t have enough time to tend to the concerns of your soul.
5C. May I warn you that you will find the time to die? May I so warn you? Good. The soul that sinneth it shall surely die. It is appointed unto men once to die. You will find the time to die. And when you find the time to die you will then find time to suffer the eternal penalty of God’s wrath for not finding the time during this lifetime to address God’s concerns about your sins.
2B. Do you plead that you would be a Christian if you could, but you cannot?
1C. I know you. You’re the one who paid just enough attention in Church to hear the verse that says, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him,” John 6.44.
2C. But you refuse to consider the other verses. You choose to ignore, for instance, the one about the natural man not receiving the things of the Spirit of God, First Corinthians 2.14. That’s the one that declares you to be unfit for spiritual discernment. Yet you will hang on the one verse, John 6.44, or another like it, presuming that it absolves you of all personal responsibility toward God. And there you sit, in a lethargy of sloth.
3C. As well, you will ignore the Lord Jesus Christ’s commands to search the Scriptures, to strive to enter in at the strait gate, and to seek the Lord while He may be found. You will leave those verses alone because they emphasize your personal responsibility as a sinner, with duties and obligations toward God, while hanging on one verse to justify your sins to yourself.
4C. What an excuse this is! Do you really believe what you say, my sinful friend? Is what you say true? Can you not repent of your sins? Can you not feel sorrow that you have sinned against God, and against Christ?
5C. Then what a heart you must have. If your heart is so hard and stubbornly insistent on doing wrong, what then are your prospects of ever getting saved? Can you go to heaven with a heart like that?
6C. Listen to what Romans 2.5-6 says about someone with a heart like yours. “But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds.”
7C. Again, do you believe that God has such a nature that He will condemn you for not doing what you have no power to do? He has declared that except you repent you must perish. And is it true that you cannot repent? If you can’t repent, then you’re in a horrible situation.
8C. Here you are, claiming that you cannot become a Christian. But if someone else were to tell you that you could never become a Christian it would offend you. If some preacher said that you are going to suffer Hellfire for not doing what you cannot do, you wouldn’t like it. But that’s exactly what you are doing when you say, “I can’t become a Christian.”
3B. Do you excuse yourself for neglecting the Gospel because there are so many hypocrites in the world?
1C. Another wonderful excuse, if I ever heard one. Let’s just suppose that there are religious hypocrites who will someday die and go to Hell. And we know that there certainly are many such hypocrites. I am utterly convinced that Charismatics, Pentecostals and most so-called evangelical Christians, what I call southern California Christians, are just such hypocrites. But is that any reason you should neglect the Gospel and destroy your own soul?
2C. I am as aware of the failings of those who falsely profess to be Christians as you are. And I promise you that, no matter how much gossip you pick up on the phone in your efforts to dig up dirt on hypocrites who pretend to be Christians, I am aware of more of this than you are.
3C. I am quite aware that those who claim to be Christians, but who are not, give great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, and to ridicule, and to denounce. But remember also, that those of you who take those occasions to blaspheme, and to ridicule, and to denounce are the enemies of the Lord.
4C. So, if you stay home from Church or otherwise excuse yourself from Christian ministry, and then speak against the Church and against the Gospel because some false Christian professors disgrace their profession, just remember that by your staying home instead of worshiping God, and speaking against Christianity, you are thereby proclaiming to all the world that you are an enemy of the Lord.
4B. Perhaps you are a sinner who pleads that you did not make your own heart
1C. This excuse is really rich. The sinner with this excuse pretends to acknowledge sinfulness and the wickedness of the wrongdoing, but claims there is no responsibility because “It’s not my fault that I was born sinful.”
2C. Okay. And when your wealthy neighbor goes on a rampage and breaks your arm and nose, and then stands in front of the judge at his arraignment to claim that he should not be held responsible for attacking you since he did not make his own heart, you would stand up there and side with him? With two black eyes and a nose filled with gauze, your arm in a cast and a sling, you would say, “Judge, don’t do anything to Harold, here. You see, he didn’t choose to be a sinner, so we shouldn’t hold him responsible for attacking me.” And you won’t sue him for damages and lost income?
3C. Let me ask you a question: Are you the only one who did not make his own heart? The principle involved in this excuse, if true, frees every sinner in the universe from any responsibility for his actions or his deeds. Is that what you are advocating? Or will you advocate such only when it applies to you? You see, all the fallen angels, the demons, and the Devil can plead that they did not make their own hearts.
4C. Suppose a number of men are in a fishing boat and one of them falls overboard. Struggling to keep from drowning, from the water he cries out, “How did I get here?” “Who cares,” says one of his friends, “let’s get you back into the boat.” “No,” says he, “there is an important question first to be settled; how did I get into this fix?”
5C. “We don’t know,” says his friend, “you could have fallen into the water in any number of ways. You may have jumped overboard. You may have been thrown overboard. Or you may have fallen overboard; you know how uncoordinated you are. Who cares for now? Just take hold of this rope.”
6C. “No,” he insists, “if you won’t tell me how I got into this water, then I’ll just drown.” So ends the illustration of the sinner who focuses all of his attention on the start of his sinfulness and ignores the solution for his sins.
5B. Then, there are those of you to plead that so much time has passed since you committed those sins that, surely, God won’t hold you responsible for them.
1C. Fornication or adultery when you were a young adult? But now you are much older, and you haven’t committed such a sin as that in decades. Surely a loving God won’t hold that against you. Teenaged drunkenness? It happened so long ago.
2C. Your problem is that you think time heals all wounds. You think that the memory of God dims over time, like your memory does. But you ignore the very nature of God when you think like that. You forget “that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day,” Second Peter 3.8.
3C. Further, you seem to be unaware that God writes your sins down in His books so you can be held responsible for each and every one of them come judgment day. Revelation 20.12 reads, “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”
4C. So you see, you are a time-bound creature, but God is both timeless and eternal, having created the space-time-matter continuum that you and I live in. To think that the passage of time will thwart God’s purposes, and will interfere with His revenge upon those who have sinned against Him, is naive.
I can assure you, my friend, that even those sins you committed
long, long ago will be remembered, will be judged, and will be avenged by
the rightoues judge.
2A. NOW LET US CONSIDER THE END OF THE SINNER WHO COVERS HIS SINS
Is it your desire to become a Christian? Please make sure you understand this very clearly: You will fail in your attempts to become a Christian. For you see, no one ever did, or ever will, become a Christian by covering his sins. You can fool the pastor and convince him that you are a Christian, but so long as you cover your sins you will not have convinced God of your desire for forgiveness and cleansing.
1B. One reason why some of you are distressed for such a long period of time, and seem to obtain no relief, is because you’re covering a secret sin. David wrote in Psalm 32, “When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.” David was covering his sin by keeping silent about it, but he obtained no relief.
2B. Is your main desire to quiet your conscience? You may not succeed. You see, sinners often make excuses which their own consciences tell them are not valid. But if you do succeed in quieting your conscience, you will only have succeeded in destroying your soul. “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy,” Proverbs 29.1.
3B. Consider also, that if you who cover your sins will not prosper now, what will you do on the day of judgment? What will you do when God will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil? What will you do beneath the gaze of Him whose eyes are flames of fire, whose penetrating gaze sees into the very depths of your heart to see the marks of concealed sins?
4B. When seen under the light of scripture, we see that when you cover your sins you are only attempting to conceal one crime by committing another. And by this you continually make your condemnation more and more just, storing up wrath for the day of judgment.
5B. But “whoso confesseth and forsaketh them.” Here is a term of pardon. Confession of sin, rightly understood, is as much a term of pardon as is faith and repentance, and has the same promise. consider these verses:
32.5: I acknowledged my
sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid.
I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD;
and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.
First Kings 8.46-49: 46 If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them away captives unto the land of the enemy, far or near;
47 Yet if they shall bethink themselves in the land whither they were carried captives, and repent, and make supplication unto thee in the land of them that carried them captives, saying, We have sinned, and have done perversely, we have committed wickedness;
48 And so return unto thee with all their heart, and with all their soul, in the land of their enemies, which led them away captive, and pray unto thee toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, the city which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name:
Then hear thou their prayer and their supplication in heaven
thy dwelling place, and maintain their cause.
Jeremiah 3.12,13: 12 Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the LORD; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the LORD, and I will not keep anger for ever.
13 Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the LORD.
looketh upon men, and if any
say, I have sinned, and perverted that
which was right, and it profited
He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his
life shall see the light.”
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.
6B. Understand that it is not sufficient for you to confess your sins in words like the Catholics and the evangelicals do. The text says, “Whoso confesseth, and forsaketh them.” Friend, you have to deal with the heart-searching God. And if you do not break off from your sins to come to Christ, you cannot be saved. As John the Baptist taught, you must bring forth fruit meet for repentance, or the conversion is not real. The words must be followed by a changed life or the words meant nothing.
Our verse ends, “Shall have mercy.”
Who doesn’t need mercy? And
how reasonable is this requirement. After
all, if you had one right feeling in your heart you would consider it a
great privilege to confess and forsake your sins, whether you ever
received any mercy or not.
1. So, it is your nature to commit sins. You have a sinful nature. That same sinful nature which prompted the sinful deed also prompted the cover-up of that sinful deed, which is a second sinful deed.
2. Continue along this pathway and you shall not prosper. Hell and the lake of fire awaits all those who insist on covering your sins.
3. Won’t you, then, cast off the excuses? Won’t you bare both your sins and your heart to God? And won’t you lay hold of Christ to save you from your sins?