Secret Sins

"Our secret sins in the light of Thy countenance." ­Psalms 90:8.

SAMUEL M. ZWEMER, Reprinted by permission of the American Tract Society

"Our secret sins in the light of Thy countenance.' '­Psalms 90:8.

In this Psalm Moses, the man of God,  tramples upon the pride of humanism. God inhabits eternity and is the Rock of Ages. Man's days are as the grass that withereth. His sins arouse God's anger. But God's mercy endureth forever.

Right in the center of the Psalm, we have the startling words: "Thou hast set our iniq­uities before Thee; our secret sins in the light of thy countenance." We sing, "Beneath the cross of Jesus . . the shadow . . ." but Moses tells us that what we call the shadow of the Cross is the blazing searchlight of God's glory in the face of Jesus Christ.

The Cross of Christ is the searchlight of God. It reveals God's love and man's sin; God's power and man's helplessness; God's holiness and man's pollution. As there is a straight line from every point in the circumference of a circle to the center, so the Bible doctrine of salvation, in all its wide circumference and with all it in­cludes of a new heart and a new society, a new heaven and a new earth, leads back in a straight line to the center of all: The Lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world (Reve­lation 13:8).

At the Cross of Calvary all of God's holiness, all of His love and all of man's sin met in our Saviour, never to meet again. All of humanity's iniquity was set before Jesus on the Cross. He bore our sins in His own body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24).

Secret sins are surely not those that are hidden from God, because He knows all, nor are they the sins that are hidden from our neighbors. They are the sins hidden from ourselves. Luther's rendering, "unrecognized sins," gives the exact meaning. "If we say we have no sin we deceive (only) ourselves" (1 John 1:8).

There are many kinds of sin, but all sin is rebellious in its very nature; it is the transgression of God's law. And the Bible is the only sacred book that deals fundamentally with this subject. In a sense, the Bible might be called an Encyclopedia on sin. An omnibus of biog­raphies of sinners! It tells of sin's origin, its consequences, its character, its punishment in this world and hereafter. Best of all, and most of all, it tells of its forgiveness.

Secret sins are the most important because, like germs of disease, the germs of sin breed in darkness. "Leaven," Jesus called it: the leaven of the Pharisees, hypocrisy; the leaven of the Sadducees, unbelief. Hypocrisy and unbelief are like cancer in the soul.

Now what is the light that reveals our secret sins? "The light of Thy countenance." . .. It is the face of Jesus Christ, whose eyes are as a flame of fire yet tender as a mother's love, and in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge and love. He is the express image of Divinity . . . (Hebrews 1:3).

The X-ray of the Cross goes far beyond the whole spectrum of the Old Testament—beyond the red rays of David in the Psalm 51, the purple of Moses in Psalm 90, and the violet of Isaiah 6. "I am undone. . . ." It pierces through everything (Psalm 139). This is best seen by illustration. Think of Mary Magdalene at the feast when Jesus looked at her; of Peter in the hall and by the Lake; of Simon the Pharisee; of Saul on the road to Damascus.

It is not strange that the greatest saints have always felt themselves the greatest sinners, be­cause they lived and prayed nearest the search­light, the Cross! St. Paul, John Bunyan, Pascal, St. Francis of Assisi!

Paul was not of the perfectionist school. His sense of sin grew with his years. Sin appears exceedingly sinful to him daily. Romans 7 is more than a theological discourse; it is a page torn from Paul's diary, wet with his tears. It humbles us, increases our daily penitence and humility. It pours contempt on all our pride. It gives us more compassion for those who are ignorant and out of the way. We are touched with the feeling of their infirmity because we, too, are tempted.

"Judge not that ye be not judged" (Matthew 7:1). The infinite pity of Jesus Christ is due to the fact that He (Who was made sin for us al­though He knew no sin) saw reflected in His own heart on the tree the sin of the whole race. In that mirror, on the Cross, He saw at once all God's justice, all man's sin, and all God's love. Then burst His mighty heart! And there flowed forth blood and water!

And He became "of sin the double cure to cleanse me from its guilt and power"!


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SAMUEL M. ZWEMER, Reprinted by permission of the American Tract Society

September 1955

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