“Do it yourself” projects can be fun and interesting but they are often a bit deceiving. The experts who put together projects for “do it yourselfers” sometimes underestimate the work and knowledge necessary to obtain the same results they get, making projects look easier than they really are. What may be simple for one person can be exceptionally challenging for someone else with different gifts and talents. Experience also plays a huge factor because the more time and effort we have put into something, the more “unforeseen” problems we have faced and solved! And even though experts can help avoid or sidestep difficulties, rarely can “do it yourselfers” come out unscathed, and very often mistakes need to be covered up.
Ultimately, there is no substitute for expertise. For example, most of us call the electrician when we need electric work done in our homes. If he finds bad wiring and informs us of a fire hazard, I doubt we would argue with him or share our opinion, but would get the repair work done. We call on contractors to build, add on, or fix problems in our homes. We usually take their advice, especially if they find issues, and it is unlikely we ignore what they have to say. We call on dentists when we need teeth fixed, doctors when we have medical concerns, lawyers when we have legal issues, bankers or financial experts when we have money questions, and plumbers when we have…pipe problems . We might get a second opinion at times, but rarely do we pretend to be the expert in these things, nor would we think it appropriate to argue with those who know more than we do!
It seems natural that we would do the same spiritually, you know, call on the experts to help us understand the Bible, grow in faith, and grasp truth. Unfortunately, this is not usually the case. Instead, when it comes to God, the Bible, and religion most people tend to be “Do it yourselfers”, forming their own opinions with little to no help from the experts. People like to tell God their plans, “make their peace” with Him (whatever that means) and go on with life! If a Christian pastor speaks truth, suggests a change of direction, tells us our spiritual understanding (wiring) is messed up, or that we have some problem areas, we rarely listen to their advice. We would rather argue, walk away, make our own plans, and continue to do our own thing. There always seems to be someone who will come into agreement with us, so we just keep looking until we find them.
Rejecting spiritual advice from those who are called to give it is like telling an electrician we disagree with them when they inform us a fire is imminent. Or telling a contractor we don’t consider the cracked foundation he found to be a big issue so we will just take our chances. We tell spiritual mentors, “Thanks for the information but we’ll be fine!”
This happens because electricians, contractors, dentists, doctors, lawyers, bankers and plumbers all deal with tangible, hands-on problems making it easy to see and feel our own limitations and inabilities. We easily surrender to our need for help if we physically see and feel all is not well, and though we will complain about the cost, we still pay! But when it comes to faith and spiritual issues that we can’t see or touch, we aren’t as willing to admit our limitations and inabilities, or seek advice, or pay the cost. Sin is at the root of nearly all problems in life. This is where the “Do it yourself” approach gets us into the most trouble. We don’t think sin is anybody else’s business and as long as we take it up with God and He is good with us, we do whatever we like. At least that is the prevalent attitude out there.
But here’s the thing about sin! It’s not relative! In other words a sin cannot be compared to other things to determine if it really is sin or not. Our personal definition of sin is irrelevant when it disagrees with God’s Word and this is where it would be wise to consult those who study the Word of God and are appointed by Him to lead us. Most of the time we tell our spiritual leaders what we are doing is not sin. The thing is, sin deceives and destroys leaving us vulnerable and in need of exposure the same way bad wiring or construction is unsafe and we need experts to uncover the problems. Most often we do whatever it takes, including seeking and heeding professional advice to get and stay healthy to rid our lives of physical pain and agony, yet do we make the same effort to care for ourselves spiritually? We generally don’t because we can’t “see” and “feel” it as quickly so it is just a slow fade! Sin eats away at us like decay in our mouths, or germs and virus eat away at our bodies.
The great news is we don’t need to sit back and let sin do its’ dirty work unbeknownst to us. Sin does not define who we are nor does it direct our destiny. Sin should be neither hidden nor flaunted. It is not meant to be argued or debated. It does not have the ability to embarrass or humiliate. It is not a private matter between God and us. Keeping sin secret might save us embarrassment for the time being but in reality it is a huge set-up for failure because where there is no accountability sin runs rampant. Instead, sin is meant to be exposed and expelled from our lives according to the Word of God. Sure, it isn’t always easy. But the answer is still simple. We have a Redeemer. His Name is Jesus! He is our remedy for sin and with our eyes fixed on Him, sin is just sin. Its power is gone when exposed!
All that is required is faith in Jesus to let God’s wisdom and understanding have the driver’s seat in our lives while making human logic and reasoning take a back seat. We don’t leave them behind when we walk in faith but they are no longer the driving force. By faith we accept the fact that without Christ in our lives, we are broken down messes with undetectable cracks and wiring issues in need of repair and professional help. When we open ourselves to the “experts” we discover spiritual matters demand time, endurance, patience, and our cooperation. There are rarely any “quick fixes” when it comes to problems in life. This is usually where we lose interest. We don’t like the fact that we can’t “hire” someone to fix up our lives, so we fix them ourselves, rejecting the leadership of our shepherds, trying to make God fit into our plans, and assuming He fixes our cracks and wiring with no effort on our part. Indeed, on the outside things might appear to “be fine” but in reality we have just covered over problems with our “Do it yourself” remedies.
Through faith in God and His Word we will have no problem seeing that the “Do it yourself” approach in life is not God’s great cover up. James 5:19-20 “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” The only way to turn each away from the error of his way is to call sin what it is; a wandering from truth! We get to talk about truth AND about sin. There are no gray areas here! Neither truth nor sin is relative and exposing sin turns us toward truth saving us from certain death! Now that is great news!
We can probably all agree it is not an easy task to turn sinners from the error of their ways because it is never welcomed. Even those who say they want to be held accountable only like it if they already know they are in sin and confess it before they are held accountable. Instead, we are quick to attack, defend, rationalize, or flat-out deny any error and we totally reject any effort to save our souls from death.
God’s great cover up for sin is further exposed in 1 Peter 4:8 “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’” In these two verses we discover God’s great cover up: Salvation and love cover a “multitude” of sin not just a little bit of sin. However, we must understand this is not like the covering of a nice cozy blanket in bed on a wintry night. Salvation and love are not coverlets for sin, nor would we want them to cover over our sin. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to sleep with a multitude of sins, whether they are covered with love or not! That is like eating chocolate covered maggots. Yuck!
This would be another good place to consult the “experts” when it comes to uncovering the secret to this “cover”. The Greek word for “cover” in these verses is “kalypto”, which most often means “to hide or hinder the knowledge of something”. But if that was the meaning in this context, it would insinuate love hinders our knowledge about the sin in our lives, which is obviously absurd. Instead, in these two verses, “kalypto” means “to pardon the sins or to procure pardon of the multitude of sins from God”. Isn’t that beautiful? Love doesn’t cover our sin in the sense of hiding it, but it pardons, forgives, and removes the sin from us so that we can revel in love! How does that work? By turning one another from the error of our ways, by exposing sin for what it is, and then receiving pardon by turning to His love!
Peter’s reference is taken from Proverbs 10:12 “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins.” This Hebrew word for “cover” most often means to conceal or hide something. But here it means to “pardon” or “officially release us from further punishment.” And we see the same in Psalm 32:1 “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” Psalm 85:2 “You have forgiven the iniquity of Your people; You have covered all their sin.” Knowing these Greek and Hebrew definitions for “cover” helps us expose sin in order to be released from it rather than covering it up or hiding sin.
God’s great cover up for sin is so much better than ours. We embrace His ways by letting Holy Spirit open our eyes to what He is saying rather than reading His Word through our own eyes of understanding. For example, one truth from Scripture that Christians often misread leading us to be silent and deceived when it comes to sin is Matthew 7:3-5 “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Most Christians read this and conclude since we all have planks (sin) we should keep quiet about specks (sin) in others. In other words, since we all have “huge” sins in our lives we should not talk about the “little” sins in the lives of others. But this is not what God is saying at all! By relegating the meaning to this, not only will others not get free from their sin but we won’t either. Nowhere in these verses does it say we are not to remove sin from each other! In fact it says the opposite! Scripture is consistent! We should get rid of our own sin so that we will see CLEARLY to REMOVE sin from our brother or sister. Jesus points out the hypocritical attitude of people who ONLY see the sin of others without acknowledging their own sin. He is not saying “Let’s never talk about sin!”
Hypocrites are people who say one thing but do another; they are pretenders. Hypocrites are not people who call out sin in the family of God. We are hypocrites if we pretend other people have sin and we don’t. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God, but that does not leave us victims. Get rid of our sin, and then let’s deal with sin in others.
The question remains, why are we so willing to remain silent in the face of sin? Because we know people will reject us if we call sin, sin! They will say we don’t love or support them. They will accuse us of being judgmental! They will walk away from us and THEN how can we help them? They will say we aren’t any better than them (no one said we were). They will find others who sympathize with them. They will go find people who will be “nice” and support them instead of letting the kindness of our Lord lead them to repentance. In the end how much better is it to risk rejection for a moment here to save a soul from death? The cost is great – but it is well worth it.
I want to be around people who refuse to cover up the truth of my sin and want the same for themselves. Oh, I know I won’t like it – but the pay-off is worth it. And I want to hang with people who believe in the greatest cover up of all time – The love and salvation of Jesus Christ! Then, we get to go and share this great news with everyone we meet!