Are you harboring secret sin in your life?

He sneaked and watched pornographic videos while his wife was sleeping, and his craving didn’t lessen – it intensified. He was a man of faith and knew he was wrong – he once even took his porn collection and dropped it into a dumpster, far away from his home.

His “secret sin,” an addiction to pornography, started when he was 8 years old. Yes - 8. In his growing-up years, he had been exposed to a family friend’s porn magazine collection. "From my first look, I was hooked," he said. That’s where the downward spiral began. It continued long after he had embarked on a successful music career, married a beautiful woman, and started a family.

Later, he said that pornography had helped fill a void left by a broken home. "I was adopted when I was 4," he said. "The woman who adopted me, she was 64 years old. My mama didn't want me; my daddy wasn't there. So there were a lot of insecurities and low self-esteem.”

Marriage, riches, and fame didn’t “fix” his problem.

He sneaked and watched pornographic videos while his wife was sleeping, and his craving didn’t lessen – it intensified. He was a man of faith and knew he was wrong – he once even took his porn collection and dropped it into a dumpster, far away from his home. Sadly, in the quietness of the next morning, he went back to that dumpster and dug through trash and debris to retrieve his stash.

"Then I had to accept that I had a problem," he said, and he approached his wife to confess, discuss, and combat it.

“He” is Kirk Franklin, multiple Grammy Award-winning gospel music star. And he is not alone.

Recent statistics are startling: every day, 2.5 billion emails (yes, billion with a "b") containing pornography or sent or received; 68 million search queries related to pornography are generated; and about 40 million U.S. adults regularly visit internet pornography websites. It’s an open secret but pornography is an epidemic.

Pornography is one of many so-called secret sins that destroy marriages, families, and lives every single day. Secret, private sins are those that you alone know, unless another party is involved. They can run the gamut from adultery; to fornication; to pride; to lust; to racism; to abuse of all kinds; to drug, prescription drug, and alcohol addiction; to so much more.

Is there anything you are thinking or doing that brings you private conviction, even though you find yourself repeating the thought pattern or behavior? Is this behavior guarded, so that (in your mind at least) nobody knows it but you? Do you feel regret or remorse, yet the cycle repeats? That may be a secret sin.

The thing is secret sin is not really secret at all - nothing is hidden from an all-seeing, all-knowing God. Yet so many individuals in marriages and relationships and families harbor secrets - private battles that they are unwilling to share with spouses and loved ones. And that’s just what the devil wants because secret sins will eat us alive.

Just ask David, Israel’s greatest king. David, the “man after God own’s heart” allowed lust to take him over after catching a balcony view of Bathsheba. But he paid dearly for his transgression. Listen at the pain in his words of Psalm 32:3-4: “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away. Through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.” David initially refused to acknowledge his wrongdoing and he was tormented. But he ultimately found relief through confession after God used the prophet Nathan to call him out.

Secret sins in a marriage or any relationship break trust, block intimacy, decrease self-esteem, and even block God’s blessings. They do self-inflicted damage.

Unconfessed sins and an unrepentant heart can put up a barrier between us and God. Isaiah 59:2 tells us, “Your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that He will not hear.” Sin can very literally block our prayers and our blessings.

Asking God to move on our behalf when we knowingly indulge in sin can lead to our prayers going unanswered. Psalm 66:18 says, “If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.”

In 1 Peter 3:7, it tells us that our prayers are answered according to how we treat our wives. If we dishonor our wife and fail to treat her with respect and adoration, our prayers can be hindered. We want our prayers to be answered.

So let’s examine ourselves – are we, to our knowledge, harboring any secret sins? Is there some private battle that you and I are fighting that needs to be expressed to a spouse, or pastor, or best friend, or small group, or Christian counselor?

I have learned in these living years that the Christian life is a lifelong journey of surrender on the way to becoming more like Jesus. Change comes when we bring our struggles out of the darkness and allow His light to shine upon them – and upon us. We must surrender.

So many of us are willing to confess our sin to the Lord, but the thought of telling someone else is embarrassing - and sometimes terrifying. We think “What would they think of me if they knew?”

But God created us for community, and we are called to bear one another’s burdens. Be mindful of “keeping it to myself,” which sometimes brings the added guilt of the sin of pride. Sharing our struggle can strip the devil of his power over us. And we might be surprised by the kindness and support we receive from godly family and friends who love us. We may also be surprised by someone who says, “Hey - me too!” Their struggle may not be our struggle but many of us can relate because we have hidden pockets that we also try and manage on our own.

As long as we keep our secret sin or private struggle on the downlow, the devil wins. Hear David’s relief in Psalm 32:5, after he was exposed: "Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity." I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord. “And you forgave the guilt of my sin."

Often, it’s not our behavior that is our biggest problem. Sometimes, it is what we fail to believe about ourselves. We are called to be new creatures in Jesus Christ. A true salvation experience with the living Christ means that things must change - the process of transformation begins and continues throughout our lives.

Sins, secret and otherwise, must be confronted and can be overcome.

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