The Truth About Secrets

Everyone has a story to tell, and every part of our lives make up that story… victories, successes and the mistakes. Author Jeannie St. John Taylor wrote a book called “You Wouldn’t Love Me if You Knew” where a boy did something wrong and is afraid he can never be forgiven. He tries to replace the mistake with a series of good deeds but he never feels good enough. Once he comes clean, he learns a powerful truth about forgiveness.

  1. When was the last time you felt unforgivable? What did you learn?
  2. How often to you feel like that little boy… if we only knew your deepest and darkest most private secrets of your life?
  3. If you are currently keeping a secret, why do you think you are afraid to be honest?
  4. When was a time where you came clean with a secret, how did the most important people in your life respond?
  5. How do relationship suffer or benefit from being vulnerable?

Video Questions:

  1. How did you feel after seeing this scene in the film?
  2. How do you think Hannah felt when Cindy denied her the truth she was seeking? How can you relate?
  3. Has someone close to you ever kept a secret (the truth) from you? How did you feel? How did you respond when you learned the truth?
  4. How can you relate to Cindy’s response in this scene?

Bible Study: (2 Samuel 12:1-17) David is a man that has all of his ups and downs record for the world to see, throughout generations of time. The man after God’s own heart, the adulterous murderer king.

David was a giant among godly leaders, but he remained human as his sin with Bathsheba and Uriah showed. He spied Bathsheba bathing, desired her, and engineered the death of her faithful warrior husband, after committing adultery with her (2 Sam. 11).

Nathan, the prophet, confronted David with his secret sin, and David confessed his wrongdoing. The newborn child of David and Bathsheba died. David acknowledged his helplessness in the situation, confessing faith that he would go to be with the child one day. Bathsheba conceived again, bearing Solomon (2 Samuel 12:1-25).

  1. How is it easier to see the sin in someone else but not see it in ourselves? (2 Samuel 12:5-6)
  2. What did Nathan say would be the result of David’s sin? (2 Samuel 12:10-14)
  3. How did David respond when his sin was uncovered? (2 Samuel 12:16-17)
  4. How are you impacted by knowing that David was forgiven but still had to endure the consequences of his sin?

For the rest of the story: Able to rule the people but not his family, David saw intrigue, sexual sins, and murder rock his own household, resulting in his isolation from and eventual retreat before his son Absalom.

  • David grieved long and deep when his army killed Absalom (2 Samuel 18:19-33).
  • David’s kingdom was restored, but the hints of division between Judah and Israel remained (2 Samuel 19:40-43).
  • David had to put down a northern revolt (2 Samuel 20).
  • The last act the books of Samuel report about David is his census of the people, bringing God’s anger but also preparing a place for the temple to be built (2 Samuel 24).
  • The last chapters of 1 Chronicles describe extensive preparations David made for the building and the worship services of the temple.
  • David’s final days involved renewed intrigue among his family, as Adonijah sought to inherit his father’s throne, but Nathan and Bathsheba worked to ensure that Solomon became the next king (1 Kings 1:1-2:12).

Take a look at Psalm 32:

  1. David writes these psalms as confession of his sin. Psalm 32:3 mentions that he kept silent about his sin, how did that make him feel physically and emotionally? (Psalm 32:3-4)
  2. What are some ways that you see sin and guilt affecting people?
  3. According to Psalm 32:5, what did David do and what did God do?
  4. What lessons did David learn about sin and secrets (Bathsheba, Uriah, the front lines)? (Psalm 32:6-11)

A baby lost his life, a warrior lost his life, a woman lost her husband… but don’t judge David too harshly. How have you been like David the sinner?

Take a look at Psalm 51: this is a deeper confession of David’s sin

How have you been like David the forgiven?

The fact is that we have all done horrible things and we try to put on the false face to hide the truth from other people. Here are a few truths about secrets:

  1. Secrets birth other secrets.
  2. Secrets make us lonely.
  3. Secrets disconnect us from other people.
  4. Secrets are not secrets from God, while they do strain our relationship with him.
  5. Secrets prevent us from being fully alive in Christ.
  6. Secrets lose their power when they are shared.

Assignment and Challenge:

  1. What is there about your personality that not many people know?
  2. What is something you have overcome that not many people know?
  3. What is something with which you struggle that not many people know?

What Does the Bible Say About Keeping Secrets?

A secret can be difficult to keep and equally difficult to share, yet life seems to run on secrets, from concealing birthday presents, to obscuring a difficult past, to protecting the whereabouts of an important political figure. The Bible teaches, indirectly, that secrets can be either good or bad, but it does not clearly delineate the right and wrong uses of secrets.

Throughout the history of Israel, political and military secrets are mentioned without pronouncing any moral judgments for or against them (e.g., 2 Samuel 15:35-36). However, in the story of Samson and Delilah (Judges 16:4-22), Samson reveals the source of his strength, an act which, based on the aftermath of his admission, was awfully stupid. It was a secret he should have kept.

Esther’s story provides a positive example of someone who kept a secret. Her decision to hide her nationality (Esther 2:20) became an integral part of God’s plan to save His people (Esther 4:13; 7:3-6). The same story also supports the morality of revealing a secret that, if kept hidden, would cause great wrong or serious harm (Esther 2:21-23).

Proverbs, the central book among the “wisdom literature” of the Bible, is the most explicit about secrets. Chapter 11 says that “a man of understanding holds his tongue. A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret” (Proverbs 11:12-13). So, keeping a secret can be noble, but secrets kept for the wrong reason earn a person the title of “wicked,” for “a wicked man accepts a bribe in secret to pervert the course of justice” (Proverbs 17:23), and “whoever slanders his neighbor in secret, him will I put to silence” (Psalm 101:5).

One type of secret is always wrong: trying to hide sin. “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). When it comes to our sin, God wants full disclosure, and He grants full forgiveness (Isaiah 1:18).

Of course, there’s no use trying to hide our sin from God. Nothing can be kept from Him. He is “the God of gods . . . and a revealer of secrets” (Daniel 2:47). Even our “secret sins” are exposed in His light (Psalm 90:8). “For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light” (Luke 8:17).

God Himself keeps some things—likely many things—hidden from us: “The secret things belong to the LORD our God” (Deuteronomy 29:29). Jesus asked several people to keep miracles He had done secret. For example, Jesus healed two blind men and told them to “see that no one knows about this” (Matthew 9:30). When Job realized the immensity of God’s knowledge, he spoke of “things too wonderful for me to know” (Job 42:3).

We can conclude that God does not consider keeping a secret to be sinful in and of itself. There are some things that people should know and some things they should not. God’s concern is how secrets are used, whether to protect or to hurt.

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Why So Many Moral Failures?

John Edwards, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and now NY congressman Anthony Weiner is the latest public figure in the news who has fallen due to a moral failure. I don’t know his spiritual situation and would never judge someone else with a superior attitude, but we all ask the question, “What was he thinking?” Did he really think he could behave like this and not be caught, embarrassed or even blackmailed? Since there is no one who is righteous, no not one, we MUST set up a system around us that helps protect us from moral failure.

The old phrase goes, “There, but by the grace of God, go I.” I’m not sure if this line is humbling by saying that we all can fall just like this guy, so don’t think you’re above the temptation, or arrogant, indicating an attitude similar to the Pharisee and the tax collector in (Luke 18:11). It’s hard to check our motivation sometimes.

So, why do these public leaders fall to such stupid decisions?

They Have No Personal Boundaries
Call me legalistic, but I am a freak about personal boundaries, like:

  1. I don’t ride in a car alone with a woman other than with my wife or daughter. I used to share a ride, and it always felt uneasy for me. And never forget, just an accusation can ruin your ministry or reputation.
  2. I will not counsel a woman alone, my office door is open, or I go to the Welcome Center, or the Library with all that glass around us.
  3. I will not share a meal in a restaurant with a woman, just the two of us, under any circumstances, (and don’t justify that lunch by calling it “business”).
  4. I don’t use a computer late at night, or in a non-public place. Men, it just makes sense. Our family computer is in the living room. If your wife or daughter could walk in at any time, makes your commitment to purity much stronger.
  5. I don’t post anything on Facebook or Twitter that I woundn’t want my wife or pastor to see; wait a minute, they CAN read it, along with all the people on my friends list. And don’t think it ends there. Re-postings can keep negative stuff online forever, for my congregation and even future employers to see.

Those are just a few of the examples, but the bottom line is this, you can’t commit adultery with a woman if you are not alone with her. Too many men have sold their marriage, reputation or ministry down the river just to have an orgasm. It’s not worth it men. We’ve got to make tough decisions now and be willing to experience some “inconveniences” for the sake of our family, marriage and the kingdom.

They Think They Can Handle the Temptation
One of the Bible verses that has always sticks out for me on the issue of temptation is 1 Corinthians 10:12. Paul warns us to always be careful because the minute that we think we have a particular sin mastered, we are in danger of that very sin actually becoming our master.

I once read about Gordon MacDonald, pastor and author of Ordering Your Private World. Billy Graham said of one of his books: “It struck me right between the eyes with conviction and I wish that I had read it many years ago.” Another prominent Christian leader described him as “one of the most Godly men I have ever met.” He was the pastor of the largest church in New England and taught at the local seminary.

He became the president of the Intervarsity evangelistic organization, one of the biggest in America. Then it came out around 1987. A sin from a few years previously was exposed, and MacDonald was forced to resign. The sin was adultery. His wife was so shocked she has never trusted him since, and it’s been over ten years.

He was forced to step down as president of Intervarsity. It made most pastors aware of our own spiritual frailty. If this man, with all his much vaunted spiritual discipline, could fall so hard, then no-one was immune from danger, ever. He would never live it down.

Later he said, “The most costly sins I have committed came at a time when I briefly suspended my reverence for God. In such a moment I quietly (and insanely) concluded that God didn’t care and most likely wouldn’t intervene were I to risk the violation of one of His commandments.” Years later, he authored a sequel called, “Rebuilding Your Broken World,” which is confessional and a book of hope for others who have fallen.

They Stop Pursuing Jesus
If these public figures are professing believers, they begin to pursue other things. It is a fact that no one can pursue Jesus and sin at the same time. If someone is trying to get in the pants of a woman who is not his wife, then he cannot claim that his eyes are on Jesus.

This is why the Word of God is essential for anyone who wants to keep a pure heart. Men, we are called to pursue Jesus, and doing so will always lead us away from sin, not towards it.

They Allow Stress to Bring Weakness
When a man experiences a time of intense stress and anxiety he is way more vulnerable to be lured into sin. We’ve got to take the fourth commandment seriously (the one about rest). We’ve got to take care of ourselves emotionally, spiritually and physically, and if we neglect these things, we become an easy target of the enemy.

They Believe They Have the Power to Get Away With it.
It is amazing the arrogance of so many men in power, that they can do something so devastating and sincerely believe that there will be no consequences. Adultery is a big deal, why throw your life away on something so preventable?

They Have No Accountability.
This topic is going to be a kick I will be on for the next few months; just so you will understand and realize where I’m coming from. When there is no accountability, we begin to live secret lives: hiding from our wives, kids, friends and other men. Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17). We need each other. How can we move toward more accountable relationships to keep us on track, out of trouble, and living in integrity? Who do you know that needs an intervention or rescue? Do you need help? This can change everything we know about the church.

Men, I want us to make it, so keep your eyes on Jesus. If anyone is struggling in this area and feel like you are about to sin, get help, call me, let’s talk (at least talk to someone).

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Could it Happen to You?

If you wanted a study of character, nobility, wisdom, courage, and devotion; you could not find a better man than David. The Bible calls him, “… a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22).

Yet there was a dark chapter in David’s life. Even though he was a great man and lover of God, David committed a horrible sin against God and others. He entered into an adulterous relationship with another man’s wife, Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:3, 4). Then, in an attempt to cover his sin, he arranged to have her husband, Uriah, killed (2 Samuel 11:6, 15).

We need to be warned! If it could happen to David, it can happen to us. First Corinthians 10:12 says, “…let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” So, we need to see how and why this happened in David’s life to help it not happen to us.

Second Samuel 11:1-2 says, “In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to fight the Ammonites. They destroyed the Ammonite army and laid siege to the city of Rabbah. However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem. Late one afternoon, after his midday rest, David got out of bed and was walking on the roof of the palace. As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath.”

The Sin of Casualness:
What was David’s sin? In the beginning, it was simply the sin of casualness. The harvest time was over, and there were battles to be fought; yet David remained at home. He did not do anything wrong in itself; he just failed to do what was right. He was a king, but he lay around in bed all day while others fought.

Maybe the battle-scarred veteran thought, “I’ve done my time on the battlefield; I need a little rest and relaxation.” Don’t ever think you have done your service to Jesus and you can quit.

The Sin of dis-Connectedness:

I think David was also alone; he did not have another man to keep him accountable or faithful. A man who is disconnected will fall for lack of focus and counsel. Life unchecked will often lead to ruin. Had David been in an accountability relationship, perhaps this whole scenario could have been avoided. Every man needs to be connected to other men, or he will be led astray by his own desires, passions and weaknesses.

The Sin of Carelessness:
It was also a sin of carelessness. David had failed to keep up his guard. How different David was from Joseph. When tempted by Potiphar’s wife, Joseph immediately fled (see Genesis 39:11-13). He obeyed what later would be an imperative by the apostle Paul, “Flee fornication” (1 Corinthians 6:18). Jesus also warned the apostles in Matthew 26:41: “Watch and pray, that you don’t enter into temptation.”

You will have times in your life when everything is going just fine and you don’t feel any unusual temptation, but watch out for the sin of carelessness.

The Sin of Compulsiveness:
David’s sin was also a sin of compulsiveness. It has been said that sin is an undetected weakness, an unexpected opportunity, and an unprotected life. That was true in David’s life. He didn’t intend to sin; it just happened. He looked over the wall and there she was. He called his servants and said, “Get her for me” (2 Samuel 11:4).

You may say, “Well, that couldn’t happen to me.” David would have said the same thing before he compulsively fell into sin. There are three people seated in your seat right now: the person you are this very moment; the person you could be for God; and the person you could be for evil.

The Sin of Callousness:
The sin of David doesn’t end with Bathsheba. David became calloused and tried to cover his sin. When he found out Bathsheba was pregnant, he attempted to hide the fact that the baby was his. When that failed, he arranged for Bathsheba’s husband to be placed on the front line of battle and killed (see 2 Samuel11:5-17).

Can you imagine this is David doing such a thing? When he committed adultery with Bathsheba, that was bad enough; but it was a hot-blooded sin. Now, what he does to Uriah is cold-blooded murder. See where his carelessness led him. David had been hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

It Could Happen to You!
This is a sad story, and God was grieved by it (2 Samuel 11:27). David also grieved over his sin and finally cried out to God for mercy. And as we read about the rest of his life (2 Samuel 12 through 1 Kings 2), we see that the consequences of David’s sin followed him; but David received forgiveness from God.

You very well might say, “That’s an interesting story; maybe I can pass it on to somebody else who needs it.” Then you missed the point. David got into trouble with the sin of casualness. He didn’t go roaring into sin. Don’t ever think it couldn’t happen to you. Is your heart cold? Get it warm. Have you been lazy? Go to work. Have you been careless? Keep the fire burning for Christ and His mission.

Don’t take that first step toward sin. It will cost you more than you want to pay.

David was After God's Heart?

This Sunday we continue in the life of David with this somewhat humorous episode of what happens to David’s servants as they deliver condolences to the Ammonite king; then we will look at the wages of sin from the Bathsheba era in his life. 

  1. Why does David send his servants to Hanun, king of the Ammonites? 10:1-2
  2. How does Hanun treat the servants? 10:4 (too funny, we can laugh now, such a picture), but we can learn…
    • Lesson 1 – David shows active sympathy for the suffering, 10:2
    • Lesson 2 – David’s intentions were misunderstood, 10:3, 5
    • Lesson 3 – David is fiercely loyal and protective to his people, 10:5
    • Lesson 4 – David took on their enemy himself, sending Joab and his mighty men, 10:7
  3. What is the outcome of the inevitable battle? 10:13, 14
  4. Introduction:
    • What is your favorite springtime activity?
    • How soon do you believe people begin sunbathing in Virginia Beach?
    • Who was your “girl next door” or “big man on campus?”
  5. What significance do you see in the timing of David’s sin? 2 Samuel 11:1, 2
    • What was he supposed to be doing? 2 Samuel 11:1
    • What three specific actions did David take toward his sin? 2 Samuel 11:3, 4
  6. Where did David go wrong?
    • Lesson 1 – He was in the wrong place at the wrong time 2 Samuel 11:1, 2 (he was at home rather than in battle, and he got up from his bed, open to boredom and temptation.
    • Lesson 2 – He failed to protect himself with a network of accountability, answering to no one, he grew accustomed to wanting and getting.
    • Lesson 3 – He was lonely and made a plan (note the three actions of #5. b.)
      • Sinned in thought – 2 Samuel 11:2
      • Sinned in word – 2 Samuel 11:3
      • Sinned in deed – 2 Samuel 11:4
  7. Could Bathsheba have prevented this from happening?
  8. What superior character qualities do you see in Uriah? 2 Samuel 11:9, 11, 13 (Deuteronomy 23:9-10).
    • What does this reveal about David?
    • Where do you see the first hint of fear in David? About Uriah? About Joab?
    • Have you ever felt someone was faking an interest in you for an ulterior motive?
    • How did David involve Joab in his sin?
    • How would you describe David’s heart at this point? 2 Samuel 11:25
  9. How far away is David’s heart? God’s commentary is 2 Samuel 11:27
    • Lesson 1 – He resisted opportunities to repent, but chose to stay in this revolving door of deception. 
      • How could he have repented or acted with integrity?
      • Why did he NOT repent
    • Lesson 2 – He was unmoved by Uriah’s integrity.
    • Lesson 3 – He tried to cover his own sin, rather than confess it. (Psalm 32:1)
    • Lesson 4 – He involved a lot of others in his sin.
  10. What is Bathsheba feeling as her identity changes from Uriah’s wife, to David’s lover, to Uriah’s widow, to David’s bride? 2 Samuel 11:26-27
  11. Why does Nathan the prophet speak to David using a parable? 2 Samuel 12:1, 2, 3, 4
    • Why did he use a sheep in his story?
    • Why does the absence of justice and mercy in Nathan’s story enrage David? 2 Samuel 12:5-6
    • What is Nathan’s perspective on gratitude? 2 Samuel 12:7-9
    • What three sons will meet a violent death in this prophecy? 2 Samuel 12:10
      • 2 Samuel 13:28-29
      • 2 Samuel 18:14-15
      • 1 Kings 2:24-25
  12. How did the prophecy of 2 Samuel 12:11, 12 come to pass? 2 Samuel 16:21, 22
  13. What toll did this sin take on David? Psalm 32:3, 4, 5
  14. How does David’s response to rebuke compare to Saul’s response in a similar situation? 2 Samuel 12:13, Psalm 51 (1 Samuel 13:11-12, 15:13-26).
  15. How did David respond to the child’s sudden illness? 2 Samuel 12:15-25
  16. Notice God did not do what David asked (2 Samuel 12:16) but died (2 Samuel 12:18). Since prayer did not change the child’s health, what did change?
    • Lesson 1 – David’s plea forced him to a place of dependence on God.
    • Lesson 2 – David’s plea satisfied his spirit (the child did not die because he did not ask God to spare him).
    • Lesson 3 – David’s plea ensured his survival through this tragedy he and his wife would suffer (enabling him to comfort his wife 2 Samuel 12:24-25).
    • Lesson 4 – David’s plea touched God’s heart, He disciplines those whom He loves (Hebrews 12:6). Solomon was called, Jedidiah, which means “beloved of the Lord,” the successor to the throne.
  17. No relief like repentance – Psalm 51
    • Psalm 51:1 – have mercy, according to Your love and compassion
    • Psalm 51:2 – wash and cleanse from sin
    • Psalm 51:3 – I know my sin, you can live without it, give it up
    • Psalm 51:4 – sin is against God alone; the biggest heartbreak
    • Psalm 51:5 – sinful at birth; it is a part of me
    • Psalm 51:6 – God desires truth; even when we don’t want to believe it
    • Psalm 51:7 – cleanse me with hyssop (Exodus 12:22-23) I’ll be whiter than snow
    • Psalm 51:8 – let the bones You have crushed rejoice; the pain of confessing and repenting will bring healing
    • Psalm 51:9 – hide Your face from my sin; our total depravity keeps us from looking to God, shame, embarrassment, He wants to forgive
    • Psalm 51:10 – create in me a pure heart; create is bara, like in Genesis 1:1, which only God can do for us
    • Psalm 51:11 – don not take the Holy Spirit from me; a fate worse than death
    • Psalm 51:12 – restore the joy of Your salvation
    • Psalm 51:13 – I will teach others and they will return to God; the forgiven become evangelists to God’s goodness

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