Secret Sins in the Light of God’s Countenance

What you think of God shapes your whole world-view. For one thing, if you have a low view of God, you’ll have a higher view of yourself than you ought to have, and that’s the sin of pride. So how we think about God has major practical ramifications.” – Phil Johnson

While traveling this week, I took the opportunity to listen to this sermon by Phil Johnson.  It is an excellent treatise on secret sin and I highly recommend you listen to it.  It has also been transcribed and if you prefer to read it and ponder over it, you can do that here.

Edward Payson – Sins Estimated By The Light Of Heaven

Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of Thy countenance.” – Psalm 90:8

EdwardPaysonIt is a well known fact that the appearance of objects, and the ideas which we form of them, are very much affected by the situation in which they are placed in respect to us, and by the light in which they are seen. Objects seen at a distance, for example, appear much smaller than they really are. The same object, viewed through different mediums, will often exhibit very different appearances. A lighted candle, or a star, appears bright during the absence of the sun; but when that luminary returns, their brightness is eclipsed. Since the appearance of objects, and the ideas which we form of them, are thus affected by extraneous circumstances, it follows, that no two persons will form precisely the same ideas of any object, unless they view it in the same light, or are placed with respect to it in the same situation. These remarks have a direct and important bearing upon the intended subject of the present discourse. No person can read the scriptures candidly and attentively, without perceiving, that God and men differ very widely in the opinion which they entertain respecting almost every object. And in nothing do they differ more widely, than in the estimate which they form of man’s moral character, and of the malignity and deceit of sin. Nothing can be more evident than the fact, that in the sight of God our sins are incomparably more numerous, aggravated and criminal, than they appear to us. He regards us as deserving of an endless punishment, while we scarcely perceive that we deserve any punishment at all. Now whence arises this difference? The remarks which have just been made will inform us. God and men view objects through a very different medium, and are placed with respect to them in very different situations. God is present with every object; he views it as near, and therefore sees its real magnitude. But many objects, especially those of a religious nature, are seen by us at a distance, and of course appear to us smaller than they really are. God sees every object in a perfectly clear light; but we see most objects dimly and indistinctly. In fine, God sees all objects just as they are; but we see them through a deceitful medium, which ignorance, prejudice and self-love place between them and us.

Apply these remarks to the case before us. The Psalmist, addressing God, says, “Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.” That is, our iniquities or open transgressions, and our secret sins, the sins of our hearts, are placed, as it were, full before God’s face, immediately under his eye; and he sees them in the pure, clear, all-disclosing light of his own holiness and glory. Now if we would see our sins as they appear to him, that is, as they really are, if we would see their number, blackness and Continue reading