This morning, while reading in Luke 12, I came across Jesus words in verses 2 and 3:
“Nothing is covered up which will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops” (ESV).
Of course, the context is his warning to avoid the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. He often accuses them of doing one thing in public but doing another in private. Jesus does not want this to be us.
One way this is taken is to live our lives in constant awareness that what we do in secret is seen by God and will be revealed. But is this what he is calling us to do? Is this how he is calling us to live? Is this the secret to holiness? I would argue that it is not—at least not without some deeper understanding. Years ago, a young man asked me the difference between a child and an adult. My answer to his was simple, “A child does what is right to avoid being punished (if a child thinks he or she can get away with it, they have no reason to restrain themselves). But an adult does what is right for no other reason than that it is the right thing to do. This is character.
It has often been said that character is who you are when no one else is watching. If you are holy there is no need to fear being caught because the holy person lives holy; because the holy person is holy. We see a similar version of this when Paul speaks in Romans 2 about those who are a law unto themselves. The law says “Do not murder.” But if I love my neighbor, I need no law telling me not to murder him. The law says “Do not commit adultery.” But if I love my neighbor, I would never touch his wife. If I love my wife, then I will not touch another woman. My character, if holy, should be such that I do not need a law to tell me what to do. Paul describes the law as a guardian to keep us in check until Christ came. He goes on to say that “now that faith has come we are no longer under a guardian” (Gal 3:24-25 ESV). Don’t get me wrong. This is not antinomianism. This is transformation. The spirit of the law is still kept—I do not kill, steal, cheat, etc. because I am no longer a person who would do such things. Through the Holy Spirit’s presence, I have become a different person. While I am not there perfectly, I am getting there. This is where the law comes in. If I am a new believer who has not learned quite how God would have me live, I can look into the law and see the things which God forbade. I am no longer under law, for it was only a shadow of the real things that were to come (Heb 10:1). Yet, I must now live in the reality that casts the shadow—the truly holy life. So, please do not take this as a license to unholy living. This is actually a key to truly free-living—free from the bondage to our lost and spiritually dead selves.
What about this command of Jesus to understand that all hidden things will be displayed. Do we live holy lives because we know we will someday be caught? Not if we are holy. Jesus is here making a statement of fact. He says nothing is hidden from God and nothing will escape the light of his truth. This is not a reason to live holy (I live this way so God does not catch me living that way). It is an encouragement to holiness (I live this way because God, who loves me, sees me and I seek to please him). There are those times when we are tempted. One major problem in the church is porn addiction among the people and leaders. This is one of those problems that is fed by darkness and hiding. Addictions are another. When we sneak around to do things we lead ourselves into a bad place. Before long the hidden and dark take over our lives. Jesus is reminding us that nothing is hidden, so live the life of an open book. Understand these things. Live this life, not because you will get caught, but because you want to live the life of light and truth. This is an effective inspiration to avoid hypocrisy.