Did you know that there are entities that are tracking your daily social media activities? Yep, that’s right! All the information you share about you, including meta-data and contextual information you may not even be aware of, provides more than enough information to allow advertisers to track you and hackers to take advantage of your online identity.
The New York Times recently released (7-5-18) an expose on the data mining techniques or the tracking capabilities of another form of technology—smart TVs. Did you know that by the end of 2017, over 45 percent of US households possessed at least one smart TV? Frequently these TVs run software that track our entertainment habits, which gather data that can be sold to advertisers. While these data-gathering programs normally require an “opt-in” process whereby you agree to allow such tracking, consumers don’t clearly grasp what they’re opting into, because the terms of service and policy agreements are written in such vague, lengthy, and laborious language. As such, you and your entertainment habits are under the microscope.
There are two glaring truths from social media tracking that jump out at me: 1) Private choices sometimes are not so private, and 2) Private choices sometimes have public consequences.
This is certainly true when it comes to the hidden sins of our lives. You know, those secret sins of action (doing what we shouldn’t), inaction (not doing what we should), and attitude (thinking on what we shouldn’t and not thinking about what we should) that we choose to engage in, believing they are perpetrated behind closed doors and away from public viewing and scrutiny. The fact is; however, our private sins are not private, secret, or hidden at all, and they have consequences that are eventually and publicly manifested.
Hidden sins are not hidden from God. Although we all know this, our “hidden” actions betray that we fully understand this truth (Psalm 90:8; Isaiah 29:15; Ezekiel 8:12). We can never sin apart from God’s knowledge because He is everywhere present (Psalm 139:1-12; Jeremiah 16:17; Jeremiah 23:24) and He knows the secrets of our hearts (Psalm 44:21; Jeremiah 17:10). When we choose to sin in a covert fashion, there will be consequences: we will not truly prosper as God so desires (Proverbs 28:13), God will seem distant to us (Isaiah 59:2), our prayers will be hindered from entering His ears (Psalm 66:18-19; Isaiah 59:2), and we will grieve the heart of the God we love (Ephesians 4:30).
Hidden sins can suck the life out of us. When we sin secretly, or any time for that matter, we must deal with our regret and guilt (Psalm 38:4; Psalm 69:5), which drains us of our spiritual and physical vitality (Psalm 32:3-4).
Hidden sins affect others as well. Numbers 32:23 warns “be sure your sin will find you out.” The sins we commit privately can make their way into the public arena through the negative affects those sins have on others, directly or indirectly, in ways we never intended. As already stated, secret sin produces guilt, and guilt has a way of changing us. Others see those changes and are affected by them. Additionally, if our hidden sins are exposed, families, friends, and the Christian community will be harmed. Worse still, the cause of Christ will be damaged as unbelievers are given fresh reasoning to scoff at and reject the name of Jesus Christ.
If you are struggling with or have “opted-in” to private, hidden sins, understand that like social media tracking, your sins are not private or hidden and most likely will have personal and public, negative consequences. So, just as you would with a smart TV that you no longer wish to gather data regarding your entertainment habits, you need to “opt-out” of the arrangement in four ways.
First, confess to God that you have a sin problem. He graciously forgives (1 John 1:9). Second, get into the Bible and let it get into you (Hebrews 4:12) by studying its pages, applying its truth, and memorizing select passages that deal particularly with your area of sin weakness. Third, get with an accountability partner who can encourage, counsel, and pray with you as you deal with the temptation of hidden sin. Fourth, aim at not giving in and refuse to give up, because the cause of Christ is way too important, the stakes are way too high to lose, and God’s love for you is way too immense and will never fluctuate no matter what, come what will. Praise God!
Your friend and pastor,