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A Theology of Exposure: Nothing is Hidden

These past few months have been full of accusations in the media. Over and over we have seen prominent figures throughout Hollywood, the business world, and politics be accused of sexual misconduct. Just as I was writing this article, another prominent media figure was fired for misconduct. We have seen bosses accused of abusing their position of authority with crude comments and actions. And we have also seen full-blown attacks, citing both abusive and discriminatory acts. While we also want to exercise caution in believing every allegation, desiring to hear the story before making a conclusion (Prov. 18:17), we do recognize that there are allegations like this that are indeed true. We also recognize that these stories are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to scandal, abuse of power, and sexual misconduct by those in authoritative positions. Unfortunately, there are many more stories of darkness that could be reported.

Thankfully, the Bible speaks about this. In fact, when there are certain abuses of power and position the Bible helps provide a theology of exposure in regards to sin. What I mean by a theology of exposure is that sinful living is accompanied with the promise of exposure—those wrongs will come to light. Nothing is hidden. The Bible consistently teaches that those who hide sin will be exposed by their sin, by others about their sin, and by Jesus on the Day of Judgment. I want to demonstrate this theology of exposure from a few key texts and then offer to you a few implications for our task of counseling those who hide sin.

Exposed By Sin

The first principle is that the Bible teaches that we will be exposed by our sin. This is probably the most familiar of the biblical texts to you. Moses was agreeing with the people of Reuben and Gad that if they would go ahead the children of Israel to war, then they would be free of obligation to the Lord and they would possess the land they desired in Gilead (Num. 32:22). However, if they would not go before Israel to war, “Behold, you have sinned against the Lord, and be sure your sin will find you out.” If the men of Gad and Reuben would not hold their end of the deal, their sin would find them out, literally Moses is saying your sin “will happen to, befall on, or reach you.”1

Moses shows us that our sin will expose us. Isaiah 59:12 uses a similar idea of our sins in that they will “testifying against us.” The Bible teaches that when we sin, our very sins will expose us. We cannot harbor sin, as believers, because we recognize that even the sins that we seek to harbor have this exposing function in our life. Furthermore, to harbor sin is both dangerous to ourselves and to others (Prov. 28:13; Ps. 32:3). One of the things we need to hear among all of the public scandals taking place around us is that we can be confident that our sins will expose us if we do indeed harbor them. This is part of the grace of God in our lives that he graciously uses our sin to expose us and bring about consequences of our sins to us. If we harbor sin, we can be sure that our sins will “find us out.”

Exposed by Others

One of the next aspects to our theology of exposure is that we can be sure that in our hidden sin there will be others who expose us. Ephesians 5:11 is a command to “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” Paul was suggesting that the sinful activities taking place around the Ephesians needed to be rebuked so that those sins could be brought into the light. And it seems he is making reference to rebuking the deeds of “the sons of disobedience,” but the call goes forward to all Christians to expose evil (Eph. 5:8). This is perhaps what we see taking place all around us in the media. Among the swirling allegations there are those who have harbored sin and others are now bringing their sins to light. This is the proverbial confrontation of King David by Nathan, the prophet (2 Sam. 12:7). Sin will be exposed by others.

We can rest assured that our sins will not only bring exposure in and of themselves, but that God will appoint others to expose our hidden sins. This is everything from someone graciously intervening with sinful patterns in our lives to people stumbling into a secretive sin of ours. The Bible teaches that our sins will, and should, be exposed by others. Praise God this is true! Those in the media with truthful allegations facing them should know that out of God’s kindness he has used others to expose their sin. Furthermore, he uses us in the task of counseling to expose sin. Some of our counselees need to hear of the sin that they are committing and God’s alternative for their sinful living. Either way, we recognize that part of the grace of God manifested in our lives is that he uses others—believers and unbelievers—to expose the hidden sins of “darkness.”

Exposed by “The Day”

Just as sobering as the above principles of exposure is that we can be sure that Jesus will expose secret sins. 1 Corinthians 3 makes it clear that, “each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it” (3:13). We can be sure that our sins will be exposed by Jesus on the Day of Judgment. Jesus will bring to “bring to light the things now hidden in darkness” (1 Cor. 4:5). Your sins will be exposed on the Day of Judgment. If it weren’t enough that our sins would expose us or others will expose our sins, we recognize the Bible that Jesus will bring to light the things in darkness.

This final aspect of our theology of exposure is that we can know that the wrongs that are committed, hidden, and seemingly successfully kept secret will one day be exposed before Jesus—even small things like sinful words will come to the light (Matt. 12:36; Heb. 9:27). We do not need to fret or concern ourselves with whether or not the hidden sins will come to light—Jesus will bring them to the light. This is another one of the acts of God’s kindness towards man—judging us according to our actions. Many times this theology of exposure at the Day of Judgment is offered is to help encourage us to righteous living because we will give an account of our actions. We know that we will give account of the hidden things in our life and this should prompt us to God-honoring actions (Rom. 14:12).

Counseling Implications

In each of these recent allegations we are reminded of this theology of exposure. We recognize that not every allegation is true—this is important to clarify. However, what is true is that our hidden sins have a liability with them: we must understand this theology of exposure in regards to sin. This brings comfort to the counselor and counselee, as they recognize this theology of exposure.

The counselor recognizes that if they don’t “uncover” that hidden sin, that the hidden sin will be revealed. We, as counselors, have confidence in the fact that the hidden sins of our counselees will be made manifest and that we do not have to interrogate our counselees into a confession. Most candidly, we can sleep at night as a counselor by recognizing this theology of exposure. Your counselee can be sure that their sins will indeed find them out—even if they don’t tell us as their counselor.

Secondarily, you can help people in your life who have been sinned against by those in authority. They can truly find comfort and direction in this theology of exposure. The comfort is that the sins committed against them will be made manifest. They can trust that God will settle accounts (Rom. 12:19). And direction is provided in that they should do what they can to expose those sins in a God-honoring way. This is not social media mud-slinging, but a biblical approach to confrontation and exposure (Gal. 6:1-3; Matt. 18:15-17).

One final aspect is for those who have been falsely accused. We recognize that not all of the allegations are true in current media outlets. For those who have been falsely accused, the encouragement of a theology of exposure is that the hidden sins of their accusers will be brought into the light. Our goal is to guide our falsely accused counselees towards doing good while being falsely accused (1 Pet. 2:12). Our counselees can have comfort and recognize these false allegations are a means of refining their faith. The falsely accused one can take wise steps to expose error, while recognizing that the sins of their accusers will be brought to light.

Conclusion

Whether or not each allegation in the media is true, we can have confidence in what the Scripture teaches about sin and the way in which sin will be made manifest. The Bible consistently teaches that those who hide sin will be exposed by their sin, by others about their sin, and by Jesus on the Day of Judgment. As we help our counselees navigate being sinned against by those in authority or being falsely accused by those under their authority, we can teach them these truths about sin from the Scripture. And ultimately they must know that God is the Judge, and as Abraham asked, “shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” (Gen. 18:25).


1. Wilhelm Gesenius, and Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2003), 499, Col. B.

Greg is going to be a plenary speaker at our Annual Conference this coming year in Fort Worth, TX. For more information and to register, visit here.

Greg E. Gifford

Greg E. Gifford is Assistant Professor of Biblical Counseling at The Master’s University. He is a PhD student in Biblical Counseling at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, holds a Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling from The Master’s University, and a BA in Pastoral Ministry from Baptist Bible College.

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