Gaining Freedom From Hidden Failure
discover the keys of openness and brokenness
November 18, 2002, is a date my family will never forget. On that day, I made one of the biggest decisions of my life. I chose to come to the light!
For years I had been hiding my sin from the people who knew me best. As a young man, pornography and other lustful activities became a part of my life. I had frequent opportunities to ask others for help, but I was not willing to humble myself in this way. I hid my sin from my parents, my friends, and even my wife.
My hypocrisy was not limited to my personal life. I was a regular churchgoer and was involved in numerous Christian activities. I justified my sin with the idea that because my failures were infrequent, I was okay. I believed the lie that my sin was between only God and me. Therefore, I reasoned, there was no need for me to confess my sin to others.
A Turning Point
On that cool night in November, I stepped out of darkness and into the light by allowing all my hidden sin to be exposed. Based on clear teaching from God’s Word, I determined to be totally open and honest with my wife about my hidden failure. Trembling, I went to her and shared the details of my sin. Never did I imagine the incredible fruit that would come from that decision!
Today, my life and my family’s life have been totally changed. I now have the power to be the man of God I was created to be. I can lead my wife and family, share openly, and speak with confidence to others. My wife Jenny and I are closer than ever before. We function as a team, and she finds great fulfillment serving alongside me. I adore her and cherish her more than I ever imagined possible.
I’d like to share with you what I believe is the secret to overcoming hidden failure. It is a difficult road to travel, but is well worth it in the end—as my own testimony confirms. God has allowed my wife and I to share our testimony with hundreds of people this year. It is a delight to see the change that comes about in lives of others as they learn the power of openness and brokenness.
The Power of Openness
True openness is a commitment to 100% honesty in all areas. It is a commitment to not misrepresent our past or present. In my own life, I had been open about my struggles with various people, but no one ever knew the full extent of what I was struggling with. True freedom did not come until I was completely transparent with the Lord and those whom I had offended about the full extent of my struggle.
Psalm 51:6 says, “Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.” God desires that we live in a way that is completely consistent with His Word. When we hide our sin from God or others, we are guilty of hypocrisy because we are misrepresenting who we really are. Therefore, the first step to true freedom is learning to be open about our sin—not that we justify it—but that we take full responsibility for what we have done.
Any benefit that we glean from hiding our sin is temporary, for there will come a time, either here on earth or before the judgment seat of Christ, when our sin will be “shouted from the housetops” and we will be exposed for who we really are. (See Mark 3:22, Luke 12:3, and II Corinthians 5:10.) We need to take the opportunities today to humble ourselves, confess our sins, and seek to restore our relationships. If we think that we can live in hiding and bondage without damaging our relationships, we are deceived. Pride is the motivation for hiding our sin, but humility enables us to expose it.
The Need to Come Clean
Coming clean from hidden sin is making complete and thorough confession to God and those whom we have wronged. We must learn to fear and love the Lord more than we fear man, or we will never experience the rewards of true openness.
Shortly after I came clean with my wife about my hidden failure, an incident occurred which underscores the importance of this concept. In dealing with the grief over my sin, Jenny had confided with several of her close girlfriends about what we were going through. After overhearing a phone call between Jenny and one of her friends, I asked Jenny to never again talk about our situation with her friends. I told her that this was between me, my family, and God, and that I would really rather that she not talk with others about it.
No sooner had I said this, than I was instantly convicted in my heart. I wrestled with the Lord about it for a while before coming back to my wife and saying, “Jenny, if my being free means that we need to publish it in the paper tomorrow, I’m willing to make that sacrifice! From now on, if you need to talk to your friends about what we are going through, I want you to feel total freedom to do so.”
The Power of Brokenness
While openness is important, it is not the answer by itself. Since the Lord gave me freedom in this area, my wife and I have counseled many families about moral purity. We have meet numerous men who have come to a point of openness with their wives and family members about their sin, but they have not found freedom. This happens because while they are open about their sin, they are not truly broken in repentance over it.
Freedom is the result of God’s grace working in us to enable us to overcome the pull of our lower nature. God’s grace is only poured out on those who are broken over their sin. This is why James wrote, “He giveth more grace. Wherefore He saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:6). In my own life, brokenness came progressively as the Lord led me to humble myself in several key areas.
Immediately after coming clean with my wife, I spent a period of time fasting, crying out for the Lord’s deliverance from the bondage I was under. Fasting is one of the key ways listed in Scripture to humble ourselves before the Lord. “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free…”(Isaiah 58:6). After humbling myself in this way for almost a week, God gave me a peace that He had delivered me from my bondage.
The Wide-Spread Effects of Sin
Shortly after this, the Lord led me to go to my children and share with them what I had hidden for so long. Since I knew that the mistakes in my life may have allowed Satan to attack my children in ways that I was unaware of, I felt a real need to be open with them about what I had struggled with.
I went to each of my children and asked them to tell me how my sin had affected them. I was shocked to discover that many of my children were struggling with lustful dreams. A few of them were involved in other lustful activities. It was difficult to draw this out of them at first, but with careful prodding and true openness about my own sin, my children began to share with me their deepest struggles.
Before I came clean with my wife about my hidden failure, she often had dreams about me being involved in an affair with another woman. She would ask me if there was anything I was struggling with that I had not shared with her. Each time I denied that I was struggling at all. After God released me from the bondage of my sin, my wife ceased having dreams of this kind.
It was through experiences like this that the Lord began to show me the true consequences of my sin. I had once believed that I was the only one affected by my sin; now I saw clearly that my hidden failure had allowed the Enemy free reign to torment my wife and children.
After confessing my sin to my wife and children, the Lord led me to clear my conscience with my parents about the matter. Later on, He led me to do the same with my church and employees. Many people were shocked and openly expressed amazement to me. I was deeply humbled through these experiences. God used them to reveal to me the depth of my sin.
When a person is truly broken, they agree with Scripture that there is nothing good in themselves. Brokenness is being willing to be known for who we really are. There are no pretenses, masks, and false fronts. A broken person only wants to be real. They realize there is great danger in not being real. A broken person is not concerned about who knows and who doesn’t know. They understand that the embarrassment or humiliation they feel because a certain person or people might know, is worth the pain for it brings further death to their pride and therefore greater brokenness. “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit” (Psalm 34:18, NKJV).
—by Paul Speed, with John Long
Used with permission.