Robert Wurtz II
“The folly of man perverteth his way, And against Jehovah is his heart wroth.” (Proverbs 19:3 YLT)
“When a man’s folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the LORD.” (Proverbs 19:3 ESV)
I have quoted Proverbs 19:3 in two translations to try and capture what God has revealed to us. When a person foolishly fabricates their own ruin, instead of getting angry at themselves, they shift the blame to others, and in this case, God Himself. Imagine the madness of a person who has turned the grace of God into lasciviousness, cast off the instruction, providence, and grace through which He had planned the person’s good, and then they turn around and rage against God for what they did to themselves. What a sobering and frightful truth to ponder.
We know that it is impossible to improve upon God’s will revealed in His holy word. Any attempt to do something other than what is written is sure to bring some kind of retribution either in this life or the life to come. This is why confession of sin is so important. A person must acknowledge that God’s way is the right way or else they risk total ruin. Confession says that I have sinned against God and have brought destruction to myself and whoever else is involved. The Greek word for “confess” in 1 John 1:9 is homologeo and it means to say the same thing as or after.
People who refuse to confess their sins are on the road to total disaster. Whether they say it openly or not, they are affirming to God and man that “I am right and God is wrong.” It usually starts off as a secretive attitude and builds up over time to open rebellion. Peer pressure keeps most people from being too open about their sin for a while — even if in their heart they think the behavior is okay. In the modern idiom, we say that they “came out of the closet” — meaning that they are now doing openly what they once only dared to do privately.
The Progression of Deception
I have observed in life that there is a self-deceiving attitude among people who think that so long as nobody knows about their secret sins that it’s the same as if those sins never happened. They put on a smile and act confidently in front of people who they know would disapprove of their behavior. The show is for the people they want (or need) to maintain credibility. The person feels compelled to tighten their standards around certain people who won’t approve of the sin they are committing. The average person (if you will) would never know that they were scheming and covering gross sin.
The more that people hide in their sins the more resentful they become of people who desire to live holy. They simply get tired of having to hide and pretend. Sort of like a fugitive feels towards a police officer when they see one. This resentment leads to full-blown hatred and is a dreadful part of the process of deception. Even though the easiest people to deceive are the people who love them the most (because loved ones always put the best construction on the behaviors of the objects of their love), not everyone is fooled. When the non-fooled speak out, conflicts and offenses usually occur.
“Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!” (Sir Walter Scott, 1808)
Confession of sin helps us keep our heart right and humble before God. When we are more concerned about peoples’ opinion than God’s, we stop confessing and start concealing. This brings grave danger. The strategy is that people can more or less control what family, friends, and the general public thinks about them if they can control what those people know about them. What happens? When they sin, they refuse to confess it — even if it is widely known. This behavior is similar to what Paul referred to when he wrote to Timothy that some people’s good deeds go before them to judgment and their sins follow after them (1 Timothy 5:24). In other words, they laud their good deeds and conceal their sinful ones. This is a fast track to total self-deception.
“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13 ESV)
Confession is the key that unlocks forgiveness (1 John 1:9). People can get furious when they can no longer conceal the sins they should have openly confessed. Like the religious leaders who Jesus confronted, they get even angrier when God calls the behavior hypocrisy. When we refuse to confess our sins we live in constant fear of exposure. When we confess and forsake our sins we obtain mercy.
Jesus spoke of the Pharisees who appeared as whitewashed tombs. This is one of the reasons why they hated Jesus. They were exposed. What was happening? The Pharisees were hypocrites because they judged other people knowing that they had done or were doing the same type of things they condemned others for. Paul addressed this in Romans 2:1-11, reminding us that all we are doing when we judge others while doing similar sins is stockpiling (treasuring up) wrath against us for the day of judgment. “And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?” (Romans 2:3 KJV)
Using Technology to Shift Blame and Conceal Sin
If a person can keep their sin and folly concealed well enough, they can shift the blame to someone else. Sometimes there is an elaborate scheme to shift blame. For example, for many years modern technology has enabled smart people to “cover their tracks” when communicating electronically. They can make calls and send text messages using apps that change the phone number. How clever! I’m reminded of Solomon’s words, “See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.” (Ecclesiastes 7:29)
Imagine this scenario for a moment. A drug dealer has two phones, one regular, and one secret. He uses the secret phone to solicit drugs to a recovering drug addict with an anonymous call or an app that generates a random phone number. The drug addict, in the throes of temptation, calls the drug dealer back on his regular phone because he doesn’t know the number of the secret phone. What happens? When the drug dealer is confronted he tells the authorities to look at the phone records. Based on the phone records alone, it appears that the addict was back to their old ways and pursuing the dealer. This scheme worked well until the drug dealer was caught using his secret phone to solicit drug deals. The whole scheme was revealed and it changed public opinion.
Generally, people are fooled by schemes for a while. The public ends up pointing fingers at the wrong people. As the schemer gets better at scheming, they are happy that they have found a way to commit evil with impunity. Not so fast. God is not fooled. Little do they know that they are destroying themselves and inviting the worst form of deception, self-deception.
When confession is rejected and deception is embraced, eventually the process of sowing and reaping begins. Sin is foolishness and it always takes a person farther than they intended to go. Ministries are lost. Lives are wrecked. Marriages are destroyed. When a man’s folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the LORD.” (Proverbs 19:3) Rather than confess that they have sinned against God, they double down on their attitude and rage against Him and everyone who agrees with Him. My prayer is that when any of us sin we humble ourselves and confess that sin to God without pointing fingers or making excuses. We may well prevent our own ruin and the dreadful notion that we would rage against God.