Sin is poisonous and can cause shame that leads to anxiety. The longer we hide sin, the harder it becomes to heal from it and experience peace. In this message, we learn how important it is to reveal what’s hidden so we can experience healing in the light.
What's up, guys? Welcome, everybody joining us online and live and all of the other Porchlocations. That's right. If you didn't just hear, we are livestreaming from Houston, Texas, which is a first for us. Porch Houston, good to be back. How fun. People together. My extra extrovertedness has missed seeing people, so it is fun to get to be down here with you guys.
We are continuing a series called Therapy. If this is your first week with us, you can check out The Porch app, and you can find all of the different messages we've covered so far as we've gone through four different therapy sessions, if you will. If ever there was a time where people needed to go to therapy, we are there, because we have all been experiencing a lot of turbulence in life.
Things were already bad before that. Anxiety was at record highs. Our generation, or the generation of young adults out right now, has higher levels of anxiety than any other group of people in the country. In fact, studies have shown that a psychiatric ward patient in the 1950s had the same amount of stress and anxiety as the average young adult today.
People are anxious, and we were anxious before COVID. Mental health has been a huge issue, and as we've talked about if you've been with us, it's not always an issue the church covers a lot of. We're not done with this series, and we're just continuing it tonight. We're going to launch into, I think, a tremendously crucial topic, especially for this season.
It's fun to be back in Houston. I'm from Houston originally. I'm an Astros fan until I die, even though they did what they did. I'm a little bit sick, but it is not COVID. I've had two tests. It is not positive. I'm the only person in America with a bacterial sinus infection right now, apparently.
Let me start with this to frame up where we're going for tonight. When I was in college, I had a buddy of mine who spent some time… He did what you do when you're in college and you have a free day. He decided he was going to go out to this lake that was nearby the campus we went to. Any Aggies in the room here? Yeah. So, Lake Bryan. He goes out. He's going to go hang, read books, do what you do when you're in college.
He goes out, spends the day reading, chilling in a hammock, just kind of having the day out there, and at some point, he realizes he needs to go to the bathroom. There weren't any bathrooms around. (This is going somewhere, by the way.) He had to go not #1 but #2, so he does what guys (ladies, you should know this) will do in that situation. You go to the woods, take care of business, use some leaves. Everything is fine. It's all great.
He does so, goes back, reads his book. It's a great afternoon. He jumps in the water. It's all good and fine. He goes back home that night and falls asleep. In the middle of the night, he wakes up, and he is covered in a poison oak rash in a very unfortunate location. It was like he had a poison oak diaper rash that was consuming his body. This was, basically, a roommate of mine, and I got to see all the experience that was for the next month.
Here's what began happening. If you don't know this about poison ivy or poison oak, in order for a rash to heal, it has to be out in the light. That's a very difficult place to consistently get exposed to the light. So, for the next month, he did the same thing. He'd go to class. He'd sit in his chair and kind of squirm in tremendous pain. Then he'd go back home, and he would take an oatmeal bath. I don't know why you take oatmeal baths, but apparently, oatmeal is not just for breakfast anymore. It works for poison oak.
But this is what he would do, because he had to get it exposed to the light. Because it was difficult to bring out into the light, it delayed healing of it taking place. It was there for weeks. I repeat: weeks. I learned through that incident an important principle as it relates to poison oak that translates into what the Scripture we're going to look at tonight teaches: the longer something is kept in the dark, it delays it from healing.
The same is true in our lives. The longer we keep things in hiding, in the dark, and don't bring other people in and open up about where we are struggling, we delay experiencing healing in our lives. As I've said, this is a really important topic, because as a pastor… It probably goes without saying. All of us have seen it. There have been spikes in all types of alcohol sales. It's through the roof. Prescription drug addiction is through the roof. Sexual sin and pornography are through the roof.
We all came in here, and everybody looks pretty, and they look like somebody it would be fun to go hang out with, but all of us came in with stuff in our lives that if we are not intentional to bring into the light, we will not experience healing. It's a problem that's not going away. It's only going to get worse, and it brings with it certain things.
So, tonight, we're going to look at four ideas as it relates to healing. As I've said, this series is about therapy. My wife is a counselor, and one of the things they will suggest, if you go see any different counselor, is you have to bring things forward. You have to be in relationship with other people where you can share what's actually going on. If not, it's a recipe for anxiety, it's a recipe for depression, and it is a recipe that ends in addiction.
Tonight, we're going to look at one of the principles behind why that is and cover four different ideas. I'm just going to give you the first one, and I'll show you the Scripture it comes from. You may not know this: shame brings anxiety. If you're carrying shame from an eating disorder in here, if you're carrying shame from a same-sex attraction you've never told anybody about, an abortion that's a part of your past you've never told anybody about (or at least nobody recently), from sexual sin in your own life or from anything, it will bring with it anxiety, every time.
Here's how we know this. This comes straight out of Genesis, chapters 2 and 3. Basically, if you're not familiar with Genesis, it's the story of where everything originated from. God creates the world. Everything is perfect. Adam and Eve are the only two people on the planet. They're the crown of God's creation. God performs a wedding ceremony with just Adam and Eve. Adam looks at her and sings the very first version of "Your Body is a Wonderland." He's like, "This naked girl is for me," and they're naked without shame, the Bible says.
It says this: "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed." Just two lovebirds running around in the garden of delight, which is what the word Eden means, and they experienced no shame. Then God says, "There's one command during this time." You're probably familiar with it.
What was the one command? "You can't eat from this one tree. Everything else is fair game. Just don't eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil." That was the entire rule book. That was the entire Bible. The entire Bible could have fit on a fortune cookie. That was it. "Just don't eat from that one tree." Like five minutes go by, and Adam and Eve eat from the tree, and all of a sudden, sin enters the world, and with it came shame, and with it came anxiety.
We're told that after eating it their eyes were opened, and Adam and Eve ran into, essentially, the forest, and they ran from God. Previously, when they heard God coming, they ran toward him. Now they run from him, because they were afraid, because shame brings anxiety. The more you and I hold on to and hide things, we're going to bring more and more anxiety into our lives. Am I saying if you have anxiety it's because you're hiding something? No. I'm saying if you're hiding something, you're going to bring anxiety into your life.
It says this in Genesis 3:10: "And he said, 'I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid…'" Man's first interaction with fear, with anxiety, is introduced. "…because I was naked, and I hid myself." "I was ashamed." Rather than bring their sin and what they had done to God, they ran from him and began to attempt to hide what they were ashamed of in their lives.
If Houston and most places around the country that are listening are anything like Dallas, we've all gotten used to these. Anybody know what this is? This is an N95 mask that I am pretty sure is a fake; nonetheless, it works to go into the store. Do you guys have mask mandates, where you have to wear one pretty much everywhere you go now? It's such a weird time. Anyway, we've all gotten used to wearing these.
The truth is most of us have been wearing masks our whole lives. You never told anybody about what happened to you. You experienced some sort of abuse. It wasn't your fault, and you never told anybody. You've been hiding. The tragedy is as long as you hide, God will not heal, and you're going to carry shame that you don't have to. They covered up with fig leaves. We hide today, and we hide behind our words. We hide behind not telling people the truth.
Anytime we do, the reality is God cannot heal what we won't reveal. That's the second idea. Shame brings anxiety, but God won't heal what we will not reveal. Proverbs 28:13 says, "Whoever conceals [or hides] their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy."
Solomon says, "Whoever hides or conceals their sin, what's going on, will not prosper." That sin is not going anywhere. If anything, it's only going to get worse. "But whoever confesses, brings it out into the open, telling someone…not just God but other people in their life…will experience healing." In other words, Solomon would say, anything you and I refuse to bring others into… I know it's all over this room. God is not angry at you.
You're embarrassed, and you think I'm talking to you, and I am talking to you. You're carrying shame for it, and you don't have to. The God who loves you says, "Anything you won't reveal I cannot heal, I will not heal," but he invites you. "It's possible. You can come out of hiding. You can experience freedom." You're thinking to yourself, "I'm not going to do this forever. When I get married, I'm going to stop looking at pornography. When I get married, I'm going to stop drinking so much. When I get married, I'm going to stop doing this."
Let me tell you the truth. That's not changing when you get married. That's changing when you stop hiding. Marriage doesn't make sin go away. If anything, it magnifies it. Anything that you say, "Nope! Not bringing this out," is something where, in effect, you say to God, "I'm not allowing access to this in my life." God will not heal what we are unwilling to reveal.
The third idea is that confession is the cure. By confession I mean telling someone other than God. All of us, I know everybody in here… You did it again. You slept together. You crossed the boundary with your boyfriend or your girlfriend that you promised you wouldn't do it again. You go home, and you lie your head on your pillow, and you say, "God, I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. Please forgive me." That type of confession…let me be abundantly clear…biblically, is worthless.
If you're a follower of Jesus and have confessed sin and trusted what Jesus has done… It says you and I are to bring our confession to other people inside of our lives. By worthless I don't mean it doesn't matter or it's not practical. I mean, functionally, it does not change your behavior. James says the way you and I experience healing from behavior in our lives is by confessing to another person.
He says this in James 5:16. He says confession is the cure. "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed." Here's what I love about James writing this verse. James just wrote, "Hey, do you want to experience healing in your life? Do you want to change? Do you want to stop? Here's the formula." He says, "Confess to another believer in your life. Have them pray for you. Bring it out into the open and express that to another person, and you'll experience supernatural healing."
Think about who's writing this. Do you guys know who James is? James is the baby brother of Jesus. Did you guys know that? Jesus had little baby brothers and sisters. He had siblings in his life. How rough would that be? You think your older sister, firstborn, is perfect? How would you like to follow Jesus, where every night you're sitting at the table with Mom who's like, "Why can't you be a little more like Jesus?" "Well, Mom, he's God." That can't be easy.
But James didn't just see his brother's perfect dinner table etiquette. He saw his brother give sight to the blind. He saw his brother do incredible, miraculous things. Lame people who couldn't walk their entire life… Jesus goes up. His big brother touches them. They can walk. He saw him give hearing back to people who had never been able to hear before, open the eyes of people to be able to see, allow people to speak or give the tongue back to the mute. James saw all of this take place.
He saw his brother supernaturally heal people, and then he writes this book we call James, and in it he says, "If you want to experience supernatural healing in your life, here's how: you have to bring other people in." It's not going away. Maybe there's a hurt from a parent. There's something that happened to you, and it wasn't your fault, but it's not going away unless you bring someone in, unless you bring it out in the open and share or, as James says, confess, and you'll experience the supernatural healing in your life, because confession is the cure. It's a part of the equation every single time.
One of the hardest lies you're going to have to get over right now is that if you bring it to your Life Bible Study group or you bring it to your Community Group or your small group, wherever you're at, the lie that you're thinking right now… "I can't share that. That's so embarrassing. What are they going to think about me? They're going to think I'm some messed-up pervert. 'I can't believe you would even do that. You're so messed up.'"
Let me tell you abundantly clear. Here's what they're going to think about you. Ready? You're going to bring that to them. They're a trusted believer in your life. They're going to think you're a lot like them only more honest. That's what they're going to think. As Christians, all of us… In order to get into the club, if you will, you have to acknowledge, "I'm not a perfect person. I need a Savior."
Part of the starting line of being a Christian is saying, "I don't have it all together. That's why I need Jesus. That's why I need a Savior." There's something messed up in the church, where it's like after you become a Christian, you can't be a Christian anymore or you have to pretend like you have it all together, when the criteria for getting in is being someone who says, "I don't have it all together."
Do you have people in your life where you can bring openly and honestly? Do you have a small group? Do people know what's going on? You don't have to share with everybody or right here on the stage every time, but other people in your life who know how you're doing. They know about your dating relationship. They know about where if Satan was going to take you out or you're tempted to drift back toward old ways or old habits. Do they know those things?
You will not experience healing unless it involves you revealing it to other people inside of your life. This changed my life in my early 20s. When I was 12 years old, I was on a bus to a church camp. We stopped at this hotel, and we got off. Everybody goes in the room. When you're 12, you're like, "Dude, look at this. They've got free soap in here. I'm taking it with me." It's just the whole amazing kid hotel moment.
I was in a room with a guy who threw on the TV, and he immediately went straight to pornography. I'd never seen pornography before. It was like, "I don't even know what to think about this." As a guy, all of the different wheels began to turn. I don't know how many minutes it lasted, but if I close my eyes or I think about it, I can see those images still. It takes a moment to see and a lifetime to get rid of.
That put me on a journey where for the next 10 years, I struggled with pornography in my life as a Christian. It wasn't something I was proud of. It wasn't something I wanted. It was something, honestly, I hated, but I was so afraid of what would happen if I actually told somebody that. Then, in my junior year of college, this guy who lived across the street busted in the door like he's Kramer on Seinfeld or something, and he says, "I don't want to do this anymore! This is hurting my faith." And he began to talk about his pornography.
He just said, "I need you to hold me accountable. I need you to know everything I'm looking at." It was the first time I'd ever seen anyone be that honest. He said, "Hey, will you pray for me? Will you hold me accountable? I want you to help me." So, of course I prayed for him, and in those moments, it was the first time I'd seen anybody be like that. I prayed, and I just said, "Before you go, you have to know that that's a part of my life. I don't want it to be that way."
That was a pivotal moment where, for years after that, we began to put software on both of our phones. Several other friends of ours who had all struggled with that began to see everything I was looking at on the Internet, and I could see everything that he was. Every time I was tempted or every time I looked at pornography again or masturbated again or did any of that again, I brought that to believers in my life and said, "Pray for me. I want you to know this."
Even at a thought level, before I ever even got there, I just said, "Here's what you need to know. I saw this billboard driving down the road today, and I've been thinking about it since. I may want to do something I don't want to do in my heart of hearts, but I kind of want to do it right now. Will you please pray for me? Hold me accountable and know that." It changed my life.
I know inside of this room it's not just pornography. It's prescription medication addiction. It's alcohol. It's cutting. Maybe it's a debt problem that's out of control. God is not angry at you. That's not why he's saying confess. He loves you so much he gave his life for you, and he doesn't want you to be owned and imprisoned. Maybe it's anxiety, and you're just not opening up with other people. You're afraid, like, "What are they going to think?" Maybe it's depression.
It's not always even a sin that we're hiding. It could be like one of those. Part of experiencing healing inside of our lives comes from bringing it into the light and opening up to other people around us. Hiding it will only bring shame. It always brings anxiety, but it doesn't have to. When I think about what God is going to do in the church and the opportunity the church has in the days ahead…
People ask about ministry, like, "What's going to happen when everything is back? Will it just go back to normal? Do you think churches will go back to normal? Will gatherings go back to normal?" I don't have a crystal ball. I don't know anything of exactly what's going to happen, but here's my hunch. The opportunity the church has in the days ahead has never been greater, it will never be greater, because people all over the country are hurting. They're isolated. They're angry. They're in conflict. They're experiencing division with one another.
Addiction rates are through the roof. Suicide is through the roof. Depression is through the roof. The church offers the only solutions to those problems, which first starts with a relationship with Jesus, and then it starts with walking with God's people once you're connected to God's Son and day by day living authentically and confessing sin with other people. So, my hunch is the brightest days of the church are ahead, because we offer a solution to so many of the problems that are going to plague and are plaguing society as much as they ever have before.
But if God is going to use you as a part of his body and in this way and in the mission he has all of us on, if you're a follower of Jesus, you have to get healthy, which means you have to open up. I'm not talking about if he's going to use you to go into ministry. I'm saying if you're a Christian, you're on the planet, you are breathing because God has a purpose for you: to know God and to make him known, but the degree to which he is going to use you will be limited to the degree to which you are willing to get things out in the open.
We have this handheld vacuum we keep in my kitchen, and it's one of those things… It's a Black & Decker. It's not the most impressive thing of all time. It gets the job done. You go around, and when you have little kids, your floors are constantly dirty, so there's dirt and Cheerios and Goldfish and stuff everywhere. All of my ladies in the house know that any mama out there… She has certain things.
This is one thing I've realized about women. They're okay with clutter everywhere, and then there will be this one type of clutter they're not okay with. For her, it could be a disgusting room. Got to have clean sheets. If you're not clean, do not come into this bed. The other thing with her is floors. It can be chaos everywhere, and then, hey, just want clean floors. So we keep this vacuum nearby to get anything that's caught up.
Every now and then, because it's a really small vacuum (there's a small spout at the front of it), there will be something that will get lodged inside of there. What happens whenever half of the vacuum is clogged up? It's operating at half capacity. It's not able to function or operate as well as it could because half of it is blocked. Do you know what's further interesting? Whenever a Goldfish gets stuck in there, it doesn't just block half of it; it also increases the likelihood that other things are going to get caught and blocked, further decreasing its effectiveness.
What does that have to do with you? Anytime you and I get something lodged in our spirit, in our soul, in our life, whether it's a sin or a hurt… Maybe it's something that happened to you. If you don't deal with it and get it out, you're not operating at 100 percent, and you won't be. Just like in that vacuum illustration… As long as it's there, it's going to block other things that are there. As long as you never deal with that hurt from your dad, you're going to be more sensitive and more quickly prone to get hurt from other people.
You're going to pick up things that maybe in neutral you wouldn't pick up, but you're going to pick them up. As long as you're addicted to pornography, you're going to walk around, and every girl you see or every guy you see, you're going to begin to think through what they would look like naked, because there's something blocking there. That problem is not going away. If anything, it is getting worse, and you are not going to operate and experience all that God wants for you.
I don't know what that looks like for you tonight to confess to another believer in your life, but I know that those who are in the room who are listening, who are thinking that I'm talking to you, you know there's someone in your life you need to bring that forward to. Maybe it's a volunteer here. Maybe it's a Life Bible Study here. Maybe it's a Community Group for wherever you're listening. This is why we hammer being connected and being known and having relationships with other people, because what you hide will not heal.
When I was 22, I went to the dentist for the very first time. It was an interesting experience. I'd never been before. I tell this story, and people are like, "How did your mom…? What, did your parents not love you?" I think I had straight teeth. She was like, "Hey, get back in the game. You'll be fine." When I was 22, I got dental insurance. I was like, "Oh man. This is exciting. I got dental insurance. I'm going to go to the dentist. This is going to be amazing."
I go, and your first time at the dentist… It was like I relived the 7-year-old experience you probably had, where you're like, "Oh, dude, the chairs! They have suckers afterward." I'm experiencing all of that at 22. The dentist comes in. They do the x-rays, and he comes back and says, "I have good news. I have bad news." I said, "All right. Let's start with the good news." He says, "The good news is your teeth are relatively straight." Okay. "The bad news is you have 14 cavities." Yeah. I know. I was like, "Do I even have 14 teeth? What do you mean 14 cavities?"
He's like, "First off, you have 32 teeth. Second off, there are three surfaces of your tooth, so you can actually get three cavities on that single tooth," which I had done. He begins to go through a diagnostic list of questions, like, "What are you doing? Are you drinking a lot of soda? What's your diet like? How often are you brushing your teeth? Are you sleeping with candy in your mouth?" to find out what was causing this problem inside of my mouth. Of course, I wasn't doing that. I just didn't like to floss.
Point being, that day, I did something that over and over I feel like I've seen God have me do in life, and I've seen the power of when we do something similar as it relates to our spiritual life and our spiritual health. That day, I opened up my mouth and allowed somebody to look in and see things that I may not have seen, and when they identified or they saw something that may be harmful, that may be hurting, that may be leading to further brokenness down the road, they began to say, "Hey, you need to make some changes as it relates to your dental health."
In the same way, that's the exact idea the Bible says you and I are to do inside of our lives, where we open up our lives to other people (not our mouths but our lives) and we allow people to speak into the things we're doing, to know where we're hurting ourselves, maybe, to know where we're struggling, where we're tempted, where we're just believing a lie. If you do, you will begin to experience healing inside of your life.
God has invited you. "I don't want you to live the rest of your days having this own you. How long are you going to carry this?" And you keep pushing it off, saying, "I'll deal with it later. I'll deal with it later." The day you'll deal with it is the day you decide, "I'm going to bring it into the light." Why would any of us waste another moment believing the lie of "One last time." It never works. It never happens. The one last time happens when you and I choose, "I don't care what anyone thinks. I'm bringing it out into the open." You'll begin to experience healing.
If you're a follower of Jesus, there's nothing that can separate you from God's love. You will spend eternity with him forever. He has invited you to experience greater and greater freedom on this earth, but that will involve you and me opening up our lives to other people and letting them speak into, doing what Hebrews, chapter 3, says: "Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort [call out] one another every day, as long as it is called 'today,' that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin."
Do you want to experience the remedy for spiritual heart disease? It involves having other people in your life who can call you out where you need to be called out. The word exhort is such a churchy word. It just means, "I'm going to call you to be everything that God wants you to be, everything that you in your heart of hearts want to be. I need you to lock arms with me, and I'm not letting go of you, and you're not letting go of me, and we're going to walk through life like this together."
If you don't have that, you're not going to experience the abundant life God wants for you. It's not coming from some church program where you sign up for this class. It comes from having real relationships with people who, like you, are trying to follow Jesus. We need one another. You're not going to experience healing. You're not going to be the husband you want to be. You're not going to be the wife you want to be.
You're not ready to get married if you don't have that, because you have some stuff you have to deal with. God already paid for it and dealt with the consequence ultimately on the cross for that, but tonight and today and every day is a day where, as believers, we go to war through opening up our mouth and saying, "This is where I'm struggling. I need you to know this." When we do, healing happens. Or you can just keep hiding. Let me pray.
Father, I pray for every person in this room who has walked through a difficult last six months. Maybe they've lost their job or they've lost somebody they love or they're just experiencing anger and hurt and bitterness and confusion and all of the emotions that all of us have felt. In the midst of all of that pain, they turned to something to distract them or to help them cope, and it is something that is owning and continuing to own.
Maybe it was an eating disorder. Maybe it was an old relationship they had no business being in. Maybe it was a bottle of alcohol or a bowl of weed or whatever it was, and they keep feeding that and feeding that, and they're not opening up to anybody. I pray that you, right now, would pierce through their heart.
Give them the courage to follow you and to open up honestly and walk in the light with other people. When they do, you'll meet them there, and healing will rush in. Just like you rushed toward Adam and Eve to cover their sin, to call them out of hiding, that that would happen for friends all over this room. Jesus paid for all of it on the cross, and we're not defined by anything other than our faith in him and what he did on that cross.
I thank you for Porch Houston where the brightest and best days in your church are ahead because of the men and women in this room who radically go all in with you and follow you with recklessness because they respond to the incredible love you have recklessly poured out for all of us. We worship you now in song, amen.