My family and I love to watch baking competitions on television. Though I am not a baker myself, I have learned a fundamental truth about baking: buttercream covers up a multitude of sins. See, in every competition; something inevitably goes awry.
The brownies don’t turn out, or the cake becomes cracked and dry. To hide these problems, the baker often results to slapping mounds of buttercream onto his or her bake. The logic is simple: if the judges cannot see the problem, it doesn’t exist.
We’ve all heard the proverb “out of sight, out of mind.” Its meaning is obvious. Whether it be a cracked and dry cake or the sweeping of a mess under a rug, we pretend that hiding a problem from view makes the issue go away. It’s an age-old strategy. Deep down, however, we know this is a lie.
Many people attempt to treat sin this way. They believe that sin can be explained away or hidden through twists of logic and fancy justifications. Yet just like the cracked cake in baking competitions, when we cover up our sin, we fail to address the problems at hand.
What is more, covering up our sin leaves us suffering under the negative consequences that linger in our lives. Despite what we may tell ourselves, freedom remains elusive.
Given this, how are we to address the problem of sin in our lives?
The Problem: Covering Up Sin
Like it or not, sin creates a separation between the Lord and us. This separation doesn’t exist because God has rejected us or because God’s love has been removed from our lives.
Instead, sin twists our lives away from God, crushing us under a burden that God never intended us to carry. Through sin, we drive ourselves away from the God who continually journeys toward us.
The account of Adam and Eve is a prime example of this. Having disobeyed the one rule in Eden, Adam and Eve slink away in shame and guilt. Instead of “becoming like God” (Genesis 3:5), as they had been promised, eating the forbidden fruit produces a sense of condemnation upon the pair.
Everything changes for Adam and Eve; their view of themselves, each other, and the God who made them gets all twisted around.
Furthermore, when the two hear God walking towards them, they flee into the trees. They cover themselves with fig leaves and attempt to hide from the Lord. Out of sight, out of mind.
Does this work? No! For Adam and Eve, the consequence of sin remains. Not only did sin cause a separation from the Lord, sin destroyed their spiritual vitality by miring the two with feelings of guilt, shame, and self-rejection. King David echoes this reality in Psalm 32.
David writes, “When I kept silent my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. …my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer” (32:4). David speaks honestly about how covering up his sin only led him into a deeper experience of condemnation.
Even if we attempt to cover up our sin, we still believe we must hide from God’s presence. Whether we think that God is angry at us or that we no longer deserve God’s love, the existence of covered-up sin becomes a taxing weight upon our spiritual lives. We fear being found out and exposed for our transgressions.
Have you ever experienced this reality? Have you ever felt weighed down by sin in your life? If so, you will recognize how such feeling eats away at you and dampens your spirit.
The painful truth that we all know is that covering up our sin doesn’t make it go away. No amount of work, effort, or self-justification can free us from a spiritual weight that hangs heavy upon us. We need a deeper solution.
The Solution: Covering Sin
Instead of covering up our sin, which keeps us trapped in a cycle of shame and condemnation, spiritual freedom is found only when our sins are “covered.”
Again, David articulates this truth in Psalm 32. David writes, “Blessed is the person whose transgressions are forgiven, and whose sins are covered” (32:1).
The difference between covering up our sin, and having our sin covered by the merciful love of God is extensive. When sin is covered, it is removed forever. We are forgiven and free.
The covering of sin is an important image, speaking specifically to forgiveness by way of sacrifice. We see this occur throughout the Old Testament.
At the start of the Exodus, for example, the Israelites sprinkled blood on the doorposts of their houses as a symbol that they were covered by the mercy of God (Exodus 12:7). Similarly, before Moses receives the commandments, he sprinkles blood upon the people (Exodus 24:8).
The blood obtained through animal sacrifice was called “the blood of the covenant.” The blood of the covenant reaffirmed the covenant relationship between Israel and the Lord and brought total forgiveness of sin to the people.
Jesus himself uses the language of the blood of the covenant to refer to his own sacrifice on the cross. During the Last Supper, Jesus takes a cup of wine, blesses it, and hands it to the disciples saying, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for you” (Matthew 26:28).
Christ’s death on the cross is the definitive place of forgiveness as the blood of Christ “covers” sin. Scripture testifies that those who follow Christ have been sprinkled with his blood (1 Peter 1:2).
On the cross, our sin was covered by a divine power that rendered sin, and all its negative and soul-crushing effects null and void. This is the gospel.
The Invitation: Uncovering Ourselves
What, then, are we to do if we struggle with the negative effect of sin in our lives? The answer is relatively simple: we uncover ourselves. If we wish to be covered by Christ’s sacrifice, we need to uncover the reality of our need for forgiveness.
We cannot explain sin away nor attempt to justify ourselves by twists of logic or self-deluded lies. After wrestling with the negative effect of his sin, David experiences forgiveness only when he acknowledged his sin and refused to cover up his iniquity.
David writes, “I said, ‘I will confess to my transgression to the Lord, and forgave the guilt of my sin’” (Psalm 32:5). David was honest with the Lord about his sin and his need for forgiveness.
Christ promises that he came not to condemn the world but to save it (John 3:17). Thus, uncovering our sin is met by loving mercy, not wrath-filled rebuke.
Yes, confession can feel hard and scary, yet Scripture promises that “if you confess your sins before God, God is faithful and just to forgive you of your sins and purify you of all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Jesus comes not to condemn or reject, but to save, forgive and heal.
Are you covering up your sin or uncovering it? That is, are you sweeping under the rug all the things that spiritually weigh you down, or are you bringing these sins before the one who has shown himself capable of covering them and releasing you from them?
Despite the sin you may be carrying, if you let him, Jesus will offer you the forgiveness you are looking for. You will find yourselves unburdened by every tiny thing you have tried to cover up.
And if you ever doubt this truth, just look to the cross. Jesus’ death on the cross is the ultimate sign that his promise is real and forgiveness can be found.
For further reading:
5 Things Christians Label as ‘Sin’ That Aren’t Actually Sinful
What Is Sin? Bible Meaning and How to Overcome
How Does Sin So Easily Entangle Us?
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/FG Trade Latin
The Reverend Dr. Kyle Norman is the Rector of St. Paul’s Cathedral, located in Kamloops BC, Canada. He holds a doctorate in Spiritual formation and is a sought-after writer, speaker, and retreat leader. His writing can be found at Christianity.com, crosswalk.com, ibelieve.com, Renovare Canada, and many others. He also maintains his own blog revkylenorman.ca. He has 20 years of pastoral experience, and his ministry focuses on helping people overcome times of spiritual discouragement.