Have you ever thought to yourself, "What's the big deal? No one will ever know." Or maybe you have been with some friends and as someone was having second thoughts about a questionable activity the ring-leader snapped, "Shh! No one is going to find out anyway. Just keep quiet!" Most of us have thought this, heard this, or maybe even said this ourselves... but is it true? Will anyone ever know? We might be able to keep secrets from each other, but can people keep secrets from God?
What do you always see on the highway when the speed limit is 65mph, everyone is going 75mph and a police officer is parked a half-mile up on the side of the road with a radar gun? Break lights. Why? Because the drivers know that the authorities are watching. Every car knows that the only way to get a speeding ticket is to get caught, and nobody wants to get caught. The break lights come on because they are hoping that the police lights won't.
Or consider a little child who knows that there just so happens to be a chocolate cake on the kitchen counter in their home. They also happen to know that mommy likes to lay down and rest for a small nap in the afternoon. What might be coming into the child's mind? A plan: "Operation Sticky Fingers." But would the child ever consider doing this while one of their parents were washing dishes or cooking dinner? Of course not. Why? Because they know that if they went for the cake they would be caught red-handed. The eyes of their parents would be on them, their actions would be in full view of their authority.
These simple deductions are easy for us to render; the solutions are obvious. When we know our actions are in plain view of our authority we always respond accordingly. And yet it is so easy to forget this basic truth when it comes to God. We like to think that there are parts of our lives that God sees and others parts where God is on lunch-break, or on vacation. We often think that God is watching only during certain religious functions, or at certain geographical locations like church, or grandma's house. For instance, some of us would never think of wearing Friday night's date outfit to Sunday morning's church service, or dropping the punch-line from the joke we told our coworkers this week in front of the whole congregation. Likewise, many of us would never want this week's internet searches to be broadcast publicly on the projector screen. Why is that? Because our lives are riddled with duplicities. We often change our behavior before men, in order to please them and avoid trouble, but we seem to have this wild idea that God doesn't see whats going on in our lives behind closed doors, that somehow God can't see into our heart. It is common to think of obedience to God much like the police officer and radar gun, we are happy to change our exterior behavior for a moment as we pass by, but as soon as we are out of his view we return to 'business as usual'.
Now is a good time to be wondering, "How much of my life does God see?" Fortunately we can do more than just wonder, the Bible gives us the answer. For instance, Hebrews 4:13 reads, "No creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account." Or consider what David wrote in Psalm 139:4, "Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether." And Jeremiah 17:10 records God speaking to the prophet saying, "I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds." The Bible is clear. Our common phrase, "No one will ever know," is an empty lie.
God knows. God sees. God is fully aware. No one's life is hidden from his eyes.
The Other Half Of The Story
It is important to realize that God sees all of our life, even the really mundane and seemingly unimportant stuff. But grasping that God knows is only half of the story. We also need to ask, "How does God respond to what he sees?" Once again, the Bible gives us the answer: "…at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly" (Rom. 5:6). Don't miss this. Who did Jesus die for? The good guys? The people who were living really moral lives? The religious folk? No. He died for the ungodly. In other words, he died for you and me.
The lesson for us is simple: Our whole lives are lived before the God who sees into the very depths of every heart. External modifications don't blind his eyes from the reality of who we are on the inside. Every thought, every motive, every feeling, every desire, every word, every action; God sees it all. As Ephesians 1:4 says, "…he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him." That last phrase is key, "before him." In other words, we should live our whole lives under the reality that God is in the room. If we slow down for police officers to avoid speeding tickets, how much more should we strive by faith to walk obediently before the King of Kings? Remembering the truth that God is in the room, that he is in the car, that he is aware of our thoughts and actions will reshape the way we live.
Yet we cannot read only half of the story and assume we understand it's meaning. We need the whole story; we need the truth of the gospel. God sees our sinful hearts, he knows the depths of our being, and yet he has acted in love through Jesus Christ to save us from a life defined by sin and hopelessness. A simple phrase that can help in remembering the whole story is this: Through faith in Christ I am both fully known, and fully loved by God. This phrase captures the essence of the whole story, rather than leaving us in fear and anxiety under the watching eye of a tyrannical god who doesn't exist. God sees, God knows, God is fully aware… and yet he has offered mercy to anyone who will believe in the work of his Son.
Everyone's life is lived, "before him." All our deeds are done in the full view of God. If this truth brings to mind all kinds of sins and failures 'done in secret' I want to encourage you to pray. Confess your sin, and believe in Christ. Jesus' cross is the cross of God's mercy for ungodly people like you and I. Jesus only died for sinners. Confess, repent, and believe.
A Closing Remark
**Although I have spent this entire article pointing out the reality that God is fully aware of our sin, I wanted to at least make mention of the opposite reality as well. God doesn't only see our sin, he also sees our obedience. He sees us when we are tempted and struggling, and by faith cling to him and persevere. God isn't just in the room when you are failing, he is in the room when you are having victory. God sees it all, both the good and the bad, and he smiles over the moments of victory that Christ is winning in the hearts of his people.**