By Clarence L. Haynes Jr., Crosswalk.com
For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. – Luke 8:17
We live in a world with secret meetings, back door operations, and under-the-table deals. These are often performed out of the public eye with the hopes of never being discovered. If it’s in the dark no one sees and you can get away with it, or at least you think you can.
However, things done in the dark are not always bad things. Some people choose to do really good things for people with no desire for recognition or notoriety. Regardless of the actions, whether good or bad, it brings to mind the question: does God really see and hear what’s ‘done in the dark?’
The answer to this question will actually reveal God’s love, God’s justice, and God’s system of recognition. I don’t know if you ever saw it this way before but if you stay with me as we explore this topic.
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What Does 'Nothing Concealed Will Not Be Known' Mean?
To get a full understanding of this verse, I think it helps to read the verse before.
No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. – Luke 8:16-17
When you see these two verses together you begin to understand the purpose of light and the meaning of the phrase nothing concealed will not be known. One of the purposes of light is to expose what is going on in the dark. In John’s gospel, he also reminds us of this:
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. – John 3:19-21
There are two types of people. Those who embrace the light and run towards it and those who reject the light and run away from it. What Luke and John are telling us is that whether your deeds are good or evil, light will expose them.
The interesting thing about this exposure, however, is you don’t know when it will happen. Sometimes the truth about a person comes out after they have died; and if the truth is not good the world can see it as tarnishing a person’s legacy. In reality, it is Scripture being fulfilled—and a reminder that God does see and hear what’s done in the dark.
What this verse really is, then, is a call that you and I should live a life filled with integrity and character, whether you are in the light or not. As Peter puts it:
Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. – 2 Peter 2:12
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Is 'What's Done in the Dark' In the Bible?
Luke 12:2-3 brings another take on this idea of what is done in the dark. The actual verse doesn’t say “what’s done in the dark,” but it goes even further. Consider these verses:
There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs. – Luke 12:2-3
Notice the context changes to not just what you do in the dark but even to what you say. Nothing escapes God’s eyes or ears. He really does see and hear what is done in the dark.
However, I want to also give an additional context here to make the point even clearer. Consider this verse:
Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. – Luke 12:1
The Pharisees had a big problem: they were hypocrites. This word in the Greek means an actor or someone who is playing a role. The Pharisees looked the part when the cameras were rolling and the microphones were on, but once the cameras were off they were different people ‘in the dark.’
Let me assure you, God has no desire for you to live a life of hypocrisy—and that is why Jesus warned the disciples. He was telling them if you try to live a life of hypocrisy, eventually, it will be exposed. Think of the many who have fallen because they allowed something to dwell in the dark that they tried to hide, but eventually came out.
This is not to be judgmental, but the reason deeds in the dark can be so damaging is because it ends up hurting the cause of Christ and the message of the gospel. The unfortunate truth is that once you have hurt or tarnished your reputation, though God can and will forgive, sometimes it’s not that easy to get your reputation back—and some never do.
If you are struggling, or there are some things ‘in the dark’ in your life, do everything you can to remove them now...because eventually they will come out.
Your good name and reputation are worth it.
A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold. – Proverbs 22:1
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3 Reasons This Promise Is Reassuring
God seeing and hearing the deeds in the dark is actually a good thing. Here are three reasons why.
1. Repentance (God’s love) – When God exposes sin it is important to realize that he is not trying to embarrass or to bring shame. He is trying to produce correction that leads to repentance.
Think of it in this manner. God loves you so much that he would rather expose your sin than to allow you to stay in it. The goal is to bring you to a place of repentance and if it means that he must expose it, he will—because he loves you.
He cares about your personal relationship with him and your eternal condition more than your temporary embarrassment.
2. Reckoning (God’s justice) – If a person chooses not to repent, there is eventually a day of reckoning coming. So many people can point to areas in this world where it seems like justice is not served or things are not fair. The fact that God really does see and hear what is done in the dark should be reassuring because it means no one really escapes justice. They may elude the arm of the law but they can never escape the eye of the Lord.
Every evil word or deed that has not been dealt with through the shed blood of Jesus, has a day of reckoning coming. By the way, this is not something to rejoice over but to weep over. When you consider the eternal destination of a person who must pay the full penalty of their sin it should hurt your heart. That alone should cause mercy and grace to swell up within you.
Remember none of us are deserving of the forgiveness and salvation we have received. You and I are simply products of God’s amazing grace.
3. Reward (God’s system of recognition) – There is another side to the fact that God sees and hears what is done in the dark. There is a phrase repeated three times in Matthew 6:
Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
The secret things spoken about in Matthew were giving, praying, and fasting. However, Matthew 6:1 refers to all your acts of righteousness; the good deeds and righteous living not done for the eyes of man so everyone can talk about how “wonderful” you are. Instead, good deeds and righteous living done in the dark where only God sees.
Jesus even mentions: when praying, to go in your closet and close the door. That’s about as in the dark as you can get (even though modern closets have lights in them, but I think you get the point.)
These secret things are done out of a heart or character that is properly motivated and properly aligned. When God sees and hears what is done in the dark, the good things, he rewards you. Some translations even say he rewards you openly. Not for your detriment, but for your honor.
Isn’t it amazing how God has a way of honoring those who don’t seek to be honored and humbling those who do?
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3 Ways to Protect Yourself from Dark Places
There is one last point that needs to be made. I want you to look at this verse in the New Living Translation but I want to add the first part of verse 18.
After we read Luke 8:17 (For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all), the next verse (Luke 8:18) begins with: So pay attention to how you hear.
That word “hear” can also be translated give heed or listen. Jesus is desiring that you pay close attention to what he just said. In doing this, my question then is: how do you avoid dark or secret deeds from taking root in your life? You already know that God sees and hears what’s done in the dark, so how do you make sure you are doing the right things? Here are three suggestions:
1. Accountability – Make sure there are people in your life who can ask you tough questions about what you do and say when no one is around. The goal of accountability is to keep you accountable—and it works. Do you ever notice how people who drive above the speed limit slow down when they see a police officer? You know why? Accountability. Wisely choose people in your life who will help you stay the course.
2. Transparency – Honest accountability is of no value if there is no transparency. This means there have to be people in your life with whom you can be completely honest, without fear of judgment. This doesn’t mean they won’t correct you, but they won’t judge you. Most people hide things because they are worried about how they will be perceived.
If you are struggling, you’re struggling. If you are fighting, you’re fighting. If you are tired and weak, you’re tired and weak. Regardless of where you are (and we all go through these places, myself included) make sure there are people in your life that will allow you to have complete transparency.
3. Humility – Finally, live in humility. Recognize that you are just as vulnerable to deeds and words in the dark as everyone else. Let this humility cause you to be more watchful so your pride doesn’t make you a victim.
Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. – Galatians 6:1 (NLT, emphasis added)
Prayer to Live in the Light
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. – 1 John 1:7
Lord, help me to walk in the light. Help me to have pure fellowship with you and other believers that comes with no hidden agendas or animosities. Also, help me to walk in the freedom of your grace. To keep my thoughts, words, and ways pure and to keep my feet from walking into dark, sinful places. Let everything that is done in private be pleasing to you—bringing you true honor and true glory. In Jesus name, amen.
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