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We will now uncover some of Satan’s major strategies on the battleground of temptation. One of the ways Satan persuades people to yield to temptation is by whispering the lie that they can get away with it if they do it in secret. But the scriptures teach that there is no such thing as a secret sin. “For nothing is secret, that shall not be manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad” (Luke 8:17).
“There is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known” (Matthew 10:26). Everything we do, whether in private or in public, is divinely recorded and will be presented as evidence for or against us in the final day of judgment. The Lord has warned, “you have many things to do and to repent of; for behold, your sins have come up unto me” (D&C 56:14).
But behold, ye cannot hide your crimes from God; and except ye repent they will stand as a testimony against you at the last day. (Alma 39:8)
Some may think the Almighty does not see their doings, but if he does not, the angels and ministering spirits do. They see you and your works, and I have no doubt but that they occasionally communicate your conduct to the Father, or to the Son. (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1919, 435–36)
Smoking is prohibited in the buildings where I work. I am always amused by the naive people who think they can smoke undetected because they are hidden in the safety of rest room stalls where no one can see them. A nonsmoker can detect the evidence of their violation the instant the door is opened. Satan’s efforts to convince us that our “secret” sins will go undetected by an omnipotent God are equally lamentable, but we will not be deceived if we remember that “All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:13). “For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and he pondereth all his goings” (Proverbs 5:21).
To encourage sinful indulgences, Satan also whispers that people will be safe in their sin if they do it in remote places where there are no prying eyes to judge or hold them accountable. But scripture says of the Lord’s awareness: “Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off . . . and art acquainted with all my ways” (Psalms 139:2–3).
There are no corners so dark, no deserts so uninhabited, no canyons so remote, no automobiles so hidden, no homes so tight and shut but that the all-seeing One can penetrate and observe. (Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, 110)
Behold, ye have sinned against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out. (Numbers 32:23)
In addition to his deception regarding sinning in remote places, Satan also whispers that we are safe in our sins if we do them at night, under the cover of darkness, as if the Lord wouldn’t notice because he is asleep. But the Lord doesn’t keep office hours, for “Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalms 121:4). Nor does the dark of night prevent God from seeing what we do, for “There is no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves” (Job 34:21–22).
If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. (Psalms 139:11–12)
If we are not deceived by Satan’s lies about hiding in darkness or remote places, he whispers, There is no God, but even if there were, he is so far away that he couldn’t possibly see you or observe your sins. Do whatever you want. No one is watching. But Christ has told us that he is not a faraway, isolated shepherd. Even when Christ must leave the earth for duties elsewhere, we still remain under his observation and watchful care. “The Lord looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men. From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth.” (Psalms 33:13–14)
For mine eyes are upon all their ways: they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes. (Jeremiah 16:17)
Let us consider Bishop Vaughn J. Featherstone’s sobering challenge: Would you picture a huge scroll sliding down from the ceiling?
On it are listed the names of those who purchased pornographic literature. The list is large enough so that all may see. Is your name on the list? Now suppose those names are removed, and the names of all those who attended or viewed X-rated movies are presented so that all who are in the congregation may see.
Again, is your name on the list?
Now . . . how about all those of you who have a masturbation problem? If the names of those who had the problem were projected across this huge scroll, would your name be there, or would you be able to sit back confident and pure in heart?
And . . . what if we had the names of those who had a homosexual problem? What if their names were on this huge scroll? Their names removed, then we had those who are adulterers, who are serving in priesthood positions, unbeknownst to many, unbeknownst unto anyone except themselves and the partner in sin? How about all of you who have committed fornication? Or have you been involved in petting? Suppose their names were on this huge scroll, so that all may see.
Now I can tell you this. I bear my solemn witness that if you do not self-inflict a purging in your lives, the time may well come when there might not be a scroll, but it will be as though there were. It may be as though it had been shouted from the tops of the houses. People cannot hide sin. You cannot mock God and hold the Lord’s holy priesthood and pretend that you are his servant. (Ensign, May 1975, 66)
Finally, when the devil sees we will not be deceived by lies about secret sins, he counters, Okay, so you can’t hide. But how can you possibly love a God who vindictively watches for every little mistake you make? Once again, Satan is trying to place barriers between us and God by inferring that his watchfulness is only to punish wickedness, when in reality, he is anxiously watching for opportunities to bless.
Elder Horacio A. Tenorio of the Second Quorum of Seventy said, “Our Heavenly Father loves us dearly and watches over us in all our needs and cares, following us through life step by step” (Ensign, May 1990, 79). Remembering that God is ever mindful of us and watching us day by day, deed by deed, choice by choice will help us ignore Satan’s enticing lies that we can hide our sins because no one would know or care. It helps us strive more diligently to honor the trust God has given us through personal agency and to give him happy, obedient lives to observe and reward.
The eyes of the lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good. (Proverbs 15:3)
The following was an excerpt from the book Putting on the Armor of God, currently on sale at cedarfort.com.