… be sure your sin will find you out.
— Numbers 32:23
In the news a couple of years ago I read a report from Kennebunkport, Maine that a fitness trainer had turned her business into an underground prostitution ring. I am not clear on whether there were multiple prostitutes available or just her, but the primary focus was on the “johns,” a variety of local men, some of them quite prominent figures, whose names were listed in the newspapers. The ensuing debate is over whether such a practice is appropriate. Won’t it ruin these men’s lives and devastate their families? The public shaming is part of the attempt to crack down on prostitution in the area.
I confess I’m not sure how I feel about the publishing of the names. I feel similar in my reaction to those who hang out in the parking lots of adult bookstores and strip clubs, snapping photos of the patrons as they come and go, to print their pics in the local paper, “outing” them. It’s an effort to “take back” neighborhoods, which I certainly sympathize with. In the latter example, nothing illegal (theoretically) is taking place, while of course in the former case, it is. And I guess I can also see the logic in publicizing the names of those soliciting prostitution as way of creating parity with other crimes, whose suspects are regularly named in the media.
And I suppose this is essentially a modern fulfillment of the biblical principle: “your sins will find you out.”
Your sins will find you out. You won’t get away with it. There will be justice. In this life or the next. Or both.
I think many of us who have tasted of the Lord’s holiness have a degree, some more than others, of the shame of sin. We envision the day when we will stand before the Lord to give an account of everything we’ve done. I recall preachers past suggesting a giant movie screen will play before God and everybody of all our sins, the ones external and internal, the ones we remember and the ones we don’t. Every single drop of bitterness, unkind word, every single second of lust, every hateful thought, every self-indulgent theft of the glory belonging only to God in stunning color and panoramic vision. Like a list of names in the newspaper or only infinitely worse. “This man! This man is a pervert” the broadcast will reveal.
But then there is the promise of my holy God himself—that his Son is not ashamed to call me his brother (Hebrews 2:11). He oughta be! But he’s not. He has satisfied justice by taking the endless list of my sins upon himself, bearing my shame on a public cross beneath a paper vindictively, sarcastically publishing his name. I stake everything on that promise and the promises from which it is derived. There is the promise that he will present me blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy (Jude 24). Oh, he will read a list, all right. He calls it the Lamb’s Book of Life. And because this ferociously holy and glory-jealous God has foreknown me, elected me, justified me, sanctified me, is sanctifying me, and will glorify me, my name will be found in it.
“This man! This man is a good and faithful servant” the broadcast will reveal. For I have been covered in the righteousness of my precious Redeemer. He has cast my sins in to the depths of the sea to remember them no more. (Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!)
Christian, be sure his righteousness will find you out.