You're only as sick as your secrets

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 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 1:5–7)

There is a popular saying in recovery circles that “we’re only as sick as our secrets.” This is a recognition that there is a harmful power to a secret kept in the dark, that deception and a lack of transparency can allow sin or negative patterns of thought or behavior to fester. Conversely, bringing things into the light with honest confession can break that power and be a critical step on the road to recovery.

In the first chapter of John’s first letter, written a couple of thousand years before the first AA meeting, John tells us something very similar. “God is light,” John says, and so those who claim to follow Him must walk in the light. As we do this, he continues, “we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:5-7). We might anticipate that John would argue that walking in the light maintains our fellowship with God. But interestingly, John also writes that when we walk in the light, we have fellowship with one another as well. In other words, our secrets don’t just make us sick – they also hinder our relationships with others in our life.

In recovery movements, individuals who desire sobriety are encouraged to find a sponsor, someone who will help keep them accountable and offer support and guidance throughout the journey. Choosing to have a sponsor is a humble admission that we might not be able to achieve and maintain sobriety without the help of others. In the Christian life, an honest admission of our own sinful tendencies should lead us to find at least one other person who can help keep us accountable to walking in the light. It takes discernment to know who we can trust with our secrets, but seeking accountability can be a necessary step towards holiness.

In Psalm 139:23–24, David writes, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Take time today to ask the Lord to reveal if there is anything in your life that you are keeping secret, anything that is preventing you from walking in the light and in honest fellowship with Him and with others. Confess this to Him, and then find someone that you trust that you can share this honestly with. We are only as sick as our secrets, but in the light, the power is broken and healing begins.

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