No matter how many systems you employ, how much deep work you pursue, or how many tips and tricks you learn, if you are living with unconfessed sin the quality of your work will be diminished and be rendered ultimately fruitless. You will never succeed if you are living with unconfessed sin.
There are many more reasons to aggressively put sin out of your life, but permit me to make just one more argument for getting serious about dealing with the sin in your life. I offer this in the hopes that it will awaken you to the devious and destructive power of sin such that you will run to Christ and take measures to deal with unconfessed sin once and for all.
Unconfessed sin is killing your productivity.
A life of unconfessed sin makes you stupid and lazy, and it turns even your successes into failures. Whereas it’s opposite, a life of holiness leads to discipline and productivity which honors God and bears fruit for eternity.
Unconfessed Sin Makes You Stupid
Unconfessed sin rolls in a downward spiral of stupidity, ultimately resulting in God giving men over to their folly (Romans 1:28). Thankfully, in Christ we enjoy forgiveness for sin and even victory over the power of sin. But even for Christians sometimes when things are going well we can grow comfortable with little sins. We even wonder if God cares all that much. We feel too blessed to be stressed over sins that remain unconfessed. In these times we can deceive ourselves with the half-formed assumption that maybe God doesn’t notice or care that much about this one, teeny, tiny, secret sin.
But that’s stupid.
God sees even the tiniest of turpitudes, and the Vinedresser will prune the wayward branches. He does this for our good, that we might bear more fruit (John 15:1–2). And in love, He may come with the heavy-duty, industrial sheers of trials to turn us back to Him. Or He may come more gently with subtle secateurs to thwart your successes. All of this is for our good, but it’s not very fun. The Lord, “disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” (Hebrews 12:6; cf. Psalm 94:12).
Sometimes this chastening comes in the form of temporarily decreased faculties. Puritan John Owen once wrote, “sin engenders mental sloth.” And theologians speak of the noetic effects of sin—which is to say sin makes us stupid. And this is true even for believers.
Those who wallow in sin, wallow in dullness of mind. Why? Because we sin when we choose to believe lies, and the more we embrace lies the dumber we become to the truth. For a Christian, who loves God’s holy character, cherishes His righteous law, and knows the price He paid for sin, sinning is profoundly stupid. And to continue to tread that path will make your mind duller and duller as you go. The stupefying effects of sin reduce our faculties in a way that makes us less productive.
Unconfessed Sin Makes You Lazy
Sin not only makes you stupid it makes you lazy. Repeatedly succumbing to temptation is practice for training a weak will. And that undisciplined attitude will affect all areas of your life and work. You will get less done, your ability to focus will be diminished, and your work will slip. In short, you’ll become lazy. And in many places, the Scriptures demonstrate that laziness is just another manifestation of foolishness. “I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man lacking sense,” (Proverbs 24:30).
To avoid being stupid and lazy, we must begin with the fear of the Lord. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7). Which is to say, begin with obedience to the law of God. By the Holy Spirit’s power, cease from those repeat sins—the work gossip, the secret websites, and the dishonest practices. Repent and turn to Christ, your Great High Priest, who stands ready to forgive and advocate on your behalf before the Father.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”1 John 1:9
You might object that there are plenty of people living with unconfessed sin who are highly disciplined and productive. They show anything but signs of laziness and stupidity. That is merely a sign of the Lord’s patience toward them, but do not look at their temporary success as an excuse to wallow in unconfessed sin. The Lord is patient, but that patience has a purpose and a limit (Romans 2:4). Eventually, sin catches up with all of us.
Unconfessed Sin Turns Your Success into Failure
Sometimes the Lord chastens His children by granting them the very idols they crave. Instead of bringing the rod, He simply removes His restraining hand. This seems like a less severe form of discipline, but it is actually the most severe.
Perhaps you are seeking success in some corner of your life, maybe the growth of your business or ascension in your social circles. But you are seeking these things while harboring unconfessed sin. Often the trial that comes to chasten you in these situations is simply the Lord giving you exactly what you want. It is in this way that we discover how vapid the sinful desires of our hearts really are. When we seek satisfaction apart from the fount of all blessings, we will always come up thirsty.
And perhaps the worst discipline of all would be to succeed in our pursuits and productivity while nursing hidden sin only to discover in the final evaluation that sin had turned even those successes into failures. Because the ultimate assessment of success or productivity or fruitfulness comes from God. Did I lead a life that was pleasing to Him? Was I obedient? Did I love the Lord my God with all of me, and serve my neighbor as I ought?
What reward will we have if we continue to shelter unconfessed sin?
Holiness Leads to Discipline and Productivity
Yes, unconfessed sin makes you stupid and lazy, and it turns even our successes into failures. But the opposite is true as well. Just as unconfessed sin leads to a lack of productivity, a life of holiness tends to discipline and fruitfulness, not only in this life but in the life to come.
Listen to what J.I. Packer said of the Puritans and the result of their zeal for holiness:
“The Puritans . . . were strongest just where evangelical Christians today are weakest. . . . Here were men of outstanding intellectual power, in whom the mental habits fostered by sober scholarship were linked with a flaming zeal for God and a minute acquaintance with the human heart”J.I. Packer
May we be people marked by holiness and therefore disciplined in mind and body, and with our eyes fixed clearly on pursuing the productivity and success that counts for eternity.