SINS & GOOD WORKS - KNOWN & HIDDEN
1 Tim 5:24-25 Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after. Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.
First we are assured that God has full knowledge of every sin that is committed, as well as every good deed that is performed. The lesson text indicates that does not apply to all mankind. Here Paul places the sins that people commit into two categories. Men and women have sins that are open, and are publicly known to the people around them. Men and women also have sins that only they, or very few others, have knowledge of. These are hidden from the world and will only be made known when they face God on the Day of Judgment.
It is because of this truth that the selection of elders and deacons should not be made with haste, neither should they be hastily judged when accusations are brought against them. This Paul indicated in preceding verses 19 and 22 above. Although this is the primary application made by most bible scholars, the truths found in the lesson text have a much broader application than as it pertains the selection process to fill scriptural offices of the church of Christ. This truth about human conduct, that is, both their sins committed, and their good works accomplished while here on earth, are universal in their nature - both are sometimes known, and at other times both are hidden, but all will be made known on Judgment Day and dealt with justly by our Creator, the God of Heaven and Earth.
The human selection process, in all aspects of life, is generally no more than educated guesses. As noted in this context, it is the procedures, authorized by Holy Scriptures, used for the selection and appointment of church officials. But it is equally applicable in selecting men and women to fill a job opening, whether it is for a janitor, company executive, high school administrator, army cadet, or NASA astronaut. A good example of this process is, when a person submits their name for consideration to be elected to a public office at any level, from county commissioner to president of the United States. To influence the public, you freely present all of your good works openly before them in order to obtain their approval. However, it also opens you to the media and public scrutiny that often uncovers many, but probably not all, of your hidden vices, faults, and errors of judgment. Such is the case with public servants.
But how do the truths, found in the lesson text, apply to members of the body of Christ? Whether they are known or hidden, how should a Christian deal with their sins and good works? The answer lies in this most important question: "Regarding my sins, how do I want to face God on Judgment Day?" It is for sure that I want them all forgiven when, face to face, I come before God, through His Son, Christ Jesus. I want them forgiven, not only by God, but also by all people that I have misled, or harmed in any way, during my life here on earth. God's forgiveness must be sought for all sins. For those sins that were hidden from, unknown by, and brought no harm to others, only His forgiveness is necessary. Forgiveness must be sought from the congregation for sins that are open,and may havebrought reproach on the church of Christ. And I must seek individual forgiveness for any sins that were committed against any of my fellow human beings.
"Regarding my good works, how do I want to face God on Judgment Day?" Most certainly I want to have as many good deeds of love as possible. While on earth I need to use the talents, time, and physical blessings God has given me, unselfishly by sharing them with others, filling both their spiritual and physical needs. Not only will such deeds be beneficial to those receiving them, but they will also glorify God before others that observe them. In this meaning, our Lord Jesus Christ tells us to let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works (Matt. 5:16). Notice that it says to "let your light so shine before men," it does not say to "intentionally shine your light before men." There is a huge difference. To be "seen doing good works" is desirable to God. To "desire to be seen doing good works" is an abomination in His sight. Works of charity, that are known to others, serves a good purpose. Good works that are unknown to the general public, those that are intentionally hidden to avoid the applause and acclaim of others, are often more beneficial to all, in the sight of God.
All that face God on Judgment Day are told that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them (Rev. 14:13). Our sins and our good works, both known and hidden, will be the only things that testifies on our behalf, when we come face to face with God, through Christ Jesus. Make sure your sins are forgiven, your good works have been your best, were freely given to benefit others, and glorify God.