Our actions are never done in isolation. While we might commit a sin that no one knows about at the time, ultimately, that sin will have an impact on someone.
Perhaps the most outstanding example of this would be the sin committed by Adam and Eve. It was done in isolation – there were only the two of them at the time. Even though we had no personal responsibility with that action, we live under the result of that sin to this day.
“Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam … Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation …” (Romans 5:14,18).
Adam’s sin broke his relationship with God, and the consequences of that broken relationship fell upon his offspring – visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children.
We see this principle built into God’s dealings with Israel. In Numbers chapter 32, we read:
“But if you do not do so, then take note, you have sinned against the Lord; and be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).
In this instance, the issue is not a personal sin, but a national one with consequences that will affect a lot of people. We can personalize this by considering the importance of the second major summation of God’s law – “love your neighbor as yourself.” Loving your neighbor involves us as individuals. It will involve your actions, positive or negative, in regard to other people. Sin has consequences and any sin we do in isolation will have an effect on us.
“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23).
Then the issues of life which flow from us will surely affect our neighbor. This is simply because sin breaks our relationship with God. We cannot hide anything from God. So under the banner of loving others, we must diligently keep our heart so we can be a positive influence.
“For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light” (Luke 8:17).
That revealing may well be much more than knowing. The guilt of the sin, if it has not been repented of, will show out of the heart – the attitude – particularly how we relate to others. It is what comes out of the heart of man that defiles him.
If we fulfill the first great commandment of loving God with all of our heart, then it will flow on that we will see the need to express love to our neighbor by eliminating the sin that can break relationships. We need to heed the admonition of Proverbs chapter 28:
He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).
We need to “prosper” in order to show love to our neighbor.