The psalmist writes the following about one of God’s greatest promises: “If his sons forsake my law and do not walk in my judgments, if they break my statutes and do not keep my commandments, then I will punish their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my lovingkindness I will not utterly take from him, nor allow my faithfulness to fail” (Psalm 89:30-33, NKJV).

God promises to never remove his lovingkindness from us, no matter how badly we may fall. However, many believers skip lightly over the heavy warning in this verse. If we forsake God’s law and refuse to keep his commands, he’ll visit our transgressions with his divine rod.

The Bible tells us that whomever the Lord loves, he chastens. We see this truth illustrated vividly in David’s life. Consider how the Lord dealt with this man, a faithful servant who enjoyed God’s favor. At one point in his life, David sinned awfully then justified it and kept it hidden for months on end. Finally, God said, “Enough” and sent a prophet to expose David’s sin. The prophet Nathan used an analogy to tear apart every excuse David had until finally the king admitted, “I’ve sinned. I’m guilty.”

David wrote, “For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away” (Psalm 31:10).Like a hole in the oil tank of a car, your sin will slowly drain you of all peace, joy and strength.

I know Christians who lead lives of utter confusion because they continue to indulge in sins. These hollow souls are always downcast and weak, forever struggling but getting nowhere. If you harbor a secret sin, you’ll experience continual disturbances in your life, home, family and work. You’ll become increasingly restless, confused and tossed about by endless worries and fears. All of your peace and strength will be drained from you.

God does not want to expose his servants; rather, it is in his heart to forgive, cleanse and cover our sins. In love, he will discipline his righteous one, but his rod is for the lawless. Exposure of secret sin is God’s last attempt to save a rebellious, hypocritical child who has determined to indulge in sin yet play the part of a spiritual man. God’s rod is reserved only for unrepentant, hardhearted believers.