Is it wrong to keep a secret?

Question:

Is it a sin to keep secrets?

I have some secrets I want to keep hidden at the moment. Only at the right time will I reveal it. However, this is a compounding issue. Since keeping secrets may often lead to lies, and (as I've read on your website) lying is not an option. If secrets involve lying, is it a sin to keep secrets?

If it isn't a sin to keep secrets, what's the best way to avoid it getting revealed or exposed without having to lie?

Answer:

"Now the LORD said to Samuel, "How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have selected a king for Myself among his sons." But Samuel said, "How can I go? When Saul hears of it, he will kill me." And the LORD said, "Take a heifer with you and say, 'I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.' "You shall invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for Me the one whom I designate to you." So Samuel did what the LORD said, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the city came trembling to meet him and said, "Do you come in peace?" He said, "In peace; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Consecrate yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice." He also consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice" (I Samuel 16:1-5).

God wanted Samuel to appoint a replacement for King Saul, but Samuel was afraid of what Saul would do if he heard that another king was appointed. Thus, God told Samuel to offer a sacrifice in the town where the next king (David) happened to live. As a result, when people asked Samuel why he was there, he could honestly answer that he was there to offer a sacrifice. He didn't have to mention that his primary purpose was to appoint the next king. There was no dishonesty. Samuel never lied because no one thought to ask him if he was there for other reasons.

From this, we learn that you don't have to reveal everything you know in order to be honest. Some things others just don't need to know or they might cause harm if they are revealed. Sometimes people will tell you things privately that they don't want others to know. "He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy conceals a matter" (Proverbs 11:13).  This doesn't mean that if someone told you that they are going to rob a bank or commit suicide that you can't tell someone. Those are matters of sin and they need to be revealed to prevent harm from being done. However, if someone told you in confidence that he is in love with Suzy, then he should be confident that you won't tell anyone else.

The best way to keep a secret is to not say anything. It is never appropriate to lie. You cannot accomplish good through sin. "And why not say (as we are slanderously reported and as some claim that we say), "Let us do evil that good may come"? Their condemnation is just" (Romans 3:8). But refusing to speak is not a lie. Or you can say, "I cannot talk about it." But most often people don't think to ask the right questions and you are not required to indicate what question they ought to ask.

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