God Watches You Browse “Incognito”
The first time I ever used the internet browser “Chrome” was when I first got my iPad. I clicked open the app to use the internet and noticed the option to open a “New Incognito Tab”. I had no idea what that meant, so I clicked on it, and this message came up:
You’ve gone incognito. Pages you view in this tab won’t appear in your browser history or search history.
It was painfully obvious to me that whoever developed this technology did so with the intention of allowing internet users to look up pornography in a convenient, untraceable way. I’m sure there are other reasons that internet users might want their search history to not be traced, but likely very few of them are noble. I could imagine someone ordering a special gift online and covering their online tracks so that the family member won’t find their future present in the browsing history. Yet I sincerely doubt that was the intention behind the creation of incognito browsing. Rather, it was made so that people could do morally questionable or downright sinful things online in secret and keep it that way.
What a foolish way to live. Why do we naively think that sinning in secret is a good idea? I understand why someone would want to keep their sin under wraps. It is the natural thing to do. It would keep them from a lot of embarrassment, judgment, and severe consequences for their actions. It is terrifying to think that our innermost, evil thoughts could one day become known by others. Internet activity is one area where people go to great lengths to keep their shameful secrets in the dark. How convenient that internet browsers now have built-in options to take away those fears.
Despite this new, convenient way to sin and cover it up, I would like to point out one serious problem with browsing incognito as a method of hiding online activity:
God sees what you are doing.
As good as technology may be at keeping others at bay from our secrets, it can’t do a single thing to stop God from seeing everything that goes on. He is the all-powerful, all-present, all-knowing God of the universe, after all. I don’t think a clever computer code is going to stop him from being God.
The sad reality is, most people know this to be true, yet choose to sin anyway. They know that God can see anything they do online (or anywhere else for that matter), but choose to go “incognito” because, at the very least, this will stop people from knowing. You see, we have this sad little game we play in our heads where we know that God is watching, but sin anyways because being found out by people seems worse than being found out by God. If someone were to find out our sinful, online habits, we would be ashamed immediately. But at least with God, it won’t happen for a while…or so we rationalize it. In the heat of temptation, we somehow see standing before God and giving an account for our lives as less intimidating than someone else finding out our secret. Our twisted thinking makes us fear men more than we fear God.
Let the Word of God set your perspective straight. God sees everything, and every one of us will give an account for what we do in both public and private.
Psalm 33:13-15 The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man;  from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth,  he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds.
Jeremiah 23:24 Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD.
Jeremiah 16:17 For my eyes are on all their ways. They are not hidden from me, nor is their iniquity concealed from my eyes.
Psalm 69:5 O God, you know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.
Job 34:21-22 For his eyes are on the ways of a man, and he sees all his steps.  There is no gloom or deep darkness where evildoers may hide themselves.
Romans 2:16 …on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.
Proverbs 15:3 The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.
Hebrews 4:13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
A few quick applications come to mind.
- Browse the internet as if God was sitting right next to you. He is.
- Fight your sin any way you can. The pull of sin is strong. If the incognito function is still a temptation, print out Hebrews 4:13 and tape it above your computer screen. Or, install software that will prevent you from accessing inappropriate website. Or, use only internet broswers that track your online history. Do whatever it takes!
- Confess your sin. God already knows what you are up to. Come clean, and seek forgiveness. You should also talk to another Christian that you trust and confide in them about what you are doing, and have them pray for you and check in with you.
- Watch your kids. If you are a parent, you should take steps to ensure that your children aren’t browsing the internet in a way that encourages their sinful desires to run wild. See application number 2.
- Imagine the freedom of a clear conscience. Those who sin and cover it up deal with constant guilt and the fear that someone will find them out. How great it feels to have these burdens lifted! Confession and holy living lead to freedom. Let that help motivate you towards making better choices.