"Incognito" Mode

On many web browsers there is an option to open up a tab or window in which is promised the privacy of visiting whatever site that you wish without others knowing. This option goes by different names depending on the browser: for example, Google Chrome (which is used on nearly every Android smartphone) refers to theirs as “Incognito Mode”. The idea is simple enough: when using “Incognito Mode”, the browser will not keep record of what websites you have visited as it normally does, nor will it store what you typed into your search bar or data from those websites.

The motivation behind the creation of this special mode of internet browsing is obvious to anyone familiar with the types of websites that are available on the internet. While there are limited instances of the harmless use of this mode (for instance, online shopping for a spouse’s birthday gift and you want to keep it a secret), the vast majority of the time private modes of internet browsing are used for visiting websites we’d rather not have others know about, such as those featuring pornography.

However, this mode of Internet surfing is not completely hidden. While the browser and device itself may not keep record of the internet activity while using these private modes, others can and often do access what was viewed. For instance, note the disclaimer that Google Chrome gives concerning “incognito mode”: “Your activity might still be visible to: Websites you visit, Your employer or school, or Your internet service provider.”

For anyone familiar with the Bible, it would seem that Google has left someone rather important off the list.

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.” (Hebrews 4.13)

Friends, “Incognito Mode” hides nothing from the LORD. You may be able to keep your web browsing history hidden from your parents, your spouse, your children, or your friends, but NOTHING is hidden from God. Put it this way: every word, image, and video on every website and social media page you have EVER visited is known by God. For many, this is a terrifying concept: no matter how many times we try to press the “Delete History” button, God’s perfect record of where we have been on the Internet, along with everything else we have ever done, remains unchanged.

Think about it: If God couldn’t see everything we do online, wouldn’t that mean that He doesn’t know everything, and therefore disqualify Him from being God? Take this one step further: If God can see everything we do, read, and see online, and doesn’t care about it or will not judge it, wouldn’t that mean that HE is not ultimately righteous, which would disqualify Him from being God? If these first two are true (that God sees all and God judges all according to righteousness), then why on earth can we believe that using “Incognito Mode” will have the smallest measure of effect on whether or not God will judge us!

It is the evil person who believes that God cannot see the evil that they do, nor execute judgment on account of it. “In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, "There is no God…HE says in his heart, “God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it.” (Psalm 10.4, 11) Consider also Psalm 69.5, as David writes concerning his own sin: “O God, you know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.” Not only do we know that God sees what we do on the internet, but we are assured that we will be judged for everything we have done in our lives: “And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.” (Revelation 20.12c)

Consider these things as we use the Internet in a godly way, and do not be deceived by the false promises of anonymity our world will offer us. May the words of Paul in Galatians 6 ring in our ears as we open our Facebook pages, type into our search bars, or open our emails: “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” (v.7-8)