The practice of private holiness – Who are you when no one is watching?

2020 will be a year that many people will remember for a long time. The pandemic hit hard and we will feel the impact for years to come, but it wasn’t the only thing that shocked us. Unfortunately 2 other events in the last 12 months also rocked the boat a bit.

The firing of Hillsong pastor Carl Lentz and death and fall of Ravi Zacharias

We found out that two well known Christians with pretty big platforms made some pretty bad choices behind closed doors. One was able to make a statement about his behaviour, unfortunately the only reports we are getting from the other, are from the people and ministry that he left behind that have been hurt. Both situations are sad and give the world another reason to look at the Church with hatred.

I was sad and shocked at the news of Ravi Zacharias, and left wondering how much accountability these 2 men had, and whether people in their church communities knew them well enough to ask questions about how they were doing in their faith walk.

Platform or no platform all Christians need to check who they are when no one is watching!

If any good can come out of the fall of these two men, it’s the reminder of the need of holiness that needs to be practiced in the lives of the body of Christ. I reckon God is giving us an opportunity to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith. Could it be that many of us are on our best behaviour when we have an audience but when it comes to our private lives and accountability we would rather not have people interfere?

The question of who we are when no one is watching is an important one because it means we are to take a closer look, and by taking a closer look at our private lives, it means Jesus can help us see where we have gone wrong. The issue is the private practice of being holy. I read somewhere that “As believers, we need to be set apart from the world. That we need to be living God’s standards, not the worlds. That God is calling us to be distinct from the world”.

Surely this doesn’t just mean the kind of lives we are living in public. Our private lives matter as well!

In the 16th chapter of 1 Samuel, we read that man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. God is less interested in our acting, our speaking Christianese and doing all the right Christian things like church attendance, especially if our hearts are far from him. If our hearts are important to God and our private lives matter when it comes to being set apart, what does it look like day to day for the disciple of Jesus? When it comes to Christian living, I would say that this issue is at the top of the list of importance and should be taken seriously.

As I think about my journey of who I am when no one is watching, and the issues of the private practice of holiness in the church, I have come to the conclusion that because the practice of accountability is often not made a priority in our Christian communities 1. The body of Christ lacks people who know how to be go to people for individuals and 2. It has too many people who simply don’t know how to be accountable.

If the culture of the Church is going to change for the better in this regard, I believe there will need to be a shift in thinking in 3 areas.

  • A reminder or new learning about holiness, because being set apart is part of being a disciple of Jesus Christ.
  • Repentance. If your living a double life and practicing sin in private, it’s time to stop and change direction. If your reading this and think you have walked too far away to come back, or if your just cruising along, living your own life and giving no thought to what the bible actually says about who you are before God, I want to direct you to 1 John 1:8-9 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness. So either way God’s faithfulness can handle what we have going on.
  • Find someone in your Church or network who you can connect with. This is not everyone’s cup of tea and its not always easy to find someone that can be trusted but it’s worth your time and effort.

I reckon the deliberate practice of being honest about our personal lives with others, making sure we are not living double lives and most of all being honest with God about our inability to live the Christian life in our own strength, is a massive way we can avoid ending up being exposed as hypocrites, and instead encourage other Christians as well as the world to want to know God more.

Have you got any thoughts on this issue that you would like to share?

Father God, we are thankful that you are faithful and that you cleanse us when we come to you confessing our sins. We ask that you help us to be more real when it comes to the sharing of our private lives with others and give us the wisdom to know how to be available to those that may be struggling in our church communities. – Amen

4 thoughts on “The practice of private holiness – Who are you when no one is watching?

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  1. My first thought: I’ve heard of Ravi Zacharias, but who is Carl Lentz, and what did they do? Not looking it up right now, but it is true that integrity flows from the inside out, just as it is written that God sees our hearts, and we can’t really fool the Truth! And as you refreshingly put it, Christian-ing is about being, not doing. Great to read from you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Practice holiness and who we are in our personal lives when no one is watching matters to Jesus.
    I like what you said about practicing accountability.
    I had heard about Carl Lenz. I was unaware of the controversy surrounding Ravi Zacharias. Whenever I hear about things like this, it saddens me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very sad about Ravi but I must admit I never felt 💯 about him. Still, I did not expect those claims. As for your main point, I think the American church has bought into the myth of separation of religious life and public/private life . If you look at what Paul and Peter taught about accountability, we are definitely failing to hold to those guidelines. We must be willing to call out and kick out the unrepentant ones who are caught in sin. Also money and power are very corrupting forces and leaders are constantly in danger and need specific people watching them. Church discipline is not a popular topic, but if we had more people willing to be held accountable the church would be better off. Instead we have entire denominations that not only excuse but celebrate sin! Come soon, Jesus!

    Liked by 1 person

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