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Carl Lentz’s Confession and the Critical Need for Accountability

Last Updated: November 12, 2020

Keith Rose

Keith Rose holds a Master of Divinity degree from Reformed Theological Seminary and a BA in Sacred Music from Moody Bible Institute. Keith worked with the Covenant Eyes Member Care Team for 15 years. During that time, he also served as a worship leader, Bible teacher, and pastoral assistant. He lives in Rexford, Montana with his wife Ruby.

Covenant Eyes was founded on the idea that open and authentic accountability relationships are critical to freedom from secret sin. It’s always painful for us to hear stories of Christians caught in secret sin. It’s particularly sobering when it’s a Christian leader.

Hillsong pastor Carl Lentz, famed for his large church, stylish tattoos, and high-profile friendship with Justin Bieber, publicly confessed that he had been cheating on his wife.

We pray for grace and healing for Lentz and his family.

We will not go into details about his specific actions here. However, this quote from Lentz’s Instagram statement can be instructive and informative to all of us. It demonstrates how accountability can help us stomp out sinful actions early, before they escalate:

“…over the years I did not do an adequate job of protecting my own spirit, refilling my own soul and reaching out for the readily available help that is available…”

Here, we find three things he acknowledges were lacking in his own life:

1. Protecting my own spirit

Oftentimes, our spirits are under attack and we don’t even realize it. We chalk it up to being tired or stressed, not recognizing there’s a deeply spiritual component to the way we feel. Because it can be hard to recognize, accountability is an important layer of protection for your spirit.

Having allies who hold you accountable and pay close attention to your spiritual well-being helps you become aware of spiritual attacks. Are you facing doubt? Do you feel heaviness in your soul or discouragement about ministry? Are you tempted sexually? Galatians 6:1-2 tells us that God has designed the church to assist those who find themselves under attack:

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

Awareness of the attacks helps you deal with them before they become overwhelming. It can help you avoid being caught up in transgression and secret sin.

2. Refilling my own soul

Spiritual attacks wear on your soul even if you avoid temptation and aren’t trapped in secret sin. If you recognize—or your ally recognizes—that you are being spiritually attacked, you’ll most likely find that your soul has been depleted.

An ally isn’t just someone who helps you avoid temptation. It’s someone who can pour into your soul. This may mean giving you words of encouragement, listening, reminding you of promises from Scripture, praying with you, or even just spending quality time with you relaxing.

Our souls quickly become empty if we’re living out our faith in isolation.  Good allies help refill our spirits by pointing us to the things of God’s Word and living out faith alongside us. Hebrews 3:13 says, “But exhort one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

Notice that the writer of Hebrews connects a lack of encouragement with the tendency to deception and hard-heartedness. Our souls need to be refilled, and the encouragement of fellow believers is a big part of how God accomplishes this.

3. Reaching out for help

If you proactively pursue accountability, it’s going to help protect your spirit and fill your soul. This goes a long way to help keep you free of secret sin.

However, there may still be moments when you feel overwhelmed with temptation. Perhaps the temptation is looking at porn or some other kind of sexual infidelity. Whatever it is, who are you going to call in these moments?

James 5:16 encourages us to, “…confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

There is great power and healing in confession. Admit your weakness to an ally. Confess where you’ve made compromises and harbored secret sins.

While grieving the news of another pastor caught in the scandal of sexual sin, Lentz’s Instagram message reminds us we must take seriously the challenge to make accountability a regular part of our lives.

  • Comments on: Carl Lentz’s Confession and the Critical Need for Accountability
    1. Shane Bekker on

      I am concerned at how few men are able to make others accountable. There is a lack of spiritual vitality in the church, let alone coming from the leadership of the church at this current time.

      I have been treated in a way that I see pastors and leaders distancing themselves from me because they say that my problem is too hard. They don’t even believe what the Word of God says, yet they speak it from the platform. I have had policies put to me to, so called, “protect the church”, yet when it comes to empowering and restoring a person, they don’t want to do it. It makes me feel as good as dead.

      You wonder why the spirit of the person runs dry; it’s because leaders have given up. Pastors and leaders, as far as I am concerned, have become more interested in their fame ‘success’ in the ministry, rather than building God’s church to walk in righteousness. Success in the ministry is building God’s church to live without any kind of spot, wrinkle or blemish through the washing of the water of the Word Ephesians 5:26-27. I’m not being legalistic. I’m being genuine. Would Jesus ask for this and fail? Think about it. God has actually revealed that we can achieve this. When are we going to start believing that it is possible?

      I have been free from porn for years now. I’ve lost count for how long. I actually don’t even use the Covenant eyes accountability service because as far as that is concerned for me, I don’t need it. What I struggle with is what is in my head. We are good creators of our own fantasies. We don’t need porn in front of us to create. This is a stage in conquering sin that we haven’t addressed properly. If we are to take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5), that includes that which we create ourselves, especially if it is unrighteous thinking.

      Last year (2019) I sensed the Holy Spirit speak to me and say, “I created Holy; you create unholy.” We actually do! It’s the very reason why we need Jesus. It’s the very reason we need the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to transform our lives.

      You see, Philippians 4:8 is about thinking pure, true, honest, lovely, of good virtue and praise to God. We need to capture this thinking to replace the unholy thinking; to. “Be-(come) strong in the Lord and the power of His might” Ephesians 6:10, but we can only do this is we learn to walk Holy Spirit led. We can’t just magically hope this will disappear the moment we overcome looking at porn. There’s this extra step that needs to be put in place. Accountability here is what is required. A verse that comes to mind is: James 5:16 “Confess your sins to one another and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.” This verse literally shows the speed of God’s forgiveness.

      We need to focus on being strong in the Lord, empowered by the Holy Spirit. What I am trying to say is that our spiritual vitality has to be up, but it has been down for too long. It may sound harsh, but the reality is that it’s true. Men have retreated when it comes to being strong spiritual men of God. We’ve let the cares of this world pull us down. From what I have read on this site, unfortunately women have let the same happen to them.

      Can I be dangerous and put a perspective, that the women’s liberation movement has sought to suppress and oppress men even to this day! If you think I am wrong, please say so. We’ve let women dictate to men what they want the men to do, but it has come through a spirit of offence, rather than a “…spirit of love, power and self-discipline!” (2 Timothy 1:7).

      We need to step up in accountability beyond having a person cured from looking at porn. We need to get out of their heads what they create that is still porn related. We need to get the respect women deserve to have because of God’s Word into men’s minds. Example: Proverbs 31 – This is a chapter about the qualities of the woman, but men need to understand how to be empowered to establish these qualities as well. It’s not making men feminine, but actually helping men to spiritually be strong with integrity and empower women in a Godly manner, where women in turn respect the men. Maybe then the porn in the mind will be conquered.

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