Carl Lentz’s Confession and the Critical Need for Accountability

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.