“Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matt. 7:22-23).
We often make the grave mistake of evaluating our spiritual health based on our external practices or accomplishments. We think to ourselves, “I attend church almost every week. I’m in a Bible study. I even shared the gospel with someone last week! My inner life is good.” Jesus’ words in Matthew 7 are a warning against this kind of thinking. He’s saying it’s possible for your outer life to look really good while you’re inner life is a mess. It’s possible for you to be doing great things for Jesus on the outside, but still be distant from him… even lost.
So how do I know the real condition of my inner life? The Puritan John Owen captures one tell tale sign of a healthy inner life:
“A minister may fill his pews, his communion roll, the mouths of the public, but what that minister is on his knees in secret before God Almighty, that he is and no more.”
The true test of our spiritual integrity is our private prayer life. What we do in private when there’s no possibility to receive anyone’s praise for what we’re doing in private, is a true indicator of the health of our relationship with Jesus Christ. So what’s your private life look like? Are you praying? Are you meditating on Scripture for your own sake? The private life reveals the true condition of the inner life.