“Do you ever feel like you are being watched?” The question has been asked in countless novels & Hollywood productions (usually by a character who is about to be the victim of an attempted attack). Call it paranoia; call it premonition; call it perception; whatever you call it, most are familiar with this sensation of suspicion.
People are constantly being observed. Sometimes this is invasive: an estimated 6% of Americans have been the subjects of stalkers & an unknowable number have been victims of voyeurism. Other methods of observation are intended as a benefit: marketing analysts & data compilers monitor every swipe of a credit card & every web search in hopes of appealing to consumer interest, while security cameras in stores & parking lots provide an increased level of safety. Like it or not, more often than not, people are being watched. Someone is watching you.
As inhabitants of this world, God’s children are subject to having their privacy invaded, their routines recorded, & their integrity inspected just like everyone else. In addition to those forms of surveillance common to all men, Christians live under a heightened level of scrutiny. Christ’s followers are being watched by people who need an example, by a devil that is looking for weaknesses, & by the God that sees all. Do we react to this truth with paranoia, or does it motivate us as God’s children to make the most opportunity to provide a light to the world, to perplex the enemy, & to please the Father?
People are watching, and they see the Christian’s walk. The Lord said it best: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). By letting their light shine, those who obey the Gospel become examples to the world around them & thereby glorify God. Parents teach their children to sing, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine,” but too many of those same parents fail to live this song in their lives. Christians are to live as examples for all souls, the saved and the lost.
Christians are examples for the saved. Christians follow Christ: “…walk in the light, as He is in the light” (I John 1:7). However, life’s trials and temptations can often leave God’s children feeling weak, uncertain, or even confused. There are times when a Christian may say, “I do not know if this step I am about to take is in the direction of light or the direction of darkness.” This is when we need examples from our brethren. Paul instructed the Corinthians, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). When occasions arise that truly try the faith of the faithful, examples from fellow children of God can help those who are struggling to regain their footing in the path of light.
Christians are also examples for the lost. After instructing Titus to speak “the things which become sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1), Paul emphasized how Christians of every age & gender are to live as examples for the world around them: “In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works” (Titus 2:2-8). The life of a New Testament Christian is based upon the pattern of obedience, pattern of worship, & pattern of service as revealed in the New Testament. By “denying ungodliness and worldly lusts,” Christians live lives that make them “a peculiar people” compared to the world around them (Titus 2:12-14); this example leads others to heaven. Christians whose lives are indiscernible from the unsaved around them are not a peculiar people, & their examples lead their souls & the souls of others to damnation (Titus 1:15-16).
Christians are being watched by the people around them. This is no invasion of privacy: it is an opportunity to teach righteousness by example & to glorify God in the process. Jesus gave three identifying features that would make it easy for the world to identify His people: purity (Matthew 5:16), charity (John 13:34-35), & unity (John 17:21). For the world to observe these traits, Christians must be observable. As Peter exhorted, “Having our conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12).
Satan is watching, and he seeks the Christian’s weakness. Peter’s warning still stands: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Unlike non-Christians who might learn from a Christian’s example, the only detail the devil seeks to find is weaknesses. His subtlety surpasses that of any voyeur & his purpose more sinister than any stalker. Satan is the most dangerous adversary of God’s people: he always has been & always will be. As a lion surveys a herd & determines the most vulnerable prey, so also Satan surveys Christians with the intent of identifying weaknesses. In the same way that a methodical intruder studies to learn which doors or windows a homeowner may leave unlocked, Satan likewise takes notice & takes note of what he considers to be the easiest points of entry into hearts that belong to God.
Satan’s methods are easily known; they have not changed since the beginning of time. His trickery deceived Eve by appealing to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, & the pride of life (Genesis 3:5). He employed the same tactics when he tried to tempt the Lord (Matthew 4:3, 6, 9). He uses an identical technique today (1 John 2:15-17). His attacks hinge upon temptation.
The first chapter of Job reveals much about what Satan can & cannot know. For instance, Satan seems to be able to go anywhere in this world (Job 1:7). He can observe & consider those who are God’s servants (Job 1:8). Satan can observe a person’s every action. He can learn a person’s hidden vices & private sins. However, man’s adversary can only know as much as men allow him to know. Satan was certain that tribulation would cause Job to curse God to His face: Satan was wrong (Job 1:9-11, 20-22). Satan does not know the future, nor can he read men’s minds or hearts. Only God is able to know the hearts of all the children of men (I Kings 8:39). Because Satan cannot read a person’s mind, the only way that he can learn a Christian’s spiritual weakness is if that Christian makes them known. A woman may be tempted to gossip, a man may be tempted to make money through dishonest means, & a teenager may be tempted to fornicate; however, when Christians refuse to succumb to their greatest temptations, they render Satan ignorant of their weaknesses. An enemy with no knowledge of his opponent’s weakness has no reliable plan of attack & must eventually retreat. Satan will (James 4:7).
The Adversary has his eye on Christians. Those who retain sins rather than repent of them have left the door unlocked for the enemy to enter & destroy, but those who walk in the light as Jesus is in the light leave Satan with no point of attack. Satan is watching, but his voyeurism is in vain when all that he sees is a life lived according to God’s Word.
God is watching, and He sees the Christian’s works. God sees all: “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:13). God sees every act of men’s hands (Proverbs 5:21). God knows every thought of men’s hearts (Proverbs 21:2). This fact should motivate faithfulness out of fear, out of love, & out of assurance.
God’s omniscience gives men a reason to fear because He Who knows all is also the Judge of all: “…His eyes behold, His eyelids try, the children of men” (Psalm 11:4). Through our works we confess or deny the Lord (Matthew 10:32-33; Titus 1:15-16). Those whose works deny the Lord are judged by those very works: “…they were judged every man according to their works” (Revelation 20:13). The righteous Judge will judge in righteousness and will render a righteous judgment (2 Timothy 4:8; Acts 17:31; John 7:24). No secrets will remain hidden (Romans 2:16). Ought this not induce us to live holy lives (1 Peter 1:13-17)?
God’s omniscience can motivate faithfulness through fear, but God’s people should not make the mistake of perceiving God as a heavenly security camera intent solely upon gathering evidence for a conviction. God’s all-seeing eye beholds not only evil, but also good: “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding both the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3). When God sees men living that which He defines as good, He sees man’s love for Him. God desires to be loved (Matthew 22:37). His omniscience gives Christians the opportunity to show God their love for Him every minute of every day. This is done through obedience: “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Rather than think of God’s limitless perception in terms of George Orwell’s fictional slogan, “Big Brother is watching,” let’s view God’s infinite awareness as a perpetual opportunity to say, “God, I thank you & I love you,” by presenting ourselves as a living sacrifice for God (Romans 12:1).
God’s endless acuity also provides another blessing: assurance. God knows the number of hairs on every head (Matthew 10:30), & He sees the needs of every stomach (Matthew 6:32-33). He has promised to meet His children’s needs, & His boundless sight enables Him to know & to provide every need. Let us ever remember the difference between a want and a need, & if God refuses to provide something, then the Christian must not need it. God’s boundless knowledge also enables Him to provide protection. His knowledge of every man’s heart enables Him to know every man’s temptation (Acts 1:24; James 1:13-15). Unlike Satan, who seeks to exploit men’s weakness, God provides a way to escape every trial & every temptation that His children face (1 Corinthians 10:13); it is simply up to each individual to take the escape that God provides.
Christians are being watched by God, a fact that ought to instill a sense of fear in the unfaithful, a sense of opportunity for the grateful, & a sense of assurance for the faithful through the knowledge that God’s perception is connected to His provisions & His protection.
Christians, someone is always watching our lives. People see the Christian’s example; living faithfully gives them an example worth following. Satan seeks weakness; living faithfully leaves him with no plan of attack. God sees everything; living faithfully enables the child of God to stand confidently in the judgment, to show love to God, & to trust in the assurance that God provides to His children. We are being watched: let’s be something worth watching.