The Spiritual Discipline of Accountability
The Spiritual Discipline of Accountability (5.1.21)
What is accountability? Accountability is the act of being accountable to another. Being accountable means you explain or expose what you did and why you did it. Being accountable means you have given full access of your life to another person. The key to accountability is that you are open and honest with someone.
It is important that we understand that this is something in our sin that we do not like to do at all. The last thing our flesh wants is to be accountable to others. Our flesh says, “I don’t care what anyone else thinks. I am going to do this my way.” Now, you may not have this attitude with everything in your life, but the problem arises when you are not accountable with certain things—things you don’t want exposed—you slip into compromise and addiction and adultery and cheating and so many other forms of sin.
God has blessed us (the body of Christ), in His mercy, to redeem us from our sin unto a lifestyle of accountability. What this means is we enter into a lifestyle that is counter-cultural to our sinful preference, which is to be left alone. For the sake of the glory and name of Jesus we highly value accountability because it protects us from falling into sin and/or hidden God-belittling habits, and it helps us keep our affections centered on Christ and all that He has for us.
There are many aspects of accountability that the Scriptures instruct us.
1. Being Accountable to God
Romans 14:11-12 for it is written, "As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God." So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
No matter what you think about God, you will one day bow before Him!
You won’t stand before Him. Why? Because He is God and, in that moment, you will realize how little you made of Him as you encounter His amazing presence. One day, every person will give an account for their life before the living God. This is the most underestimated event that we will ever experience.
People love to speak of how they plan to show God the good they did in this life or that they will reason with Him. Oh, how mistaken we are. This is because in God’s perfection, His justice and judgment are upheld in every way. God will not be reasoned with. He will judge each person to the finest detail.
God will judge every human being that has ever lived.
Proverbs 29:26 (KJB) Many seek the ruler's favor; but every man's judgment cometh from the Lord.
Hebrews 9:27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment
For those who don’t trust Jesus with their lives, this should be the most serious and fearful event of their existence. For those of us who do trust in Jesus with our lives, we praise God for the gospel which pardons us from the deserved punishment our sin is due us.
1 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
Colossians 2:13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses
For anyone who is unsaved and reading this, there is no greater priority in your life than to recognize your standing before the living God at His judgment seat.
I implore you to look upon the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and savor what you see, and then praise God for His stopping your spiritual blindness and giving you a heart of repentance and faith.
2. Being Accountable to the Authority of the Word of God
God is specific in not only delivering His word but enduring it unto the command that we are to not only read it, but we are to be accountable to living out what He tells us to do through it.
James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
1 John 2:5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him
How do we know we are in Him? We keep His word! We cannot just hear the word of God and then move on. We must act on it, live it. It must affect us, transform us, and grow us. We are accountable to it.
Listen to the directness of Jesus’ words:
John 14:23-24 Jesus answered him, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.”
Our full and right submission to the authority of God’s word is so serious that the Scriptures give warning for those who don’t submit themselves to it.
Proverbs 13:13 Whoever despises the word brings destruction on himself, but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded.
It is essential that we study, believe in, abide in, teach accurately, and hold to every word of God. The problem is our tendency in the flesh is to submit to the rationale of our human mind instead of the authority of the almighty, eternal God’s holy word. As a result, we form views of who God is or how He acts, or doesn’t act, based more on our personal feelings or logic instead of the divine and perfectly written words He gave us in scripture. This is so dangerous and detrimental.
Instead, we need to take very seriously the words of God and submit to God’s authority and conform to His image and not try to make Him conform to our ideas or will.
Do you want God’s word to change you, conform you into His likeness? I am asking you to take this seriously.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
There is a way to look to the Bible to just itch your ears and make you feel good about yourself and what you know and where you want to go. Or you can submit yourself to it completely.
We are at war with our sin and selfishness and self-reign. We must realize that we are desperate for the authority of God’s word to correct our futile view of God, self, this world, and everything in it. We are desperate for His word to lead us with authority, to be accountable to the word of God.
3. Being Accountable to Our Pastoral Elders
Hebrews 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
The Scriptures clearly command Christians to submit to and honor those that God puts over them to lead them.
This is an important area for the modern church to hear and act on. It doesn’t say, “Obey and submit only when it is in line with what you want.” It says, “Obey and submit to those God has put over you.”
Now, the question is: who has God put over you? Are you joyfully and faithfully submitting to the authority that God has given them in your life? Are you accountable to them?
4. Being Accountable to Our Christian Brothers/Sisters
Galatians 6:1-2 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.
If your brother or sister in Christ has done something contrary to the Bible, you are called to stand by and just watch him struggle because you don’t want to get messy, too. No! That is not what it says. It says to confront him gently, forgive him, comfort him and to hold him accountable.
James 5:16 Therefore, 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 are three things to highlight:
One, the privilege of bearing the burdens of your brothers and sisters.
God’s design is that every believer has a community of people around whereby they know each other and are committed to carrying each other’s burdens. When one mourns, we all mourn. When one rejoices, we all rejoice!
Two, the privilege of inviting each other to be held accountable.
The body of Christ is thriving when Christians are willing to engage one another over sin and are also willing to be engaged. We need to be men and women who, if we see our brother or sister struggling in sin, engage them. “Hey, I love you, so, what are you doing? What is this?”
We also need to be quick to invite this kind of accountability in—not just when we are called on it, but when we are doing well. You need to be inviting others around you and into your life so they can hold you accountable to not fall into sin.
Three, we should love to be confronted. Why? Because it is an act of love!
Christian accountability is inviting others into your life in such a way that they know you and your struggles, to the point they can walk with you as you seek to press into Christ and honor Him with your life.
Christian accountability is not someone asking you questions on a weekly basis and you simply answering them. This is a false sense of accountability. True accountability doesn’t need to ask—they know, because they have been invited all the way in and they know where you are.
Do you invite others around you into your life? Who is this in your life right now? Are you open with them, honest with them, and truly accountable to them?
This is an open-handed, humble approach to life. Sin doesn’t have a lot of room to fester in this kind of environment. But, when we run solo, when we pull back, when we are kind of connected and not very accountable, sin has room to reign in our lives.
Please do not be guilty of making excuses for why you will not take on the practice of Christian accountability.
Are you guilty of thinking nobody else understands you and so you convince yourself that no one can help?
Are you guilty of thinking the consequences of exposing yourself and your sin struggles to others will cost too much? If so, you must stop and see the deception of the enemy you are believing to think that just continuing to do it on your own will produce a better product or somehow you will find your own way out of it. I pray this week’s reading and this study is a catalyst to taking action and beginning a real practice of this important discipline. No more excuses. No more delay!
Brothers and sisters, may we be joyful and faithful to practice accountability as a true and lasting discipline of our Christian life. May God be honored as we fight sin, lean into each other, and obey His word and the shepherd-leaders He has put over us.
What action steps do you need to take as a result of today’s study?
By His grace and for His glory,
Joshua “Shepherd” Kirstine
Soldiers For Jesus MC