Prayer For Accountability in Our Christian Life
Why I Don’t Believe in Christian Accountability
Share on Share on Pinterest
I am deeply committed to all of us living a life of radical integrity and grace.
Through People of the Second Chance, I get to work with leaders on personal sustainability and living a life with no regrets. And though I champion the ideas of transparency, authenticity and brutal honesty, I don’t believe in Christian accountability.
The whole concept makes me cringe, and I don’t think I’m alone in this assessment. It’s horribly broken, ineffective and doing a lot of people a disservice. In many ways, Christian accountability is facilitating a pathway to our lives being chopped up by character assassins.
So here are a few reasons why I don’t believe in Christian accountability and why a new discussion needs to happen around maintaining our integrity.
1. Lack of Grace
The primary reason Christian accountability doesn’t work is because we are more interested in justice and fixing a problem. I’ve seen too many times great men and women get chewed up by this process. When we fail, what we need most is grace and a second chance, not a lecture.
We have all probably experienced or seen a harsh response to our struggles or failures. But there is a big problem when we respond with justice and not grace. You see, human beings are wired up for self-protection and survival.
When we see others being hurt, rejected or punished for their sin, we correctly conclude that it is better to hide, conceal and fake it in the future. It basically comes down to this: I don’t want to get hurt, so I’m not telling.
When we lack grace, accountability breaks down.
2. Bad Environments
Let me be frank. If I were having an illicit affair with a woman, I’m not going to confess it to four guys at a Denny’s breakfast. And yet, too often, Christian accountability is carried out in these types of environments.
We meet in small groups in a weekly environment with a few of our friends. Ultimately, there is a lid on how transparent these conversations can be, and too often, we believe that if we are meeting weekly then we are “accountable.
My best conversations about my brokenness and struggles have come in non-typical environments. Places where I am completely relaxed, at ease, and feel removed from my daily life.I have seen leaders every year go away for a week and meet with a coach or therapist and have this time be very effective. They dump a ton of junk, begin working strategies in their life and start dealing with significant character issues. To be frank, I would rather have us have one week of brutal honesty than 52 weeks of semi-honesty at Denny’s.
My point is simple. Find an environment that is going to allow you to open up and examine your current process.
Share on Share on Pinterest
I truly believe it is time to reinvent and rethink this very important component of our lives. Over the years, Christian accountability has deformed into a very ugly, uninspiring and broken system.
First off, I want to change the word from “accountability” to “advocacy.” If we are going to redefine a process and introduce a new concept, I think it needs a new word. The word I use in this context with fellow friends and leaders is advocacy. The term can be described as active support, intercession, or pleading and arguing in favor of someone.
So let’s take a look at what advocacy means.
Radical Grace Is the Foundation
Radical grace is the core engine for any healthy relationship. You can not have true transparency or confession without it. I encourage people to make verbal commitments to each other and clearly state that they will stand by one another through the best AND the worst.
Most people live with the fear of rejection and allow this fear to dictate how honest they will be with others. In advocacy, we are constantly demonstrating that this relationship is a safe place. Through our response to one another’s failures, our own deep confession and reminding each other that we are in this for the long haul, we implement radical grace.
Advocacy focuses on the “yes,” not the “no.” Too often, typical Christian accountability revolves around long lists of what NOT to do. We spend way too much time discussing and managing the sin.
Often, we lock onto the most minor unhealthy behaviors and think that’s going to prepare us for success in life.
Unfortunately, we operate on the faulty assumption that working on the symptoms will address the core problem. Bad idea!!!
Advocacy spurs us on to the “yes.” It revolves around the crazy good things that we should be engaging in. It pushes us to live a life of positive risks, creativity, adventure and significance. We rally around each other in this and focus our relationships around this theme.I truly believe a large amount of moral blowouts flow from boredom and dissatisfaction. We become depressed and unsatisfied with our life, career and marriage, and then we enter into dangerous territory. Why? Because we are not focusing on the “Yes!”
I know that in my own life, I become vulnerable when I have lost a sense of mission and purpose. Having an advocate in our life is important in reminding us of our calling.
Share on Share on Pinterest
Unfortunately, the results speak for themselves. If Christian accountability were a company, it would need a serious bailout. It’s simply inadequate, and the results are sub par, at best.
The breaking down of our marriages, financial impropriety, egomaniacal and narcissistic behavior, sexual misconduct, and the bending of every rule we come across are simply signs of a failed system. Last week, I read a post from a pastor who had received emails from 33 other pastors who confessed to him of being involved in an affair.
If I wanted to, I could spend the next decade of my life convincing you how wonderful I am and how I have it all together. (Luckily, I have no desire to do that.) It bothers me that I’m clever enough to package Mike Foster in such a way that I could make you all believe what a swell guy I am and how I have it all together.
The problem with Christian accountability is that you and I can game the system. I know how to beat it, and if you stick around the church long enough, you will figure it out, too. And that’s a problem. We’re the alcoholic that knows where the hidden key to the liquor cabinet is.
Gaming the system is not hard. We know the right words. We know the right things to talk about. We know how to frame things up to effectively keep everyone off course on who we truly are. I can do it, and so can you. And that’s a big problem.
So that’s why I’m not a fan of Christian accountability and truly believe it is busted. But please don’t lose hope. I have something I want to offer up as a replacement to this flawed system of maintaining our integrity.
Share on Share on Pinterest
When people fail or become involved in some scandal, too often we immediately consider the ramifications on the organization or company. I’ve talked to many Christians who are very concerned about when a pastor falls of how this impacts the cause of Christ.
Unfortunately, we place more concern on the damage to the brand of Christianity or the church instead of the fallen individual. I’ve seen horrific and hurtful things happen to people in the name of protecting the organization instead of the fallen person. Quite frankly, that sucks!!!
If you haven’t figured it out by now, Christianity’s brand is failures and wrecked lives. Churches are places with messy people who do stupid things.I’ve certainly made my contribution to this effort with my mistakes. In advocacy, the importance is placed on the individual. It is about people, especially those who are most broken.
The organization, church or company should take a back seat.
Christian accountability often is accomplished in small groups that are too general or with just one person leading, which puts too much responsibility on one individual.
Advocacy embraces having multiple layers of transparency and connection. I have about 10 people who are involved in spurring me on to a life of integrity. They can actively speak into my life, and I will listen and make the necessary tweaks.
However, I have about four people whom I have a deeper connection with and discuss harder things with. I also have more structure with this group. This is what I consider to be the core.
But even beyond the core, I have one friend that has full access. We take complete responsibility for each others’ integrity, purity and sustainability. I refer to this person as my “first call.
” When the crap hits the fan, I call him first.
Each layer moves into a greater level of commitment and advocacy, and each layer has an important role.
Top 7 Bible Verses About Accountability
God will hold us all accountable on the Day of His Visitation so what Bible verses reflect a believer’s accountability? What ones would you include and what about those who reject the gospel?
What is Accountability?
The word accountability means to be held accountable, liable, answerable, or be held responsible for what a person has been given.
This is a combination of several secular definitions of this word and it should get every believers attention for we will all be held accountable before the Lord someday for our actions, for what we did with what we have been given, and for what we didn’t do that we should have done.
Even worse, for those who are not saved, they will be held accountable for the works in this life at the Great White Throne Judgment and since works can never save us, unbelievers will have to pay for their own sins in eternity (Rev 20:11-16) and because they will be “judged according to their works” (Rev 20:12) and no one can be saved by works (Eph 2:8-9) their eternal fate is even hard to imagine. For Christians, they have been judged already since they repented and trusted in Christ and had the imputation of His righteousness credited to their account (2 Cor 5:21). Even so, every believer will be held accountable at Christ’s appearing and so what does the Bible say about a believer’s accountability before the Lord?Paul is writing to Christians here and he just finished asking the Roman Christians, “why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ” (Rom 14:10).
When we judge others we actually show them contempt in the way that they don’t live up to our standards, but their standard and ours is not a human standard but what Christ expects. We will all stand and give an account to Christ for what we have done or not done.
We will owe only Christ an explanation and we don’t owe any human an explanation for our life on this earth.
This verse should be a key verse for every believer because although we are not saved by works, we will be rewarded according to what we did for Jesus Christ while on the earth.
If our works were for our own glory and not for the glory of God then our “work is burned [and we] will suffer loss” even though “[we] will be saved, yet so as through fire” but if we do things for the glory of God alone then we are building our rewards with a foundation that has “gold, silver, precious stones” and our works will come through the fire.
If our good works are only for the purpose of being seen by others and not of Christ, then “wood, hay, straw” they will all be burned up and we will have little or nothing to show for our life while in the body.
Before Jesus spoke these words He gave the Parable of the Talents (Matt 25:14-30) where each one of us is given talents. These include time, treasure, and talents (or gifts or skills). The Lord expects us to use these talents for His glory. If we do not use what we have been given, then what we do have will be taken from us (v.
28a) but if we have used what God has given us for His glory then more will be given to us at His return (v. 28b) so the question will be are we a “wicked and lazy servant” or will Jesus say to you and me “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.
Enter into the joy of your lord” (Matt 25:23)? The answer is up to you and me.The last statistic I heard was that Christians give only about 2% of their income to the Lord and we spend 10 times as much in pet food than we do in giving to our local church for the proclamation of the gospel.
Does this say something about our priorities? Do we esteem the things of God more than those things that we esteem important to us? I understand that these are not verses about tithing but verses about who are we serving. If we are attempting to live for riches then we are making money our god.
Money competes with God in the sense that money can provide for our needs, it can give us what we want, and it gives us security but these things take the place of God because He provides for us, gives us what we need (not always what we want), and He is our security, not money. The “true riches” are in the things that bring glory to God.
If we can’t be faithful in a few things, our money, time, or talents, then how can God expect us to be faithful in the Kingdom of Heaven which will be far, far greater?
Here is what is called a sin of omission.
We all know what sins of commission are and that is why we can come to God and confess them to Him and be forgiven (1 John 1:9) but we are also going to be judged for what we don’t do.
If we see our brother has needs and do nothing about it but say “Brother, I am sorry…I will pray for you” but do nothing to help, then for those who know “to do good” and yet “does not do it” to them it is sin.
This verse actually applies to those who “suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them” (Rom 1:18b-19) but they still refuse to acknowledge that there is a God because “they did not to retain God in their knowledge” (Rom 1:28).
Paul is saying that they knew better…in their hearts they knew that God exists but they suppressed this knowledge and so God gave them up “to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.” (Rom 1:24-25).This speaks of judgment. The more often a person hears the gospel and yet rejects the gospel, the more accountable they will be held because they knew what was required of them and yet refused to do it.
For the one who didn’t know as much about the gospel, the native in the deep, dark recesses of the jungle, they will not have as much required of them. In the U.S.
there is no excuse for those who have not responded to the gospel for they have easy access to it and may have heard the truth of the Word of God expressed many times but have never responded to it. In that case, “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required” and more will be demanded.
I beg you to not turn your back on Christ today for He is the only way a person can be saved (Acts 4:12). The day is coming when it will be too late (Rev 20:11-15; Heb 9:27) so decide today to repent and put your trust in the Savior so that you will be saved today (2 Cor 6:2) if you are not already saved.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas.
Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon
Seven Laws of Prayer
In nature, everything works according to set laws. It is the same in the spiritual realm: God acts according to laws. So often we get discouraged and believe that prayer is useless when our prayers do not get answered. However, the actual reason is that we have not fulfilled God's laws which are a condition for prayer.
1. The Law of a Pure Heart
“Let us draw near … having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience…” (HEBREWS 10:22). God's first condition is that my heart must be pure. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (PSALM 66:18). What a statement!
In ISAIAH 1:15, God says: “I will hide mine eyes … I will not hear”. Sin in your heart will close God's ear and cut off all communication with Him. It is useless for me to pray when I am carrying a sin on my conscience which I have not yet acknowledged. I might as well get up from my knees if there is anything in my life which I know is contrary to the will of God.
God said to Joshua: “Get thee up … Israel hath sinned … Therefore … Israel could not stand before their enemies … neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you” (JOSHUA 7:10-12).
The Lord told Joshua to stop praying. Why? Because He does not want to communicate with a soul that remains in sin. Repentance and cleansing from sin are essential for fellowship with God.
2. The Law of a Forgiving Spirit
“And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any…” (MARK 11:25). This is a condition for getting your prayers answered.
I fear that the spirit of unforgiveness is more widespread than one would generally notice.
Often you can find it with people who are, outwardly, very sincere, and who take an active part in the work of the Lord; even these people can harbour a spirit of unforgiveness towards somebody else. If we are not prepared to forgive, our prayer will not be acceptable to God.
A forgiving spirit is so essential that the Lord made a drastic statement in Mark: “But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive you your trespasses” (MARK 11:26, MATTHEW 6:15). I will not try to explain this mysterious statement of the Lord.
However, in the light of it, I search my own heart and watch and pray earnestly that I will never be guilty of this horrible sin, and that I will never be subject to this terrible judgment.
3. The Law of the Right Motive
“Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts” (JAMES 4:3).
I can go to God and ask Him for things which are completely in order: e.g. I can ask Him to use the Gospel for the salvation of souls, to let evangelisation prosper, etc.; but if my motive is my own pleasure, my own wealth or the approval of people, my prayer will not be answered.
When I ask God for success in my ministry, can I ask Him with equal sincerity to give my brother the same or even greater success than what I am praying for myself? Can I rejoice when God pours His Spirit out upon another brother or sister and uses them mightily? Can I rejoice as much as though God had used myself? If I cannot do this, my motive for praying is wrong.If my prayer is to be victorious prayer, which guarantees an answer, it is not to be inspired by the desire for selfish pleasure or success.
A proper motive is essential in order to receive an answer to our prayer. And there is only one reason to pray which is right – namely: “That God in all things may be glorified” (1 PETER 4:11; 1 CORINTHIANS 10:31). Is this my motive?
4. The Law of Faith
“Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering…” (JAMES 1:6). Weymouth translates this as: “Let him… have no doubts.” Faith is indispensable if we want to receive answers to our prayers, for “without faith it is impossible to please him” (HEBREWS 11:6). However, when there is faith, God works miracles.
In the Gospel of Mark our Lord gave an amazing promise to the praying soul: “…whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe…
he shall have whatsoever he saith” (MARK 11:23).
How many of us have prayed that the mountains which block the spreading of the Gospel should be removed! Yet, how few of us have seen these mountains being cast into the sea? Why? Because of our unbelief.
5. Pray According to the Will of God
“If we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us” (1 JOHN 5:14). Everything depends on this. First we have to find out God's will, and we have to pray according to this will. Without knowing God's will it is impossible to have faith that moves mountains.
Paul's prayer for the Colossians was that they “might be filled with the knowledge of his will” (COLOSSIANS 1:9). This requires an intimate knowledge of God Himself. How do we get to know the desires of our friends? By talking to them, and by being with them often.
How do we get to know God's will? By five-minute-prayers? No! It is by waiting, waiting, and waiting on God. We cannot get to know the will of God within five minutes, perhaps not even in five hours, and possibly not even in five days.
It is a matter of waiting before God daily, and learning His will for that day.
6. Praying in the Name of Jesus
Jesus said: “If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it” (JOHN 14:14). What a promise!
But what does it mean, to ask in the Name of Jesus? Something much deeper than some people think. It is not a matter of quoting a formula. This cannot achieve a result. A formula can be on our lips, but have no meaning whatsoever.
But what is its meaning then?
An employee goes to the bank to draw money on behalf of his employer by presenting a cheque with the employer's name on it. He receives 1000 dollars. Why? Because the bank clerk knew the employee? No! The employee could not receive the money just by his own efforts; however, if he asks for it in the name of his employer, he will receive the full amount which is written on the cheque.
To ask in the Name of Jesus means to ask for things Jesus would . God will never say no to this: He cannot, because He loves His Son; and when we pray in the Name of Jesus our prayer must be answered, even if it means removing a mountain.
7. Praying in the Holy Spirit
“Praying in the Holy Ghost” (JUDE 20) is the secret of every victorious prayer. It is impossible to ask in faith if we are not controlled and inspired by the Holy Ghost. The Holy Spirit is the only one who can give faith; He is the only one who knows what Jesus wants, the only one who can reveal the will of God.
How can we pray in the Holy Ghost? The secret can be found in GALATIANS 5:25: “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Before we can pray in the Holy Spirit, we must learn to walk in the Spirit; i.e. to live in unbroken fellowship with God, every day and every hour of the day, in fact “moment by moment”.
Only then, once we have learnt to do that, will we always be able to pray with a pure heart, with a forgiving spirit, with the right motive, with unreserved faith, according to the will of God, and in the Name of Jesus. Then, and only then, can we receive answers to our prayers. Then “it shall happen”. Then we will be able to challenge every mountain in the Name of the Lord Jesus.
Provided that we walk in the Spirit, nothing, NOTHING, NOTHING will be impossible to us.
Lord, teach us to pray!
by A. Frank Evans
Source: “Redemption Tidings”
Suggestions for Prayer Meetings
by Tom Palmer — 7 years, 3 months ago
It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer”
- It may be helpful in advance to prepare a basic order for the meeting. However don’t become too structured so that the Holy Spirit is limited.
- Seek to include everyone present without pressuring anyone to be involved in a way not comfortable for them. We certainly don’t want people to be intimidated or embarrassed.
- Be reasonable with time amounts. Do not overextend prayer times to extremes. On the other hand do not allow the clock to limit your prayer time unnecessarily.
- Remember that the purpose of our prayer meetings should be to get people in touch with God. Keep the meeting focused on God.
- Avoid “time-wasting” distractions. Many prayer meetings involve a lot more meeting than prayer.
- Allow prayer requests to be submitted in advance so that a list can be published which saves times normally spent sharing prayer requests.
- Provide writing materials to be used in recording requests and notes.
Include a time of singing a hymn or chorus that addresses the area of praise that is being used. Sing a verse or two at a time to create variety during your praise time.
- These times can be done as a whole group or in small groups. It may even help to have folks write lists or notes as they praise.
- thank God for who He is (list attributes and qualities of God)
- thank God for what He has done (count your blessings)
- thank God for specific answers to prayer
- thank God for your own salvation (people and circumstances God used)
- thank God for specific promises in Scripture and tell Him why they are meaningful to you
- thank God for favorite verses in Scripture and tell Him what they mean in your life
- thank God for specific thoughts in hymns or choruses and then sing a verse of the song after you have thanked God for it
- thank God for lessons He has been teaching you in the last 12 months
- thank God for a person He has used to be a blessing in your life
- thank God for a place He has used to be a help in your life
Occasionally allow people to share a personal testimony with the group to encourage others as we prepare for a time of praise. Keep the testimonies “on target” and don’t lose your focus.
Use variety. Certain times it is best to let people pray alone. Other times it will be good to pray in groups of 2 or 3. With children or teens they may want to pray in one larger group or pair them up with an adult.
- have each person make a “God I Need” list. List specific things that you need from God in your life and then ask Him to meet those needs. Don’t just include physical and material needs. List spiritual needs also.
- pray as families and for families. Take time to pray for each member of your own family and remember specific needs.
- print a list of church needs (make lists of people in each area). Include: outreach ministries, church staff, Sunday School teachers (listed by class), board members, church ministries, shut-in people
- prepare a list of Christian workers and leaders in your area
- prepare a list of Christian schools and colleges
- prepare a list of your college students
- prepare a list of people with physical needs
- prepare a list of people with spiritual needs
- take time to remember government leaders. Prepare lists of local, state, and federal officials. Include the spiritual needs of the nation.
- devote special times to missions and missionaries. Highlight several missionaries and their work. Another good suggestion is to take letters as they come and place them in plastic page folders. Distribute these to people so that each prayer letter is covered each week. Collect them at the end of the prayer meeting to be used again the following week.
Prepare a standard letter that can be signed and sent to people that you are specifically praying for. (ill, Christian leaders, government officials, etc.) Have the church people sign these after the prayer meeting.
- When sharing prayer requests, encourage people to be brief and give only specific details needed so the request can be covered adequately. Discourage stories that last several minutes.
- Use Biblical prayers. (Ps. 51, Eph. 3:14-21, Col. 1:9-12)
- Allow someone to share a request and then have someone pray out loud for it. This can be done for quite a while and a lot of specific requests can be covered.
- When praying for specific topics, allow 5 or 10 minutes for prayer and then have some pray out loud to close that segment of prayer.
5 Reasons Why Christian Accountability Fails
The following is an excerpt from our free e-book, Coming Clean: Overcoming Lust Through Biblical Accountability.
In my previous article, I described the four key building blocks that give shape to our accountability relationships. These building blocks are James 5:16 and Hebrews 10:23-25: meeting together, confession of sin, prayer, and encouragement.
(This is structure of a healthy accountability relationship)
Accountability groups and partners are not magic pills. While accountability plays a crucial role in personal growth and holiness, there are many accountability pitfalls.
Here are five ways accountability often goes bad.
Problem #1: When Accountability Partners Are Absent
Accountability relationships need to be fostered through time together. It is hard to hold one another accountable when partners meet infrequently or sporadically (or not at all).
Often both parties are at fault. We might commit to “holding one another accountable,” but this is something vague, elusive, and undefined. Accountability partners need to have a very clear picture in their minds about what accountability really entails: face-to- face, voice-to-voice conversation.
When accountability partners do not meet in some fashion, the accountability relationship has no foundation. This means confession, prayer, and encouragement are erratic and shaky, at best.
Problem #2: When Accountability Groups Are Programmatic
When we read through the one-anothers of the New Testament, one cannot help but see the organic, family dynamic that is meant to exist in the church.
We are called to an earnest love for one another (1 Peter 1:22), brotherly affection (Romans 12:10), single-minded unity (Romans 15:5), eating together (1 Corinthians 11:33), bearing each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), and having the same care for each other (1 Corinthians 12:25).
But often our approach to accountability is programmatic. We simply don’t have the quality of friendships that are close and spiritually meaningful, so we search for it in forced and sometimes awkward settings.The church, of course, should offer support groups and discipleship models. “Program” is not a four-letter word. But these programs should aim toward something rich and natural.
If meeting together, prayer, confession, and encouragement are the building blocks of accountability, then many of the other one-anothers in the New Testament are the “atmosphere” of the relationship. This should not be an empty, austere structure, but filled with the air of Christian love and friendship. You may be “doing everything right” but it still feels empty and cold.
Problem #3: When Accountability Partners Are Sincerity-Centered
Confession is the central pillar of accountability, but there are a few ways this pillar can be constructed poorly.
The first way confession of sin can go wrong is when it becomes an end in and of itself. This is when we believe confession is the only point of accountability, something we do to put to rest our uneasy consciences and get something off our chests. These kinds of accountability relationships make “getting the secret out” the whole point.
As therapeutic as this might feel—and it is therapeutic—we need to be careful that in our confession of sin we don’t trivialize sin as something that resolves itself with mere sincerity.
Jonathan Dodson, pastor of Austin City Life church, says that one surefire way to ruin your accountability relationship is by making it “a circle of cheap confession by which you obtain cheap peace for your troubled conscience.”
Christians do not believe that pardon from sin comes from merely being honest about sin. Your sincerity wasn’t nailed to a Roman cross for your sins; Christ was. Peace with God comes only by leaning on what Christ has done for us (Romans 5:1). We often mistake the relief of unleashing our secrets with true peace.
Conversation must not stop at confession. The outermost pillars of the accountability relationship call us to prayer and encouragement. After humble confession, we should encourage one another with the assurance of forgiveness promised in the gospel, and we should approach God’s throne of grace in prayer together.
In this way we not only hold one another accountable for our behavior, but we also hold one another accountable for trusting in the gospel for our complete forgiveness.
Problem #4: When Accountability Partners Are Obedience-Centered
The first way the pillar of confession can be built poorly is when we aim at cheap peace. The second way the pillar of confession can be constructed poorly is when the focus is on moral performance.
Some Christian accountability groups are militant about sin—a healthy attitude in its own right. Members want to see others grow in holiness, so this becomes the focus of the group: questions and answers that deal with obedience.
The problem is, mere rule keeping does not itself get to the heart of sin. This is one of the great lessons Paul teaches again and again. Merely knowing the law only aggravates our lusts (Romans 7:7-12), and following rigid ascetic regulations—don’t touch, don’t taste, don’t handle—is “of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh” (Colossians 2:20-23).What we need is a kind of accountability that corrects our natural tendency to focus on ourselves—own own performance or lack of performance—and instead focus on Christ and His obedience in our place.
Don’t turn the pillar of confession into a pedestal—a place where we can prop up the idol of our own obedience. Don’t turn accountability into a narcissistic program of self-improvement.
Accountability relationships this either center our thoughts on a few benchmarks of success that we might happen to be reaching, or force us into hiding because we don’t want to admit how much we are failing to hit the mark.
Problem #5: When Accountability Partners Forget the Gospel
Whether you slide toward being sincerity-centered or obedience-centered, both tendencies have ignored that the gospel is the capstone of accountability.
When we make our groups all about sincere confession with no expectation of change, we trivialize the very sins that were nailed to Jesus on the cross.
When we confess the same sins week after week, say a quick prayer, and go home, we merely highlight the cheap peace we feel from refreshing honesty, and we forget to comfort each other with a testimony of God’s grace of forgiveness.
We forget to challenge each other to fight sin in light of the motivations God provides in His Word.
When we make our groups all about obedience, we only reinforce our tendency to center our identity on our performance. This either drives us to rigid moralism or hiding the evil that lurks in us from others and ourselves.
Either way, these kinds of accountability relationships only reinforce legalism and self-absorption.
This robs us of the joy of building our identity on Christ’s obedience, and we lose an opportunity to speak about the grace of God that trains us to be godly.
This is why the gospel is the capstone of good accountability. Our confessions, prayers, and encouragement should all be done under the canopy of what the gospel promises God’s children.
- Confess your sins in light of the gospel. One aspect of repentance is agreeing with what God says about your sin, labeling your sin as truly sinful, as an affront to His holiness, something that cost Christ his life. Confess your sins to God and others knowing He is faithful and just to forgive you and cleanse you (1 John 1:9).
- Pray together in light of the gospel. The gospel promises both grace to cover our sins (Romans 5:1-2) and grace to empower our obedience (Titus 2:11-14). Approach Christ together asking for this grace (Hebrews 4:16).
- Encourage one another in light of the gospel. Knowing that true internal change happens in our lives as we set our minds and affections on things above—the complete redemption that is coming to us (Colossians 3:1-4)—we should help one another do this. Mining the Scriptures together, we can teach and admonish one another in wisdom (v.16). We can strive together to have more of a foretaste of the holiness we are promised in the age to come.
We need responsive, gospel-driven accountability. As good accountability partners, we need to not only hear an account of our friends’ sins, but give an account of God’s grace—a grace that not only saves us from the guilt of sin, but also from the grip of sin.
DOWNLOAD THE WHOLE BOOK, “COMING CLEAN”