This is a recent message that I gave to a youth fellowship at Grace Bible Church about Christian accountability
Intro: We live in a lonely world in spite of the fact that recent communication technology boasts that loved ones can now be reached with a few clicks of a mouse or dial of a phone. The sad truth remains that it seems implausible that the number of solitary deaths have been on the rise in countries like the UK and Japan in recent years. Alienation, dubbed the “great emotional sickness of our era” by Italian filmmaker Michaelangelo Antonioni, remains a disease that even email, cell phones and online networking has been powerless to remedy. (1)
It seems that in a world that boasts of its connectivity by means of technology it is still a sad truth that people are still lonely and at times die of their loneliness. Which brings onto mind that old saying: “no man is an island.”
I. A Biblical Perspective on Relationships
A. Our relationship with God
In a sense there is a Biblical truth in that statement as we would look back in the beginning we will encounter that story of the Creation where man is its centerpiece and in Eden they were able to fellowship freely with God. Unfortunately, however, man rebelled and did his own thing by believing that the Serpent’s lie in Genesis 3:5 “that man will be as God,” Ultimately, severing our relationship with God and causing sin and death to enter creation.
But God sought to restore that relationship from the very start when He dealt with the Serpent in Gen. 3:5.
Redemptive history as recorded in Scriptures shows us that God dealt with us not only as individuals but also as couples (Adam & Eve, Gen. 3:21); as families (Noah and his family, Gen. 7:1) as tribes (the 12 tribes of Israel); as nations (in the nation of Israel); and as heirs of God’s promise to Abraham (with the Church Gal. 3:7-9).
God interacted with man not only as individuals but as a community that He seeks to restore His broken fellowship with.
Which, eventually materialized in the, ‘Immanuel’, Jesus Christ whom in the Incarnation became one of us, in Christ Jesus. God becoming a man [without ceasing to be God] and living with us (John 1:14); God eating with us ; God experiencing physical hunger like us (Luke 4:2); God crying with us (John 11:35); God experiencing temptation as we did (Heb. 4:15); God dying for us; All because God desires to restore our broken fellowship with Him when sin entered the world. God’s love actualized in a person who gave His all for restoring our broken fellowship with God by being an atoning to sacrifice God in our behalf (Heb. 9:14). (Note: that God restored our relationship with Him by actualizing His love for us in Christ, without undermining His holiness and leaving out Divine justice to our offenses (Heb. 9:22).
This is a relationship with God that we can actually enter but placing our faith alone in Christ whom Himself declares that: “no one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
God was willing to go the distance in order to re-establish our severed relationship with Him, and our only response is to come to Him in faith knowing that we are sinners and that only in Christ we can enter into a relationship with God.
B.Our relationship with one another
We are members of one another Rom.12:9. For most of us who are attending the afternoon service we are familiar with this passage. We are familiar because a series was in fact made that goes around the phrase, ‘one another’. Keeping that in mind I am reminded it was actually the first verse that was studied when the series started.
What does that now mean that we are members of one another?
“Yet to all who received Him to all who believed in His name he has given us the right to become children of God.” John 1:12
As we have discussed earlier God paved the way to enable us in Christ to enter into a relationship with Him. In fact, in the opening chapter of John’s Gospel we are told that through Christ we are given the right to become children of God, by becoming God’s children it follows then that we are now called to enter into God’s family.
Now what does this imply?
It implies that while we are called to a relationship with God through Christ, but also to enter into God’s household whereupon we have our spiritual brothers and sisters. Consider the flow of the Paul’s Gospel narrative in the book of Romans:
The sinfulness of man (Rom. 3:23)
God’s redemptive work in Christ (Rom. 5:19)
God’s gift of salvation for us (Rom. 6:23)
Our identity in Christ (Rom. 8:1, 38-39)
Man’s apt response in light of this gift (Rom. 12:1)
God’ instruction as to how we would conduct our new lives in Christ (Rom. 12-15)
Note that God calls us to offer our lives as living sacrifices to God, Paul then reminds us that ‘we are members of one another’ (Rom. 12:9), which is dealt with in greater detail in 1 Cor. 12:12,27.
In short it is upon after we are called to enter a personal relationship with God we are then also called to enter into a relationship with the body of God that is the church. In a sense, having a personal relationship with God, exhorts, us that we as disciples, of Christ, should be of kindred spirits after our conversion.
Keeping the above thought in mind it means that the church comes only after our personal conversion to Christ. Thus the church is not a means for us to be saved.
The church is the household of God on earth thus we should value our relationship with fellow believers because we are now part of a single body.
In fact God values our assembly as one body by telling us that God is present when people are gathered in His name (lookup verse: whenever two are gathered in my name I am there).
God our relationship within the body so much that he calls us to be reverent in instituting His ordinances such as The Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11: 17-24).
The communion instructs us to be of good standing within the Church before partaking of the elements.
Therefore God seeks us to give such a high value to our relationships with fellow believers. In fact while we are instructed that: “as we have every opportunity to do good to all, we are also given a mandate to do this especially to those who belong the family of believers.” (Gal. 6:10).
II. The call to accountability
If we’d closely look at the context of the abovementioned verse we will see that it deals with an important issue that Paul aspires for the believers in Galatia to grasp.
Galatians 6:1-2 "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." If your fellow believer has done something contrary to the Bible, you are called to confront him gently, forgive him, and comfort him. It also admonishes you to consider yourself because no one is above temptation.
To put it bluntly we are called to look out for each other, by holding one another accountable to each other. In a word we are called to practice accountability.
A. What is accountability?
Accountability is essential for any society to function and Christian accountability is no different. We are all held accountable in one way or another. For example, there are laws to obey and if we fail to be obedient, we may have to suffer the consequences set by the officials who hold us accountable. Accountability is simply being responsible for one's actions.
Accountability involves a willingness to open yourself up and share sensitive or personal information. This is why trust is so imperative. If you sense trust, you are more open to share your innermost thoughts without concern of betrayal.
In the Bible accountability helps to promote biblical controls or checks and balances. It provides the necessary discipline and support needed to see people reach godly goals. While we are all ultimately accountable to God, as stressed in Romans 14:7-12, God has established other levels of accountability to aid us in the matter of control, support, and growth.
Does the Bible speak of Christian accountability? First of all, the Bible says that God holds us accountable. Romans 14:12 says, "So then each of us shall give account of himself to God." This is personal accountability.
Christians are also accountable to one another. In 1 Corinthians chapter 12, we read that Christians are all part of the same body - the body of Christ - and each member needs or belongs to the other. This Scripture suggests the importance of strong accountability between Believers. It is important for every Believer to have at least one other person in which to confide, pray with, listen to, and encourage.
Galatians 6:1-2 gives a helpful principle, "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." If your accountability friend has done something contrary to the Bible, you are called to confront him gently, forgive him, and comfort him. It also admonishes you to consider yourself because no one is above temptation.
Another aspect of Christian accountability is encouraging each other to grow in their spiritual maturity. Hebrews 10:24 says, "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds." 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says to, "encourage one another and build each other up"
"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up" Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
Accountability is necessary because like sheep we tend to go our own way. We are all self-willed. We want to protect our comfort zones and avoid having to deal with certain issues that are important to becoming obedient Christians, which is one of the goals of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20). Making disciples means teaching others to obey the Lord and this is very difficult without some measure of accountability.
C.Why is it important?
God calls us into Christian accountability because He doesn’t want us to live the Christian life alone we need someone there to be with us, to encourage us, to help us in our struggles, to share our joys with us, to cry with us and to confront us when we are not living our lives in accordance with God’s will, because we are all but a community of Pilgrims that God has called towards a heaven-bound journey.
This truth can be seen in the life of the Apostle Paul with Timothy and Titus. If we each had a Timothy or a Titus, someone we are giving ourselves to, someone we are helping to grow, someone we are responsible for and who is responsible to us, certainly we would see a great deal more spiritual maturity and obedience.
Also in the life of Paul and Barnabas. Paul had a Barnabas (a son of encouragement) with whom he could identify. Paul could go to him with problems and discouragement. He was someone with whom he could pray, or from whom he could get counsel, guidance, and encouragement. He was someone to give another viewpoint or perspective. As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
In conclusion let us look back at the article that speaks of how in spite of the technological advances in communication genuine relationships are still hard to find and for the most part a lot of people are still dying out of alienation, still God sought to relate to us first through Christ who sought to restore our relationship with God and through our fellow believers whom God uses to be our travel companions in our Christian walk.
Do we still remember our Bible stories?
Look back and remember those stories and remember how God used a company of people who lived their lives in dependence with one another in order to care for the spiritual being of each other.
Remember how Naomi had Ruth?
David has a best friend in Jonathan.
Moses has a confidant in Aaron.
Peter looked after John Mark.
The Apostles had Christ and later on one another.
Paul had Silas, Timothy, Timothy and Barnabas.
How about you?