When you think of accountability, most of the time it doesn’t ring true for your thoughts on church life. Well, that could be furthest from the truth. First of all, let’s define the term. Accountability is an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions. You might ask, “What actions? What responsibility?” Exactly! That is the problem with people who call themselves the ‘church’ and don’t have a proper understanding of what being the body of Christ is all about.
A true believer should have several thoughts when it comes to being accountable.
- A true believer in Christ should desire accountability with the rest of the body.
- A true believer in Christ should be a partner for others in this area.
- A true believer in Christ should expect to be held accountable for their lives in all areas, not just ministry.
- A true believer in Christ does not shy away from biblical mandates.
So, are you in the right ‘frame-of-mind’ for this issue? If not, then let’s fix that by using the final authority of scripture to answer what and how accountability is to be in the church and most importantly, why.
Being accountable as believers to each other is a requirement of the changed life. Without someone to ‘view’ us in our living, how will we know for sure if we are even believers? John states in his first epistle, “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.” These are strong, deliberate words that show a true condition by which one will have the full knowledge of their salvation. Notice he did not say, ‘gain’ salvation, but that we ‘know we have come’ to salvation. What is it? It’s obedience. What is that you might ask? It means doing what is required for holy living in Christ.
Obedience is not the means by which we are saved, but it is the primary fruit of a saved life. It doesn’t mean that we are going to never sin or that we are not going to desire to sin, however, a believer does make WAR against this desire and sinful living. If we don’t, we are not true believers. This is where accountability is so important. If one is a believer, then he or she will desire holy living and desire help in the journey.
Accountability also helps us evaluate our focus and gives us a real picture of our motives. If we are to live a life of grace by faith in Christ alone, then our lives must be producing fruit of that change. This is not something that we do but something that God does in us. God is the giver of life and He does the work of regeneration, as Paul states, we are saved by faith not of works so that no one can boast.
So this grace does its work through the power of God and in turn, we see the work of God in our lives. Which is a desire to be like Him! So regularly talking and being open about our journey in Christ performs its duty by making sure our faith is for real and not just head knowledge, but that God has truly made us into a new creation.
Hebrews 3:12-13 (ESV)
12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.
13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
In the end, the purpose of our lives together is to glorify God in all that we do, especially our daily lives. As we live together in this world to do this, we must exhort, encourage, rebuke, teach and plead with each other to run, fight and make war against the sin in our lives. Failure to have the heart to repent shows that the Spirit of God was never truly active but that we, for a moment, just wanted to live better lives in our own power. This is why we must work together for the fight to finish the race. Otherwise we will fall away having never known Christ who is the advocate for our Holiness.
Accountability as a believer with someone gives you the privilege and the power to stay focused on Christ-centered living. We have the ability to be truthful about our struggles, tell someone to pray for us and to pray for others. We are able to see how God is growing us as others will see that fruit way before we do and we will begin to learn that partnership in the body is a sign of health in Christ.
When we practice accountability willingly in our lives, there is never a reason for church-wide discipline or the removal of someone from church membership. It’s only when we turn from truth and being truthful in our lives together that requires the body to purge one from its ranks that sits to uphold the flesh and its desires which is the nature of Satan rather than the nature of the Father which is light!