Walking in Accountability
For much of my time as a believer, I made a conscious effort to pursue after the Lord by myself. This doesn’t mean that I wasn’t attending church or Bible studies, but it does mean that there were aspects of my walk with Jesus that I was dangerously attempting in isolation. During my senior year of high school, God blessed me with a group of friends that not only studied the Word together, but kept each another accountable to daily Scripture reading. Throughout this time, God gave this community a desire to expand that accountability. It began to grow in other areas such as personal holiness. By loving each other despite our sin, we reflected God’s love for his people. Tim Keller writes in The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God,
To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.
As believers, we have been designed for community. Without it, we are far more susceptible to the desires of the flesh, and far less encouraged in our pursuit of a deeper relationship with the Lord. This is what makes accountability so important.
If you do not have a community of friends around you that act as an accountability group, reach out to your church. If you do not have a church, please contact us for resources on finding gospel-preaching churches in your area.
Once you have a small group of friends, begin meeting together for Bible study and prayer while you consider how you might commit yourselves to one another and to the Lord. Since arriving to college, the Lord has opened up so many doors for deeper accountability with fellow brothers in Christ. Shortly after arriving on campus, the Lord allowed me to meet a group of other freshmen who were passionate about the gospel and had a similar desire to see the Lord change and mold us through accountability. A few weeks into college, my friends and I began meeting in dorm rooms as we studied the Scriptures, prayed for one another, and encouraged each other. As time went on and we grew comfortable with one another, and each person committed to walking in accountability in both Scripture reading and personal holiness. I watched this community develop and see the Lord move as nineteen year-old men confessed their sins to one another, prayed for one another, and encouraged one another with the truths of the gospel.
The first night that this happened was one of my favorite nights of college thus far, because I remember leaving with a zeal for the Lord and a heart full of gratitude. As time has gone on, we have begun to keep one another accountable in other areas as well. In this concise article, I will address a few of the ways that you can walk in accountability with one another.
Scripture Reading (2 Timothy 3:16)
Charles Spurgeon once said, “Nobody ever outgrows Scripture; the book widens and deepens with our years.” Daily Scripture reading is one of the most important spiritual disciplines for Christians. At first, it can be difficult and even scary to approach Scripture, but the benefits that come as a result of faithful devotion to the Word each day are innumerable.
There are many places within the Scriptures that command the reading of Scripture. In Psalm 1, the Psalmist describes a stark contrast between the man who seeks counsel from the world and the man whose “delight is in the law of the Lord.” The latter is known by his meditation on the law day and night while the former is known by his destruction. In Matthew 4:4, Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 8:3 saying, that “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” As Christians, it is clear that we have been called to commit ourselves to reading and delighting in the scriptures.
Prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
There are many similarities between our commitment to prayer and Scripture reading. In the same way that Scripture reading is foundational to our Christian walk, prayer fosters spiritual growth and fuels our desire for personal holiness and evangelism. Both of these spiritual disciplines are ways in which we interact and grow in our knowledge of the Father. In fact, Scripture reading and prayer are dependent on one another. Scripture reading informs our understanding of the God to whom we pray to and prayer illuminates and helps us understand the Word that we read. Committing to seek God in daily prayer can seem difficult, but the rewards of growth and joy that come as a result remind us why we pray.
I would encourage you to consider praying each day for specific people in your life, for your school or workplace, non-believers in your community and for believers across the world. Prayer is powerful, not because of the person praying but because the God who we are praying to. In the words of The Valley of Vision, “Let me know that the work of prayer is to bring my will to thine, and that without this it is folly to pray.” The purpose of prayer is not that God’s will would be conformed to ours, but that our will would be conformed to God’s.
Personal Holiness (1 Peter 1:16)
As we approach, perhaps, the most stereotypical spiritual discipline, we must be reminded that personal holiness is not limited to merely avoiding lustful actions. Personal holiness is putting our joy in the Creator rather than in created things, including ourselves. I believe that at the root of all of our sin is unbelief. When we sin, we are displaying a lack of belief that Jesus is better. Austin Stone Church put it well in their song, “Jesus is Better” when they wrote:
In all my sorrows, Jesus is better – make my heart believe
In all my victories, Jesus is better – make my heart believe
Than any comfort, Jesus is better – make my heart believe
More than all riches, Jesus is better – make my heart believe
Our souls declaring, Jesus is better – make my heart believe
Our song eternal, Jesus is better – make my heart believe
James 5:16 says, “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.” As Christians living in accountability, we must confess our sins to one another when we fall short and meet each other with grace as the Father greets us. Admitting that you have fallen short and praying that the Lord would lead you to kill this sin is an essential part of walking in personal holiness accountability.
We kill sin because we believe that Jesus is better. We kill sin because we want to place our joy in the finished work of Christ. We kill sin because we know if we don’t it will kill us, as John Owen famously argued. All of this is done not out of a desire to earn the approval of God, but out of an understanding that while we could never earn His approval, in his grace God provided a substitutionary atonement for us. Our understanding of God, as revealed by the Scriptures and strengthened through our faithfulness to prayer, leads us to kill sin.
Evangelism (Matthew 28:19)
In light of all of this, we should be passionate about seeing others “glorify God and enjoy him forever.” This means that we must share what the Lord has done in our lives and declare his atoning work. Psalm 107:2 says, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble.” God, through his Scriptures, has commanded the people of God to make known the work of God. As believers, we can wrongly assert that the call to fulfill the Great Commission is only for mission trips and only applies to one week out of the year, but in fact, God has called us to live on mission. He has called us to share the gospel with the homeless man on the street, the co-worker in the office, the student in the dorms, and the non-believing family member in the home.
God has called his people to declare the gospel. The easiest way to do this is by fulfilling Psalm 107 and declaring what the Lord has done in your life. We should regularly practice articulating and sharing the gospel through our testimony. This is something that could be implemented into your Bible studies or could be practiced in another time. Maybe even consider going out to evangelize with your small group. We have been redeemed by this gospel and it would be foolish to keep it to ourselves. We need accountability to aid us as we fight both the fear and laziness that is so prevalent among us.
All of these spiritual disciplines are connected. Scripture reading and prayer are the fuel that propels us to fight sin and to share the gospel with others. May God lead us and give us the desire to walk in accountability with one another so that we might love him even more and may he remind us of his great love for us. We will stumble and we will fall, but his grace is sufficient in our weakness. In the words of Matt Chandler, “You can’t out sin the cross of Christ.” May we rejoice in that truth as we reflect upon the love of God displayed through the cross.