We hear the term “accountability” quite a bit. The basic definition is “to allow oneself or to be in a position to have an account taken of what you do, what you say or who you are; being liable or answerable.” What is accountability within the Christian context? Is it even biblical? One of the best places to go to answer that question is that list we so often refer to as the “one anothers.” As you know, there are 33 distinct “one anothers” in the New Testament. Three in particular relate to Christian accountability.
Hebrews 3:13 says, “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.” Exhort means to urge, advise, or caution earnestly. Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Admonish is similar to exhort but also includes urging to obedience and reminding. Ephesians 5:21 says, “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” These three verses make it clear one of the components of relationships between believers in the local body is accountability. We are to exhort, admonish, and submit.
Exhortation and admonishing are not possible unless I have an accountable relationship with another believer or group of believers. Unless I submit and open myself up, allowing myself to be advised, cautioned, reminded and urged to obedience, accountability won’t happen. This is quite a challenge since it requires me to be open for comment about all areas of my life. It requires a recognition of my sin, humility and a desire to be sanctified. But don’t allow these one anothers to stand alone. They are to be obeyed within the larger context of the New Testament instruction about love found in 1 Corinthians 13, John 13:34-35, John 15:12, and many others plus 1 Thessalonians 5:14. All accountability should be done with the purpose of progressive sanctification of the believer and the ultimate glory of God.
If you are someone who resists Christian accountability, pray through Psalm 139. A resistance to accountability can be a sign of sin in one’s life, especially pride. God has given us the local body as a means of grace. We need each other and we need the local body in order to be accountable to God.
How can we accomplish accountability within the local body? Know God’s Word. Know or get to know people in our local body. Fellowship with them. Pray for them. Speak truth from God’s word into their lives. Receive truth from God’s word from them. When someone in the body speaks truth in an area of your life where you are not obedient to God’s word, submit to God and His word. Repeat.