biblical accountability
June 20, 2024

Biblical Accountability and Spiritual Fruitfulness

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Merriam Webster’s definition of accountability is “the quality or state of being accountable.”

This leads us to face a heavy reality: we are all accountable to God. He sees our sin—our falling short in obedience to him. King Solomon writes to the sexual sinner to warn him that no one can escape the eyes of God (Prov. 5:20–23). Our Creator sees all we do and knows every thought and desire in our hearts (1 Sam. 16:7; Heb. 4:12). Biblical accountability means we cannot escape accountability before God.

Biblical Accountability and Condemnation

However, under sin’s deception, we try to hide. Like Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, we seek to flee from our Creator (Gen. 3:10).

Sexual sin builds on the lie that we can hide, ensnaring us in loneliness. “Recent scholarship,” according to the Institute for Family Studies, “suggests that pornography’s sexual scripts of eroticism, objectification, promiscuity, and misogyny (domination) are, on their face, fundamentally anti-relationship and anti-attachment and ‘conceptually linked to loneliness.’”

Sexual sin puts us in the cage of isolation. We selfishly sin and deceive ourselves, thinking that if we hide thoroughly enough from God and others, our selfishness doesn’t impact these relationships. We think we can escape accountability, but our hiding further destroys and condemns us before God who sees and knows all. Our loneliness grows, and our just God always holds us accountable.

But there’s hope. Praise God for the truth and love found in Christ that transforms biblical accountability from something to fear, hide from, and despise into something to desire.

Biblical Accountability and Our High Calling

The reason we, as redeemed Christians, can and should desire accountability in our lives is exciting! Listen up! Be on the edge of your seat!

We have the privilege of being held accountable to a lofty, glorious calling.

How often do you think of your redeemed and justified life as the unfolding of a secured high and glorious calling with your name etched into its magnificence? 

Listen to how the Apostle Paul describes this sacred calling:

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Phil. 2:12–13)

The King of Kings and Lord of Lords—by his own good pleasure, through grace and mercy—has ransomed you for your salvation. Now, God says that as a member of his royal family, you have the power through his Spirit to flourish. To push back the powers of darkness and death by obeying him and walking in his ways to spread life and love. He calls to you: Live it out, my beloved new creation! This is the good pleasure of God for your life.

Biblical accountability is desirable—it is for our joyful thriving and fruitful abundance in Christ.

Amazing! This grace—the free, unmerited gift of the gospel championed for us by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ—means that those once lost in bitter darkness, vainly eating the slop of sexual sin unto death, now have a new manifesto for their lives: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). 

In the light of the gospel, accountability is the system we cultivate that keeps us in step with our God-given calling. Biblical accountability is desirable—it is for our joyful thriving and fruitful abundance in Christ.

Biblical Accountability and the Means of Grace

Because of the gospel, accountability is an expression of grace. Paul gives us a beautiful definition of grace-based accountability: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13).

God, the master Gardener, has given you a host of seeds to plant, tend, and cultivate into a blooming garden of fruitful grace in your life—and the sunshine and water of the Spirit makes them grow!

See the blessing here? We are not left to our own devices to keep to the path of right living before God (Matt. 7:13–20). He provides these means to us through what orthodox Christianity calls the “ordinary means of grace.” The Westminster Shorter Catechism defines these means of grace:

Question 88: What are the outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption?

Answer: The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption, are his ordinances, especially the word, sacraments, and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation.

Biblical Accountability and Christ

Too often I see men losing the battle to sexual sin with nowhere to go for accountability because they’ve refused to acknowledge and cultivate the very methods of grace God has set before them. They want God to bend the knee to their thoughts on how to fight sin instead of submitting with gratitude to God’s generous provision—provision that’s theirs for the taking! This crushes my heart every time.

You have all you need in God’s provision of grace—ultimately, in Christ himself—to endure and flee from every assault of the enemy.

Are you seeking true, biblical accountability? Then ask yourself these questions: 

  • Are you consistently in corporate and private prayer and Scripture reading?
  • Are you committed under membership to weekly sitting under the shepherding and authority of your pastor and walking in one-another discipleship within the community of your local church?
  • Is the power of the gospel a consistent consideration in your life? Are you continually reminded of it through seeing the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ pictured in baptism and communion?

Is the discipline of participating in these means of grace growing in your life? When the world, the flesh, and the devil knock at your heart’s door with temptation and sin in hand, the Spirit uses the carefully built trellis of these disciplines to support you.

Through systematically building the habit of these basic, ordinary practices, God’s power is at work in you to make Christ Jesus ever-present before your heart. You have all you need in God’s provision of grace—ultimately, in Christ himself—to endure and flee from every assault of the enemy. Embrace the Christ-centered grace of biblical accountability, knowing that your Father uses these means to grow spiritual fruitfulness in your life.

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Keith Seary

Men's Ministry Staff

Keith Seary is on the Men’s Ministry staff at Harvest USA. Keith has a BA in biblical counseling from The Master’s University, which he uses at Harvest USA in facilitating biblical support groups, seminars, church equipping, and one-on-one discipleship. He is currently a member of Immanuel Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Bellmawr, New Jersey.

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