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Spiritual Disciplines - Confession and Accountability Print E-mail
Spiritual Disciplines

I. Introduction

 Tonight I want us to consider something that is not just a discipline but something that should help us be faithful in our other disciplines, namely confession and accountability.  I am putting these ideas together because I think that they go hand in hand.  Confession refers to us telling others how we have sinned, either by omission or commission.  Accountability is a part of confession.  It involves someone encouraging another person to keep battling their sins (again, sins of omission or commission).  These are disciplines that require another person.  Think of it as a dialog.  One is doing the confession while the other is holding them accountable.  Then, the roles are reversed.  The other person confesses while the other person holds them accountable.  I simply want to answer two questions about these disciplines tonight: why and how.

II.  Why confess and have accountability?

 A.  Because you are commanded to do it.  Look at James 5:16.  We are told to confess our sins not just to God but to one another.  Obviously, we should confess our sins to the Lord, but we should also confess to one another.  I do not think this means that we always have to come before everybody and talk about all our sin (although there are times when the sin is public that our confession needs to be public).  Rather, I think it simply means that we need to find another believer and confess our sins to them and pray for them as they confess and pray for us.

 B.  Because we need each other to point us to Christ.  The Enemy wants us to sin and then wallow in our guilt until we have convinced ourselves that we are no good to Christ and could never be forgotten.  In those moments, we need other believers to remind us that Jesus did not die for our sins so that we could live defeated by the Devil and our sin.  No, we must look to Christ and we need the help of others.  As Jesus told the disciples, our spirits are often willing, but our flesh is often weak.  Thus, we need others to encourage us.

 C.  Because it curbs our desire for sin.  Another trick that the Enemy will use against you is to convince you that no one else will know or find out about your sin.  Unfortunately, in terms of other people, he may be right at least for a time.  And when we think that we can ‘get away with it’ we are often tempted even more to sin.  Yet, when we are committed to confession and accountability, then it becomes a whole lot harder to ‘get away with it.’ 

 D.  Because it humbles us.  It is difficult to look another person in the eye and confess your lust, or your pride, or your anger, or your laziness.  It reminds us of our desperate need for Christ and encourages us to want to flee from sin (see above).

 E.  Because it is modeled to us in the Scriptures.  How do we know about David’s terrible sin with Bathsheba?  We know because he confessed it to Nathan (2 Samuel 12) and the rest of Israel (see Psalm 51).  The Israelites confessed their sins after the Exile (Nehemiah 9).  The people who were baptized by John in the Jordan confessed their sins (Matthew 3:6).  The Ephesians confessed their sins while Paul was in Ephesus (Acts 19:18).  Paul consistently confessed his sins of persecuting the Church (Acts 22:3-5, Galatians 1:13-14, Philippians 3:6).  Thus, confession is clearly modeled to us in Scripture.

III.  How should we confess and have accountability?

 A.  Choose 1 or 2 people that you feel comfortable confessing to
 B.  Set a time to meet (weekly if possible)
 C.  Develop some questions that deal with your sins and disciplines
 D.  Meet regularly, ask the questions, pray for each other, point each other to the gospel
 E.  Other?

IV.  Conclusion

 We are not all that good at opening up and becoming vulnerable to others.  We are tempted to think that we can deal with our spiritual issues.  We are busy.  The list of reasons that we will struggle with this discipline could go on, but we need to see its importance and being to confess our sins and hold each other accountable.  One of the means that God has given us to defeat sin in our life (including the sin of not disciplining ourselves spiritually) is confession and accountability.  So develop a plan, do the plan, and evaluate the plan for confessing your sins and holding others accountable.  Amen.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 03 September 2008 )

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