Does Accountability Work?

I’m reading Jim McNeely ‘s brilliant book at the moment – ‘The Romance of Grace.’

If you want to grasp the wonder of God’s amazing grace – read it now!

One sentence I read this morning rang a bell for me. He states:

“… the one thing that has brought about sustained transformation to my life is the understanding of God’s amazing and undeserved love for me. All the accountability partners in the world did nothing for me but tempt me to lie.”

As for me, I’ve been a Christian 17 years.

Over the years I’ve had accountability partners and I’ve attended an accountability group.

Now, I’m not saying they don’t have their place.

In fact having someone – a friend, a counselor, an accountability partner to be honest and open with can be extremely helpful – even essential.

A listening ear.

Someone who we can be honest with about our daily struggles. Someone who we can talk about the deep things with. Someone who’s not going to preach to us, judge us, or give us unwanted advice. For me, having men like that in my life has been invaluable and I’m sure a great contributor to my healing.

NOTE TO ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNERS: Please just listen! Don’t reprove. Don’t rebuke. It’s hard enough plucking up the courage to ‘confess’ our deepest issues to someone – without being lectured on the laws of Leviticus then bashed on the head with a twelve ton, hard back bible.

I’ve experienced that, too.

But I stray.

An accountability partner – someone to ‘tell it like it is’ to, someone who you can be completely truthful with without fear of condemnation – can be extremely valuable.

As James says:

Confess your sins to each other.

– James 5:16.

OK. So what’s my point? And why does Jim McNeely dismiss accountability as being powerless to transform us?

Because usually what happens is this:

First, a group comes together. Then, everyone states the ‘sins’ they have committed that week. Next, they pray and say sorry to God. Finally, they ask God for forgiveness.

What’s wrong with that? I hear you say.

OK. Here’s what’s wrong with it.

3 things:

1. God already knows. 

The word ‘confess’ in Greek (homologos) meant ‘say the same’ or ‘agree.’ So when we tell God our ‘sins’ we are not really ‘confessing’ in the way the New Testament writers used the word. When we ‘confess’ we are simply telling God something He already knows.

2. God has already forgiven us.

The book of Hebrews tell us that Christ did away with sin once for all.

And Paul says:

In Him we have redemption through His blood – the forgiveness of sins.

– Ephesians 1:7

3. We are already perfect in God’s eyes.

Again, the wonderful book of Hebrews tells us that we have been made perfect by Christ’s sacrifice.

By one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who have been made holy.

– Hebrews 10:14

Nothing we do can change our perfect status in Christ. No amount of messing up. No amount of sin. Why? Because He has made us perfect. God knew we couldn’t make ourselves perfect with all the will in the world. He knew we could never live up to His moral standard. So, through Christ, He gave us His righteouness as a free gift.

This is why Paul is so shocked and surprised:

Not having a righteousness of my own that comes from obeying the law, but that which is through faith in Christ. A righteousness that comes from God and is by faith!

– Philippians 3:9

Isaiah also knew of this righteousness.

I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my God for He has dressed me in garments of salvation. He has draped me in a robe of His righteousness.

– Isaiah 61:10

Isaiah and Paul had both had revelations of God’s grace.

And if you have too, you are blessed and, I’ll bet, also shocked like Paul. And like Isaiah, overwhelmed with joy.

So, accountability people, by all means confess your sins to one another. This is a good thing. Make sure you are confessing to someone you trust. And be careful who you trust, for:

A wise man is cautious in friendship.

– Proverns 12:26

So, in conclusion, to answer the question this article poses – does accountability work?

Sure it does.

But let’s not use it as a Christian ‘bar of soap.’

Let’s use it to learn to be open and honest with our friends and loved ones.

And then let’s rejoice that Jesus has cleansed us and forgiven us once for all.

Though your sins be as scarlet you shall be white as snow.

– Isaiah 1:18

And let’s rejoice, like Isaiah, that we have been draped in a robe of His righteousness!

I’ll say it again, rejoice!


Steve Edwards


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s