What is ‘accountability?’

Why do we need accountability?

Is accountability even biblical? If so, what does biblical accountability even look like?

Practically, how do we do accountability?

Accountability…for what?

My story:

I have been in an accountability (“Brothers’ Keeper“) group through my church for over two years now. We originally started with three guys and last year added #4 and a few months ago #5. In the two years we have been meeting, we have treated each other with ‘kid gloves’: most of our meeting times would be more appropriately described as guys reviewing their week including work, family, leisure, personal and ministry punctuated with bits of prayer and in-depth transparency concerning failures regarding sin.

If you can tell a lot about a Christian by looking at his checkbook, the same (or more telling) can be said about his time. Typically, we would meet Thursdays from 9:00 pm — 11:00 pm-ish and this is how those two to 2-1/2 hours would shake out: 1-1/2 hours of review/catching up, 1/2 hour (maybe) of transparent, personal self-exposure and closing [re: 5 minutes] of prayer.


Last week, the ice finally broke. With the recent trials in our church where hidden sin has been exposed and the process of repentance and restitution is a showing to be a long, hard [and public] road, hearts are changing. As one elder has quoted Lewis, “Aslan is on the move:” God is not only not surprised by this, but he has foreordained it.

Other stories are similar [post][comments].

God is not only moving in the heart of my once-pastor, but within the broader congregation, as well. (That includes “us guys.”)

Why? Well, according to Merriam-Webster, accountability is “an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to [explaining one’s conduct for] one’s actions.” When it comes down to it, we are accountable to God for our sin; we are also weak in our own nature and therefore need help from other like-minded believers to stay clean from the filth of sin.

Sin’s Nature

Sin will not remain secret. The greatest lie if the Evil One is really legion: personal sin doesn’t really harm anyone else; secret sin will never be found out; secret sin doesn’t affect all/any areas of my life; this single act or pattern of sin doesn’t matter; that ‘thing’ is really not a big deal — heck, it can hardly be called ‘sin’; etc.

Here is a [partial] biblical response (not partial-biblical, but a partial-response):

What is done in private, will be revealed in public (re: great reversal)

  • According to Numbers 32:23, “…you have sinned against the Lord, and be sure your sin will find you out. Your sin will find you; it will expose you.
  • For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.” (Luke 8:17)
  • Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, “”When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’”” Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:7-11)

Sin prefers darkness, secrecy and silence (re: cockroaches)

  • And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been carried out in God.” (John 3:19-21)

Sin = Death (re: dead)

  • “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
  • “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1:14,15)

People who look sinless in public are really just proud hypocrites (re: Pharisees)

  • …Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness...” (Matthew 23:1-36)

We will be held accountable before God for our sin (re: judgement)

  •  Non-believers will be judged for their sin. “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:11-15)
  • Believers will be judged for their sin. “…each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:13-14)

Next post I will find out if accountability is even biblical and if so, what it looks like.