Christian, are you willing to be challenged through accountability?
Do you believe it’s safe to walk through your Christian journey without being submitted to the word of God . . . . . and accountable to the family of God? If you said YES let me caution you that you are on slippery ground. If you said NO and yet have no network of accountability built into your life, you better watch your step too. I am well aware that among the roles of the Holy Spirit he is to make us aware of our sin and to provide counsel and that the word of God is loaded with warnings. But no matter how many hours you spend by yourself in the word, if you do not have someone who you encourage to tap you on the shoulder when necessary and question your course, you are naïve and careless with respect to the wiles of the enemy, your flesh and the pull of the world system.
I know this may sound severe to some of you. If it does, then you probably have more need to pay heed to these warnings than for those who accept it. (“He who has ears, let him hear”) We were treated last week to an excellent sermon challenge on the 4 soils Jesus describes in Matthew 13. As “good” Christians, we lean into seeing our hearts as the “good” soil where much fruit is borne. (It feels much better to claim that designation for ourselves. Is that how God sees us?) I’m not in any way advocating a “works” mindset where we twist Jesus’ teachings into some kind of “quid pro quo,” but there is absolutely no doubt Jesus is serious about our following his word and example, not just nodding assent. “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22)
Admittedly, there may be times for many of us where our “abiding” or walk with Christ is not as close as we want it to be. The “soil” of our heart may not be consistently fertile. We get distracted by worries, sin, attractions of the world system, spiritual complacency, deception, and we can lose the power and security of our “God connection.” We can vacillate in our affection towards God. “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” (1 Jn. 1:6) We need to be aware how and when and why this happens to us. The “world” as well as our associations can have a tremendous pull on us, and it can be so subtle and attractive we don’t notice the quality of our Christian life being seduced and marginalized. This is like the “frog in the kettle” metaphor. “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.” (1 Jn. 2:15-16)
Since the cross is historically behind us, there is nothing more Jesus can do to demonstrate his magnificence and passionate love for us other than to invite us to experience him daily. As said in the recent message, “We come to Jesus for Jesus.” He is the prize, the reward of our faith, and we are able to enjoy and appreciate him more and more as we trust him in our lives to be who he says he will be in our life journeys. Jesus wants us to be as passionate for him as he was and is for us. He warns us that he detests “lukewarm” faith. He can engage with hot or cold faith, but those “lukewarm” are both comfortable and content where they are and may be deceived about their eternal security. Speaking to the Laodicean church (Rev. 3:15-16), Jesus warns “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” That should be a sufficient wake up call for anyone to assess their “temperature.”
Legalism is not the path Jesus leads us towards. It is the path of love that conforms us to his image and bends our will to his in obedience. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (Jn. 14:15) We are not given the option to “cherry pick” which commands suit us and lead us to obey. God wants us aligned with him for our personal good and for his glory. We will certainly not always get it right and walk our paths perfectly. But what is the attitude of your heart? Do you have a strong desire to know God by following him closely, conforming to his will, obeying his commands?
Many “believers” still desire to chart their own path, sit on the throne of their lives as the sovereign. Caution! God is clear about this as well, and our obedience is a barometer God reads to determine our seriousness about the quality of our relationship with him. “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” (1 Jn. 2:3-6)
“The heart is deceitful above all things,” say Jeremiah 17:9. This is an Old Testament truth that should still alarm us about the potential condition of the new heart (Ez. 36:26) God has given us in redeeming us. We are more than capable of deceiving ourselves. The heart of “good” soil is not perfect nor without potential defect. It is not immune to deception, temptation or sin. But the one who possesses this type of heart eagerly pursues and anticipates the “seed” God sows and desires to be possessed by the sower, producing the fruit of righteousness, always in season. Are you yielded to the word (seed) of God and do you find accountability within God’s family? Would it profit you to go before the Lord and in quiet surrender ask the Spirit to search your heart, your soil, and amend it with himself? Think About It.