by Mark Gebhardt
All the warning signs were there–the gray morning, the weary body, the anger over a brief disagreement with my wife the night before. I should have been on my guard, but what began as an innocent Internet search ended in sin. I looked at images the Lord never meant for me to idolize. And I had been doing so well!
Acknowledging my sin, I sought the Lord’s mercy and grace in confession. I thought of David’s cry in Psalm 32. Through confession of sin, we experience freedom from guilt and protection from our troubles. Refusing to confess makes us miserable and causes our strength to evaporate. I had certainly felt that way enough times!
Yet like many of us, I found confession to God was not enough. If we could handle problems on our own, why would we need programs like Living Waters and ministries like Sought Out? We learned that not only did God design us to call out to Him but also to be strengthened through the Body of Christ. If you doubt this principle, read Romans 12:4-8 and I Corinthians 12.
So in the course of my repentance, I once again realized I would have to confess this sin to my accountability partners. “Did I really need to go beyond my confession to God?” The answer was a firm and loving “Yes.”
But confession is hard, isn’t it? We become vulnerable and wonder if our friends will still love us if they know how sinful we are! What will happen if my sin is revealed in public or at my workplace?
Fortunately, I have two people in my life who love and accept me for who I am. Over the years they have seen me progress in my pursuit of holiness to the place where I rarely fall in this area anymore. Why? — because the power of confession revolutionized my life. I learned I would rather not sin in order to please my Heavenly Father and at the same time avoid painful conversations with my friends!
In my life, though, I learned the necessity of taking confession a step further. When I finally found an accountability partner to ask me how I was doing, I would “overlook” a lot of sin. I rationalized, “Well, on a scale of one to ten, I’m an eight. I only looked at pornography once this week!” I was “gratefully” never asked specific questions. Regrettably, I also missed my opportunity for honest confession and the chance to walk in freedom from the power of sin.
In prayer, the Lord whispered to me. Just as I was specific to Him in my confessions, I would need to be specific with others. From this revelation came the Accountability Contract included with this article.
Listed are specific questions asked of me by my accountability partners. Some are tough, aren’t they? Yet how can I overcome something like masturbation if I never have to confess it? Confession not only brings freedom but strengthens your character and empowers your will.
Based on and guided by scripture, this is not a “works” contract that should weigh you down as you try to “live by the rules.” It is a guide to encourage you not to do those things your flesh would like to do.
I have often felt tempted to sin and turned away simply because I would have to confess it! As I spend more time with the Lord rather than acting out my sin, I discover more and more I don’t want to hurt the Lord I love!
My accountability partners also write up a contract specific to their needs and vulnerabilities. Some questions resemble mine, while others encompass problems specific to them such as using finances wisely or sharing the gospel with unbelievers. Your contract should focus on issues or behaviors most difficult for you or where you are most vulnerable.
The New Year is almost here. If you have not given accountability a chance, do it now. If you have made previous efforts that seemed to fall flat, ask God for wisdom and faith to try again. Do not let fear of others rob you of victory! Like myself, many have found receptive brothers and sisters committed to spiritual and personal growth. You can take the step fo faith to find a trustworthy friend or pastor as an accountability partner.
Take the risk, initiative and work involved in becoming accountable and see the power of the Lord radically change your life in 1999!
NEXT PAGEMY ACCOUNTABILITY CONTRACT
Because of my design to become mature in Christ (attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ, Eph. 4:13), and recognizing that I cannot develop without the aid of the Body of Christ (I Cor 12:12-31, especially v. 26), the following questions need to be asked of me on a weekly basis:
- Have I had devotions (prayer and Bible study) every day this week (Ps 27:4; Ps. 119:9-11)?
- Have I honored the Lord with all that I put before my eyes (this includes movies, videos, the Internet, and print material) (Phil. 4:8)?
- Have I entertained fantasy or false intimacy in my life and have I “acted out” (i.e., masturbation, Internet surfing) as a result? What type of fantasy or trigger produced the acting out (II Cor 10:4-5)?
- Have I honored God in my vocation and related responsibilities during the week (II Timothy 2:15)?
- Have I honored my spouse and family with my words, actions and deeds (Eph. 5:25, 28)?
- The following questions need to be asked on a weekly basis.
- Have I been totally honest in answering all of the above questions (Col 3:9)?
Thank you for being a friend, for loving me regardless of my answers, and for being Christ’s representative in my life as I mature and grow in my faith. I submit my answers to you honestly because I know I can trust you. Our signatures below are a symbol of our covenant with each other and with God. We hold each other accountable for this present hope of being delivered and for our future hope of eternity with Almighty God!
When I refused to confess my sin, I was weak and miserable, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. Therefore, let all the godly confess their rebellion to you while there is time, that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment. For you are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory.
Psalm 32:3-7 NLT