Thursday, November 18, 2010

Accountability - The Churches Daily Chore

"But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
(Hebrews 13:5 - ESV)

The Greek word used in this verse for the word hardened is σκληρυνω (sklay-roo’-no.) It is used six times in the New Testament (Acts 19:9; Romans 9:18;Hebrews 3:8,13,15, 4:7) The basic meaning of σκληρυνω is "to make hard or to harden." It refers to being or becoming stubborn or obstinate.
Our hearts can harden very quickly. It does not take much for us to act in a very stubborn or obstinate manner. All to quickly we can shut out and ignore all that we know to be true in order to pursue a course of action or attitude that we know to be sinful. 
σκληρυνω in Hebrews 13:5 is used as an aorist, passive, and subjunctive verb. Basically this means sin is the culprit or the bad guy in this warning. The writer of Hebrews is driving home the point that we need to be regularly, and in this case daily, encouraged in our faith so that sin does not take the tiniest of opportunities and harden our heart. The passive voice of this verb gives the idea that this hardening is done to us. Sin makes our heart stubborn or obstinate if, this is why the subjunctive mood is used, we are not on our guard.
Sin is described as "deceitful." Even with all that we do:
  • Daily Devotions
  • Daily Bible Reading
  • Scripture memorization
  • Strategically placed verses, plagues, reminders, etc. 
  • Christian background music

...we can still fall short of staving off an attack of sin  as it desires to render our hearts stubborn or obstinate against all that we know to be godly and holy. Even doing all that we can do we still need to be accountable to someone and allow someone or many someones to encourage us each day.
Jerry Bridges in The Disciplines of Grace reminds us that the evil desires within our flesh constantly searches for opportunities to express themselves. He likens it to a radar system whose antenna is continually searching the environment around us for temptations which it can respond to. He reminds us that our flesh is always seeking an opportunity to gratify itself according to the particular sinful desires that each of us possess. 

Accountability is very rare yet it is so vital to our victorious living and mortification of sin. This hardness that can cause us to sin against God by becoming stubborn and obstinate can occur in a single unguarded moment.
Do you have someone who encourages you daily? Many of us have our spouse and we praise God for this. This passage suggests that this encouragement comes from someone from our local church. Who do you have that helps you, encourages you, and holds you accountable in areas such as diet, devotions, family, finances, or even sexually stimulating material?
Committing ourselves to daily encouragement is an invaluable tool in our fight against sin. Sadly, we face two devastating challenges concerning daily accountability. 
First - we must be willing to submit to daily accountability. We must recognize that we need daily encouragement to fight sin. I am not talking about the "sensational" sins like adultery, murder, rape, and the like. 
We need help especially with the "respectable sins." You know the ones that we "make respectable in various ways" so that we can commit them - like gossip, lying, envy, coveting, partiality, pride, or lust. 
Second - we must have a body that has been lovingly, patiently, and biblically taught the responsibility of daily encouraging each member. Sad to say most churches do not do this. Most churches do not encourage or confront during the week. It breaks my heart to say that the church at large rarely has this mindset or commitment. I long for someone to encourage me or hold me accountable to spiritual things  during the week let alone daily. How about you?

The lesson in our verse is found in the phrase "as long as it is called today." We need this accountability today. Soon we will be in the presence of God where we will live forever. Our spirits will be perfected and will be united with resurrection bodies. We will be perfect and not sin. We don't need encouragement or accountability then. We need it now while there is still time. Time before sin races in and renders my heart stubborn or obstinate. 

I pray for those of you who read this blog and leave comments. I pray that you are encouraged or exhorted daily by someone who loves you enough to risk your friendship in helping you with the mortification of sin and living faithfully before the Lord. Will you pray for me that God will supply regular if not daily exhortations for me in my battle with the flesh?

30 Days of Thanksgiving
I am thankful for the fact that God is absolutely Sovereign! God is my refuge, my fortress, and my rock. He is working out His plan in my life perfectly and according to His schedule. I am thankful that there is nothing that can hinder the plan and purpose of God for my life! Not even me! Not even you!


welcome to my world of poetry said...

Excellent post Gregg, loved the signpost hope I don't go down that direction too often.
We do have much to be thankful for.
Have a enjoyable day.

Seams Inspired said...

I appreciate the prayers, and I'll be praying for you too. Thanks for another excellent post! Happy Thursday!

Persis said...

Amen to your post. We were not in fellowship with a church for a number of years, and it took its toll. Thank God, He has brought us to a body of believers. How much we need fellowship to help us in our daily battle with sin!

Gregg said...

Thank you Yvonne - The sign post is a sober reminder that there are wrong roads to go down. You are right, there is so much that we can be thankful for!

Seams Inspired - You are welcome; thank you and thank you!

Persis - Thank you Persis. I certainly know what you mean by being out of fellowship. We need one another and God designed it that way. Praise God for the body of Christ.

Anonymous said...

Gregg, thank you for these encouraging words today. Yes, I pray that God will help you daily in your fight, and all of us who fight against the world, the flesh, and the devil. We were discussing the importance of accountability in our small group last night. I love that aboout small groups, a new experience for us.

It's interesting that the Greek word for harden sklay-roo’-no is where we get the word sclerosis. Atherosclerosis slowly hardens the artery walls and without any warning, one can die of a heart attack. Definitely a spiritual correlation going on there.

Thanks for sharing that.
Blessings brother!


Brother Gregg

The type of accountability partners you describe in your post are very difficult to find and even harder to keep. I've only met 3 Christian men over the past 30 years that I trusted enough to share my most intimate thoughts and struggles with on that level.

Thanks again for this thought provoking post. You have given me a lot to think about.