Accountability and Obedience

May 25, 2011 in Disciples (F3) by CPM UK

(Notes taken from a recent Skype session with Paul D Watson)

What is our perspective of obedience and how it plays out in small groups and other structures?

Stories of transformation come about because of obedience at some level. Obedience is not a popular concept and many will react negatively to talk of this issue.

Increasingly in Christendom the notion that we can receive Jesus as our Saviour first and then as our Lord later has become popular. These shouldn’t be separated. The Idea that Jesus can be our Saviour first before He becomes our Lord has worked into Christendom because there has been a  focus on grace before truth.

We have grown up in a bad system of accountability because we don’t know how to appropriately deal with accountability issues. So, we pull obedience/accountability out of the mix entirely because of the bad system of accountability. We all know about the Heavy Shepherding issues that surfaced in many UK Churches. Paul shared an observation that we easily follow a Roman Catholic model, which is confession and accountability in a group (so we look to the sin a person has committed, get them to feel guilty about it, then use group pressure to keep a person from doing that again).

What is the difference between confession and accountability though?  One can only ‘confess’ what happened in the past. Accountability is about what you say you will do in the future, moving forward out of obedience, or not. Example. Pornography. Person is undone by passage “anyone who looks on a woman lustfully has committed a sin.” This new believer confesses, but doesn’t know how to work this out. Because of Scripture/HS, he has a ‘godly sorrow’. Acknowledgement needs to be made that God is speaking to you, and now as brothers in Christ with you, we agree together to come alongside you to help you work this battle out. Change of focus not on the ‘bad’ behaviour, but how the person works not to put oneself in a position to view porn. The group celebrates the brother avoided the situation which would have taken him into sin. Community helping the person. This makes difference between ‘confession’ and ‘accountability’.

How early should seekers/disciples be introduced to obedience? Straight away!

How can we move to introducing an early obedience and healthy accountability process where it’s already second nature when they come to decide to follow Jesus. In Discovery Bible Studies (DBS) you follow this pattern. If you believe that God is speaking in this passage, how will you respond? So, not using ‘obedience’ with its negative connotations in this culture. So, follow-up accountability question becomes much more of a conversational nature, rather than accusation. How did it go? (Not what I told you you should do, but what you said you would do). Statements of obedience need to be as concrete and as simple as possible.

So, one of our jobs as coaches/leaders, is how to help people get to their concrete statements. If we leave it as general (Love God more), when I am asked about it the following week, then a person will tend to think not of the good and steady growth in loving God, but the one or two times a person didn’t. Becomes a defeating thing. Being specific, concrete, and simple, becomes something we can all help to do together, and celebrate victory in together. We should be careful to prevent ourselves and our Churches from being too general in our obedience statements.

If we have obedience and we have healthy accountability then we will have better worship. Offering we bring is not sacrifices as OT sacrificial system, but the obedience as a gift of love, a love offering to God. A response of love for God. Jesus is the example of this! For us, it may be as wild and wonderful as a scribble on a paper, but if a loving gift, it is as treasured by God as a masterpiece.

Obedience is the loving response to the grace of God, and that response is worship. Worship falls flat because we do not create times for us to hear about transformation that loving obedience has caused in congregations.

Obedience is part of the salvation process. It’s not separate. You don’t get saved, then obey. A couple of scripture passages. Dt 6.1ff. Dt 17.18ff. Paul shared that He used to think that fear of the Lord preceded obedience. How do I have more fear of the Lord? Thought I had to cultivate that and humility, and it didn’t work for me. Then I read this passage. Learned to fear the Lord by keeping the commandments. Obedience leads to fear of the Lord and right relationship with him, and proper humility/relationship with others. This is counter-intuitive. This is not ‘heavy shepherding’ model!!!

Obedience did not go away in light of grace, it continued, to another level. Cf Jesus, “you heard it said…” (sermon on the mount texts). Acts 5.32 (HS, who God gives to those who obey him”

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