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Do you have a Nathan? Accountability and why you need it.

November 27, 2017

As college ministers, we often seem like heroes to the students we minister to. We are often several steps ahead of them in the faith.

But just because we may be more mature in the faith, that does not give us an excuse to neglect basic spiritual disciplines.

In fact, it’s probably a reason we should be even more committed to means of grace, such as a good accountability group.

David needed Nathan

2 Samuel tells the story of one of the godliest men in the Old Testament committing adultery and then covering it up by murdering the husband of his new lover.

If he can fall into such sin, so can any one of us.

What’s worse is he didn’t quickly come under conviction and repent. Rather, he was hard-hearted over his sin for many months, maybe longer.

The Bible doesn’t tell us exactly how long David’s heart was cold toward God after his intentional sins, but we know that by the time Nathan came to rebuke David, the baby from the affair had already been born.

David, the man so filled with the Holy Spirit that he wrote almost half the book of Psalms, hardened his heart for the better part of a year against his Savior.

What did it take for David to finally repent? A prophet had to stick his finger in David’s face and say, “You are the man!” (2 Samuel 12)

After Nathan’s strong rebuke, David quickly and fully repented. More importantly, God instantly forgave his sin.

Soon David returned to a place of worshiping and trusting his God, but a key element in his repentance and restoration was a godly friend who spoke the truth in love to him in a hard time.

Peter needed Paul

David was one of the greatest leaders of the Old Testament.

Peter was one of the greatest of the New Testament, yet he got into some big, bad sin, long after he had been appointed to his leadership role by Christ Himself.

Peter’s sin was not as scandalous as David’s, but it was wicked nonetheless.

Galatians 2 tells us that Peter made some very rash decisions because he feared what others thought about him.

God had told him personally that it was okay for Jews and Gentiles (anyone of non-Jewish descent) to have full fellowship together (Acts 10-11).

Peter had been living that way for a while, but a certain group of men in the church disagreed with him (and with God).

They must have been somewhat influential because their social pressure led Peter to abandon eating with Gentile Christians.

This is much worse than just not sitting with a friend at the lunch table. There were deep gospel implications to Peter’s actions.

He was such a key church leader that his actions spoke loudly about doctrinal truths.

His decisions about seating arrangements seemed to indicate that a fully born Jewish man who had been circumcised was automatically a better Christian than a Gentile convert.

Some may have even interpreted his actions as saying that Gentiles must be circumcised to be saved, adding a deadly dose of legalism to the precious gospel of salvation.

When did Peter stop and repent? After the apostle Paul saw through his sinful actions and called him to the carpet publicly (Galatians 2: 11-21).

If spiritual heroes like David and Peter needed friends in their lives like Nathan and Paul, what do we need in our lives?

Maybe the better question is, “who do we need in our lives?”

Christians need accountability groups

Hebrews is a book about pressing on in the faith even when persecution increases and there are many seeming reasons to disassociate with Christ.

At the end of Hebrews 10, the author wisely instructs us that one of the best ways to draw near to Christ is to draw near to His body, the church.

In Hebrews 10:24-25 he talks about meeting with other Christians to “stir up one another” and to “encourage one another.”

This passage seems to refer more to the idea of a small group of believers gathering together rather than a large gathering on a Sunday morning where one or two pastors do most of the encouraging and stirring.

This doesn’t mean mega churches are bad, and neither do I say this because I don’t value Sunday morning worship. I think it is one of the most important means of grace there is.

I am saying that I don’t think “big church”—as I used to call it as a kid—is the only thing most Christians need to really persevere in the faith for the long haul.

Most of us aren’t good at just listening to a sermon and then figuring out all the right applications on our own.

Further, many of us aren’t good at holding ourselves accountable even if we know all the right applications—even those of us in full time ministry.

You need to confess your sins to others

Virtually all Christians know that we should be regularly confessing our sins to Christ, as 1 John 1:9 says.

We can go straight to our Savior anytime, anyplace, without the aid of a priest. He is our great high priest. And yet James 5:16 says there is great value in confessing our sins one to another.

The word used for healing can be used to refer to physical or spiritual healing.

You may not currently need physical healing, but do you need spiritual healing? Take a look at the list below to get a better idea of areas in which you may need spiritual healing:

  • Is your walk with the Lord dry?
  • Is your heart cold towards Him?
  • Do you seem hardened to spiritual things in general?
  • Do you seem not to believe the things you are teaching to your students?
  • Is there any unconfessed sin in your life?
  • Is there any secret sin? I don’t mean one lustful or arrogant thought that went through your mind for two seconds.
  • Is there any pattern of sin that is ongoing that you have not dealt with?
  • Is there any scandalous sin that you have kept hidden from all people, though you may have confessed to the Lord?

Sometimes being honest with another person eye to eye about our sin forces us to be more honest with ourselves about our sin and ultimately more honest with the Lord.

Some of us are too hard on ourselves and our sins. Some of us are too easy on ourselves.

Either way, we all need an accountability group within the body of Christ that we can confess sins to. And we all need someone to speak truth and grace back to us.