This chapter explores the idea that encouragement and accountability are important to applying truth to people’s lives and that none of us were designed by God to live in isolation from this. We are created anew to be dependent upon one another – this again destroys the concept of the counselor as “guru” to focus on the fact that a counselor is a Christian helping one to another.
He continues with the objectives he began in the last chapter.
- Instill Identity in Christ.
- The gospel motivates us not only with the surety of forgiveness and Christ’s presence with us but also with our new identity in Christ. Romans 6 speaks to the power we have in our identity with Christ in His death and resurrection. We are dead to sin and alive to righteousness in Christ.
- He contrasts speech that people typically use such as “I am depressed” with the idea that “I am a child of God who is struggling with depression.” Our affirmations about identity make a real difference.
- He unpacks 2 Pe 1:3-9 and notes four points:
i. There are those who are in Christ who are unproductive
ii. Some Christians lack fruit because they lack essential character qualities but Christ lived, died, and rose that they would possess these character qualities.
iii. When Christians lack these character qualities we should ask why and help them gain sight of their identity in Christ to realize He has the resources to produce them.
iv. In Christ, men have all they need for life and godliness.
- Many are driven to a monasticism that sees the solution to sanctification as an outside-in strategy: remove the evil outside and you won’t sin. Peter’s solution is an inside-out where God has made progressive change of my heart possible in Christ.
- Provide Accountability
- Accountability has many negative connotations to people today
- Biblical accountability is defined by restoring people to where God wants them by carrying one another’s burdens (Gal 6:2) and fighting the deceitfulness of sin by encouraging one another daily (Heb 3:13)
- God calls us each to stand with people as they step out in faith, obedience and courage.
- We are not the Holy Spirit, being someone else’s conscience for them or forcing them to obey but it is providing loving structure, guidance, encouragement, and warning to someone who is fully committed to the change God is working in his life. The person who makes accountability work is always the person being held accountable.
- Accountability provides help on the practical level in these ways:
i. It provides structure that can be immediately helpful to someone attempting something for the first time in the midst of the messiness and chaos of life.
ii. It provides assistance where people are afraid to make the needed changes alone (i.e. talking to a spouse or friend).
iii. It provides encouragement because change is hard and people are often tempted to question their commitments or event quit. They need someone they can trust to come alongside their struggle and encourage.
iv. It provides warning because some confess their need for change but begin to rebel against it when they realize the cost and work involved. They need to be warned of the consequences of their disobedience and rebellion.