Take the Next Step

Written by Dawn Rutan

 

Recently I searched for the word “walk” in the New Testament, and I was struck by the variety of instructions for how we are to walk:

  • Walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4)
  • Walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:4)
  • Walk properly as in the daytime (Romans 13:13)
  • Walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7)
  • Walk by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16 & 25)
  • Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called (Ephesians 4:1)
  • Walk in love (Ephesians 5:2)
  • Walk as children of the light (Ephesians 5:8)
  • Walk not as unwise but as wise (Ephesians 5:15)
  • Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord (Colossians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:12)
  • Walk in Christ Jesus the Lord (Colossians 2:6)
  • Walk in wisdom toward outsiders (Colossians 4:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:12)
  • Walk in the light (1 John 1:7)
  • Walk as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6)
  • Walk according to His commandments (2 John 6)

Altogether, those verses pretty well illustrate what our lives should look like within the Body of Christ. Unfortunately, I’m not sure we do a very good job of living up to those expectations. There seems to be an abundance of unwise choices and walking in darkness. Of course, that’s obvious in the pastors who make the news, but it is at least as frequent among attendees of every church. While some of those church attenders are not actually Christians, they aren’t the only ones taking missteps.

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We are all prone to depart from the “narrow way” at times. The main questions are how far off the path are we going to go and how long are we going to stay there? The further we stray into darkness, the harder it is to return to the light and the more likely it is that our sins will become known to others.

As we discussed in Bible study this week, when we try to cope with our sin in isolation, we’re going to have a hard time holding everything together and keeping it from ruling our lives. We desperately need the light of Christ to shine on our lives through close relationships with other believers. We need those people who will ask the hard questions and won’t settle for “Fine” as an answer to any question. We need people who will not just keep our secrets, but won’t let our secrets keep us from growing in holiness. We need people who can help us think through and pray for wise decisions in all areas of life.

How much sin would be avoided if every believer were held accountable by someone else? How much temptation would be diffused if we knew we’d have to tell someone if we gave in to it? There have been many times when I’ve needed that accountability to keep me from doing something I would soon regret, and there have been times when I didn’t have anyone when I needed someone.

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Trillia Newbell writes the following on Why Accountability Matters (http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/why-accountability-matters):

Consistent accountability has been a means of God’s protection in my life. To this day, though I’m further along in my walk than I was a decade ago, I do not believe I’m incapable of grievous sin (1 Corinthians 10:12). I am a new creation, and I have the Spirit’s power, but it’s no longer a surprise that when I want to do good, evil is close at hand (Romans 7:21). Understanding that we are all batting on the same team (all have sinned) means we can freely share with these close, trusted friends. Accountability allows us to confess patterns of temptation and in so doing we are restrained from actual transgression.

I would challenge individuals and small groups to take the next step toward honesty and vulnerability with those who can be trusted.

“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” –Ephesians 4:25

 

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