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Accountability in the Church Accountability in the Church

Accountability in the Church

The Bible may be the world’s most popular unread book. While it is still one of the most purchased books today, studies by Lifeway Research show that even those who think well of the Bible have not actually read it. Twenty-three percent of Americans have either read none of the Bible or only a few sentences of it. Thirty percent know only a few passages and stories.

Yet there is one verse in the Bible that just about everybody seems to know: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matt. 7:1). It is treated by many as the Bible’s “get-out-of-jail-free” card, claiming that they have the right to live however they choose without judgment. And nobody has ever said that they were looking for a church that was more judgmental.

In view of this, what a surprise it is to learn that Paul criticized the Corinthian church for not judging one another! The term for the kind of judgment spoken of in these verses is church discipline. Church discipline is what happens when the church’s members hold one another accountable for their behavior. According to Paul, it is a vitally important aspect of church health. Using the analogy of Israel’s practice of removing all leaven from their homes during Passover, Paul warns that one member’s sin may affect the whole body (vv. 6–8).

Accountability is a family affair. It is a matter of the church holding Christians accountable for their behavior. Does this mean that God doesn’t care how non-Christians live? He surely does: “God will judge those outside” (v. 13). Christians are to judge, but not without tending to their own sin first. What Jesus taught still holds true. Do not judge others without also holding yourself accountable to the same standards.

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BY Dr. John Koessler

John Koessler is Professor Emeritus of Applied Theology and Church Ministries at Moody Bible Institute. John authors the “Practical Theology” column for Today in the Word of which he is also a contributing writer and theological editor. An award-winning author, John’s newest title is When God is Silent: Let the Bible Teach You to Pray (Kirkdale). Prior to joining the Moody faculty, he served as a pastor of Valley Chapel in Green Valley, Illinois, for nine years. He and his wife, Jane, now enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan.

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