Warning: This post goes against much of what many evangelical church programs are built upon. Thereby potentially causing severe discomfort in defending all of the superfluous “programs” that make up your church.

Nevertheless, I have to say it.

Accountability groups focussed on a particular sin, or a particular category of sin (eg. lust), drastically miss the point of the gospel.  Allow me to first add two qualifiers and then a defense.

First qualifier: Not all accountability groups are bad.  Accountability is important, even sin-specific accountability.  It can be done well, it can also be done poorly.  This post is a reaction to the latter.

Second qualifier:  As Christians, we do need to be killing sin.  This post is geared toward the motivation for killing sin, not whether or not we need to.

The fact of the matter is that sin is not defeated with a try-harder-do-better ethic.  Sin is only defeated when we die to sin.  We die to sin when we are united with Christ in his death on the cross.  Now you are more than likely thinking, “I need to do better at being united with Christ in his death”.  Unfortunately, that thought is the outflow of the deeply ingrained try-harder ethic cultivated by “sin groups”.

I am more and more convinced that though sin groups may help in stopping a particular sin, a new sin always arises in its place, usually pride.  What we need is to concentrate on the preeminence of Jesus Christ.

There are two motivations that Christians tend to have in regard to fighting personal sin: anti-gospel and gospel.

Anti-gospel sin-fighting: you think that your justification lies in your performance, ie. your ability to not sin.  This person loves accountability groups and may even be very outspoken about their sin, yet, the motivation for defeating sin remains misguided. Fighting sin with an anti-gospel motivation may pass as “disciplined” or “spiritual”; all the while, “having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power” (2 Tim. 3:5).  see also Gal. 3:3

Gospel sin-fighting: This person understands that Matthew 4:1-11 is not just a text to teach Christians how to fight sin, but that it is primarily a text that shows that Jesus performed perfectly, and that his performance is now regarded as my own perfect performance because of His substitutionary work on our behalf.  This fighter is trained by the words in Romans 6:14, “sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”

The one focuses on the sin, the other focuses on Jesus’ victory over sin.

“What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace?”  By no means! Go read your Bibles.