A Growing Holy Lifestyle, Which Includes Needed Accountability
Sometimes we forget that the Spirit that God has put into our hearts is the Holy Spirit. When the Bible speaks of Holiness, it is speaking of a purity that emulates God’s own likeness and His own purity. It is speaking of the kind of purity that Jesus exhibited in His thoughts, words, motives, and actions- free from the murk of sin that we all deal with on a daily basis. Perhaps many of us conjure up images of a man sitting in white robes at the top of a mountain with a long flowing white beard as being “Holy”. Perhaps others see only the “religious elite” such as the clergy as being candidates for exhibiting holiness. Neither of these, unfortunately, resembles God’s idea of what Holiness is truly intended to resemble.
Holiness does not come from emptying ones mind and becoming "One" with the surrounding rocks, dirt and trees, holiness does not come only after a long and wearisome exercise in isolation therapy, or after depriving oneself the body's essentials, like food and sleep.
Biblically, holiness comes by filling ones mind with God’s Word, and seeking God’s presence throughout our lives given by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit supplies the power in the believer's life to exhibit Holiness in our thoughts, words, motives, and actions.
A man or woman who has released control of their lives to God and allows Christ to live His life through them will display Holiness. The Bible calls this product of Christ in us “Spiritual fruit”. The imagery is of a tree that grows and produces something of great value, sweetness, and nutrition. The Holy Spirit produces spiritual fruit in a believers life as a source of immeasurable value- lasting even into eternity after we die (1 Corinthians 3:10-15), supplying the sweetness of life that God always intended for us to enjoy (John 10:10), and the means to further develop our relationship with God more personally and intimately (1 Thessolonians 3:13).
In Galatians 5:22-23 the Apostle Paul makes a list of the virtues or “fruit” that the Holy Spirit produces in our lives when we walk in an intimate relationship with Him. He writes: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering (patience), gentleness, goodness, faith, “Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
In other words those who live by the Spirit of God will begin developing these Godly virtues.
Jesus explains how the Holy Spirit produces this fruit in our lives in John 15:5-8:
“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.”
So as Jesus emphasizes, “abiding in Him” (having an active submitted relationship with Him) and bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit are inseparable. If we have this relationship with Jesus, we will bear fruit. If we don’t, then we won’t bear fruit. The fruit (or lack thereof) always being the product of this ongoing relationship with Jesus.
Thus living a life Holy and pleasing to God, is defined by whether we continually allow the fullness of Christ to dwell in us and to live His life through us by His Spirit. (Romans 12:1,2)
I emphasized in a previous section that in God’s kingdom, there are no Lone Rangers. We as believers and followers of Jesus, mature spiritually together growing up into one united Body. The Bible implores believers who are striving for Holiness in their personal lives to do so together with others. One reason for this is that there is safety in numbers. We who strive for this end will find a relentless attack by the temptations of the world, our own flesh that desires these things, and the barrage of attacks by our real Enemy (the devil). But in God’s wisdom who has already anticipated all that stands opposed to our knowing and loving Him more, we find that accountability relationships with other believers provides a strong amount of resiliance to the attacks of the enemy and weaknesses of the flesh and furthers the development of holiness in our lives.
In Galatians 6:1-2 Paul writes: “Bretheren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
Accountability is horizontal not vertical. We must understand that when the Bible talks about accountability it is not talking about coerced control by one who supposedly has “higher authority”. Rather, it is dealing with a mutual agreement and commitment to engage in honest communication and concede permission to ask tough penetrating questions that deal with issues that cause sin and break down our relationship with Jesus Christ. As such, we are not subordinate to those who keep us accountable, but rather are all equal heirs to the throne of grace, so that together, we can make each other stronger in our love and obedience to the Lord Jesus.
I would highly recommend beginning this process by getting to know some people in your church. Develop a quality brotherly or sisterly friendship that can grow into a firm mutual trust. Try to get involved in a home fellowship group or Bible study- preferably one that meets weekly consistently so that quality relationships have a chance to build. Be involved in each others lives and serve each other as often as it is reasonable and acceptable between you both. To know each other, to trust each other, and to depend upon each other is the best possible way for a sincere, effective accountability relationship to develop. And in these relationships- God’s purposes in us to produce holiness together as a single Body will begin to flourish.