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Confession and Accountability

"Walk in the light... Light is a place of truth. You can see everything. You can't lie or hide, or keep it a secret. It's a place where we are honest, open and vulnerable."

by Asiri Fernando, YFC Sri Lanka

I’m extremely happy I can speak to my YFC family. What a privilege. And it’ll be great to see your faces one day. I’m going to talk to you about three boys in YFC. They are three solid young leaders, but each had a weakness. You can call it a secret sin, something they were struggling with, but they had not told anyone.

Finally, these three boys said, “Why don’t we meet up on a weekly basis and talk about our struggles. Everyone has some struggle. It could be uncontrollable anger at home. It could be an addiction to pornography or an an addiction to something that is good, like Netflix or social media. Or gaming. Maybe it’s constantly crossing the line with your girlfriend or your boyfriend.

So when these three boys got into an accountability group, something beautiful started happening. I have an accountability partner called Shanahan. I meet with him once a week, and this has been one of the most joy-producing things in my life. This truth is found in 1 John 1:5-10.

I think this is an important passage for YFC. The apostle John is an older man and he’s writing to the churches that he has pastored and in verse five. He says, “this is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you.” This is the message he’s saying that he heard from Jesus when he was a young man. And now I am telling you. What is it?

That God is light and in him is no darkness at all. So if you’re in a dark room, no one can see anything. You can do things in secret. You can lie, deceive. No one will know. But when the light comes on, everything is seen. Nothing can be kept secret. No more lies. It’s a place of truth. The true self Is revealed. So when it says that God is light. One big meaning is that we’re talking about a place of truth, he knows everything.

He sees everything. And then this passage talks about this whole aspect of accountability. Firstly, there are three passages about living a secret life. Verses six, eight and ten. Verse six says if you say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness – basically in front of people – it looks like we have a great relationship with God, but back home, we are struggling with the secret sin.

Verse 8 says, if we say we have no sin, it’s basically acting like I don’t really have any struggles. Verse10: “If we say we have not sinned…” Now that’s a little extreme, but there are people who act like that, too. Now we are going to look at what’s right under these passages. 

Verse six: We lie. Verse 8: We deceive ourselves. Verse 10: We make him a liar because God has said that we are sinners then right under that, do not practice the truth. And the truth is not in us. And his word is not in us. That’s interesting, isn’t it? It’s talking about life in that dark room. You can lie.

You can pretend, you can act, deceive. No one can see anything. No one knows. In many ways, darkness is pretending to be holy. Walking in darkness is not so much about sinning because everyone sins. It’s about sinning and keeping it a secret. It’s about sinning and not telling someone about it. So what does it mean to walk in the light that’s found in verse seven and nine?

Where seven says, if you walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another. Now it’s talking about true, authentic, real fellowship. Verse nine says if we confess our sins. I’m going to tell you something interesting. There are two words in the New Testament for confession of sin.

That is homologeō and exomologeō. And these words appear five times in the New Testament with the idea of confession of sin and all five times it is in community. Not in a room alone. One of these passages is James five 16. It says, therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed.

The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. So confess your sins to one another, and then that person prays for you. And you’re healed. That is what it means to walk in the light. Light is a place of truth. You can see everything. You can’t lie or hide, or keep it a secret. It’s a place where we are honest, open and vulnerable.

So it is in this context of confession in community that we find these beautiful passages and the blood of Jesus. His son cleanses us from all sin. He’s faithful. And just to forgive us, our sins and to clean us from all unrighteousness. So this is confessing to one another and confessing to God in the presence of one another. You know, too many great leaders and their ministries have come to an end, and have been destroyed when a secret sin became public.

It started maybe in their twenties. One thing led to another. 30-40 years down the line, it suddenly became public. Accountability will protect you from the public fall. Now I want to say three things about the friends you can have accountability with: Number one, pursue friends whom you can trust. You know, we can’t talk about things to everyone.

Number two: We need friends to lift us when we fall. The Bible says two are better than one. If one falls, the one will lift up his brother, but woe to him who is alone when he falls and has no one to lift him up. Number three: sometimes friends rebuke us. And the Bible says that is a good thing. 

I want to say five things that happen when you share. Number one, you know, before you sin – before the sin controls you, you were not thinking correctly, but now you get a handle of the issue.

When we share, a huge burden leaves us. Suddenly the freedom and joy is slowly coming back. Number three, when you walk in the light, the power of Satan on you is broken. Number four, James five 16. When you confess your friend prays for you and you’re healed. Number five, your friend will help you make a decision regarding your sin.

If it’s pornography, maybe putting a blocker or a Google parenting control on your phone. Now I want to share a list of things I talk with my accountability partner about and I hope it will be helpful to you. Number one, we talk about our devotions. Number two, our time with family, where I have been talking to my wife or been playing with my children.

Number three, have I been getting angry this week? Number four, have I been exercising the last week? Number five, how have I been on the internet, on social media. Number six, how have I been handling money? Number seven, have I been truthful when talking to people? Number eight, have I been careless with those of the other sex, especially maybe when chatting.

And so if I have fallen, sometimes my friend puts me on a discipline. Something like I cannot accept a preaching invitation for a month. You know, when we sin, we become proud, but discipline humbles us. And when we are humble, God’s glory can fill us again. Hebrews 12 says that discipline comes straight from the heart of God.

So I hope that every one of us will be part of an accountability group so that wherever we are in YFC, we will walk in the light and serve God with power, joy, and freedom.