When someone is converted to Christ it is important for them as a new Christian to fellowship with other Christians, and if possible to find a congregation of spiritual people that clearly teach sin-free-living and emphasize practical Christian living.
The importance of being a part of a congregation and making yourself accountable to those that are Spiritual in the congregation has a keeping effect that I call the ’shame factor’. Being part of a congregation and making yourself accountable is not just for new Christians either, it is important for everyone.
It is very important to make a public declaration to the congregation that you are attending that you are saved and keep – by the power of God – from all sinning. Also that you want the congregation to hold you accountable to your testimony of faith.
When you get saved and you are off all by yourself and you are not accountable to anyone, when you are tempted the by devil he will tell you just go and ahead and sin and you can repent later and no one will know the difference. But when you are part of a congregation and make yourself accountable to the brethren, there is a shame factor that goes with falling into sin and having to admit you have failed when you are asked how you are doing in your soul.
Many people have gotten saved because of the fear of hell or because they messed up their life so bad that they realized only God could straighten it out. While “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Pro 9:10), it takes more than the fear of hell to keep you saved. You will need to realize the great love God had for you in sending Jesus (1Joh 4:10) to save you from your mess and respond back to this great love by loving Him. Likewise the shame of having others know you have failure is not going to be enough to keep you. It is just one more thing to add to all the other reasons to stay saved.
Not only is it good to have the brethren check and make sure you have victory over sin, but this works in many areas in your Christian walk. If you confess that the Lord has been dealing with you and that you need to eat less, this will help you to pass on the second or third plate at the congregation potluck suppers. If you confess in brothers’ meetings that the Lord has been dealing with you not to be so friendly with the sisters, then you can be sure the brothers will keep an eye on you and help you out.
I would like to say here that it is immodest and in my opinion totally unacceptable to discuss your failures or weaknesses in sexual matters in mixed company. You should even be careful about openly discussing these things in brothers’ or sisters’ meetings, as there are young people and unspiritual people that may not know how to keep these things to themselves. You should only discuss these kinds of weaknesses with spiritual people that are mature and know how to control their tongue.
Over all even in simple things – like how you are doing in your devotions – it is good that you check up on each other. I remember a few weeks ago I was at a Saturday pig barbecue and I was asked what I read in my Bible that day. Now if I would have been asked the day before, I would have had to say I didn’t read my Bible (I did have a good season of prayer that morning, but I just didn’t read the Bible). I went home from there with a clear determination to make sure that wouldn’t happen again and that I would make the time to read my Bible daily no matter what.
At the same time you need to be careful not to state publicly something like “the Lord showed you to start getting up at 4am in the morning and spending 2 hours in prayer”. Make sure you are not taking on something that is too big of a step, but something that you will be able to stick to.
I remember reading that Martin Luther got up a 4am and spent 3 hours in prayer every morning and I decided to start that myself. Thank the Lord that I had more common sense than to testify about it to the congregation before I found out it was unrealistic. On the First morning that I got up at 4am it made me sick. That was the last time I tried getting up that early unless I got to bed very, very early.
In closing, it is a good thing to have brethren that you can be accountable to. It is good to spend time with brethren that are more spiritual than you are who will provoke and exhort you unto good works and more godly conduct. I have put this system of accountability to work in my own life and I can testify it has been very helpful to me. I trust these principles will be a help to you also.