Christian Living
Are We Downplaying Sin in the Digital Age?: 4 Tips for Accountability
Mar 6, 2019
Jesus Rose From the Dead ... So What?

FOR YOUR GIFT OF ANY AMOUNT


In an age when sinning has become even easier, we must zealously pursue holiness.


Ever since the Fall, man has struggled with sin and temptation. And while the roots of our sin haven't changed from generation to generation, the way we experience and relate to our temptation has transformed dramatically. In today's Digital Age, the plethora of free information gives each of us a little more power than our forefathers had. The knowledge and information at our fingertips can certainly be a tool for good works, but it can also lead us into darkness and despair if we do not seek accountability.

Woman holding mobile phone

To walk in holiness and true spiritual accountability, we must hate our own sin as much as we hate the sin in others.

 

The Digital Age Has Made Sinning Even Easier

David didn't need a dating app to lust after Bathsheba, and Peter didn't need instant news access or social media to deny Jesus. These Bible greats made plenty of mistakes in their day, but can you imagine how their temptation would have been amplified in our current world? Modern technology—particularly the internet—has created an environment that allows us to do virtually anything from the privacy of our own screen. Cloaked in anonymity, we're able to go anywhere or do anything without anyone knowing. 

Men used to have to go down to the adult bookstore to buy a lewd magazine, showing some level of brazenness to commit such a sin. Today, that man's son can access infinitely more pornographic content in just seconds by typing in a few key words. Similarly, in previous generations, people had to pickpocket a person or break into their house to steal their money, but today it's more common for someone to ruin a person financially by hacking their accounts with just a few quick key strokes.

The Danger of the Digital Age Infographic

Put simply, sinning is now more convenient. As Christians living in an increasingly dark and immoral world, we must seek out tools—as well as other believers—to hold us accountable in a time of ever-increasing access to sin.

Don't Let Pride Creep In

While technology opens the door to many obvious temptations (pornography, plagiarism, identity theft), it also offers ample opportunities for us to sin in more subtle but potentially more hazardous ways. So inconspicuous can these temptations be that in our pride—thinking we have our technology use under control—we fall prey to sins that slowly and dangerously lead us away from the heart of God.

Technology today presents a constant stream of the latest and greatest, highlighting what others have that we don't and trying to convince us that satisfaction is found in things apart from God. Left unchecked by Gospel Truth, such instant communication with the rest of the world can lead to self-inflicted suffering—discontentment and loneliness—that stem from the sins of coveting, vanity, and idolatry. While there's nothing inherently wrong with checking what our friends are up to or posting a selfie of ourselves enjoying a hobby, when we become obsessed with our status, appearance, or reputation, we sin against the holy, humble God who loves us. We must be careful not to glorify ourselves or other people more than our God. He alone deserves all our praise, and in Him alone do we find all our worth. Therefore, we must search our hearts to be sure we aren't presenting a false picture of who we are, examining the true motives behind our actions. 

The Ugly Truth About Accountability

Because technology both makes it easier to sin and to hide that sin, it is imperative that we seek out accountability. For, as Hebrews 4:13 says, "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account." In His grace, God has given us loving brothers and sisters in Christ to encourage us to live in a manner worthy of the Gospel. We all know this—and yet we don't always do the hard work of confession and accountability. Why?

Plain and simple: It's embarrassing to admit our sins. It feels shameful. Truth be told, sometimes we would rather people believe the image we have created than walk in holiness with our God. We would rather people believe that we are more spiritual, more wise, and more mature than we really are (this is why moral failures have become increasingly common in church leadership). But following Christ requires us to lay down our pride—to crucify the false image we have created—so that we can wholeheartedly run after Him. We are to "throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles" (Hebrews 12:1)—not sweep our sin under the rug and hope it never rears its ugly head. To walk in holiness and true spiritual accountability, we must hate our own sin as much as we hate the sin in others. And the first step to doing this is stepping into the light.

5 Exhortations from God's Word

In our pursuit of accountability, God has given us ample wisdom in His Word. As you seek to walk in the light, consider these 5 exhortations from Scripture:

  1. Embrace confession as a blessing, not as something to be feared. "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed" (James 5:16a).
  2. Surround yourself with godly people who care more about your soul than your ego. "Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses" (Proverbs 27:6).
  3. Take personal responsibility for your sin instead of blaming it on circumstances or people. "Each one should test their own actions. . . . for each one should carry their own load" (Galatians 6:4a, 5).
  4. Realize your own propensity to sin, lest you fall into pride. "But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted" (Galatians 6:1b).
  5. Whether you're the one giving or receiving accountability, remember the love and power of Christ, who forgives sins and transforms hearts. "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us" (Ephesians 1:7-8a).

So what does true accountability look like? We need to know each other's struggles and be vulnerable, remembering the Truth of Hebrews 4:15-16:

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."

 
Remember that we are fallen with a sinful flesh that does what we do not want it to do. Our victory over temptation is dependent on our focus on Jesus Christ, our surrender to the Holy Spirit at work in us, and our willingness to surround ourselves with others who are also focused on Him. Our lives are not our own!

4 Specific Tips for Digital Accountability

In our aim to submit ourselves fully to the Lord, let's consider the following practical ways to make ourselves accountable to others, specifically in the Digital Age. If your phone, tablet, computer, or TV are causing you to stumble, here are some ways to "cut if off and throw it away" (Matthew 5:30), so to speak:

  1. Be proactive in removing anonymity and secrecy. Give those close to you your passwords or access codes so they can check on you from time to time. You can also keep your computer in common areas or set them aside to remove temptation. 
  2. Use monitoring services like Covenant Eyes that can allow an accountability partner to check on your internet and app usage. Remember that iron sharpens iron, and your accountability partner can challenge you to keep clear of questionable sites or lessen your social media time.
  3. Read your Bible and meditate on Truth (see Philippians 4:8). No matter how hard you try, you cannot simply ‘be better' on your own. Spend time in prayer, meditating on God's Truth, surrendering to the Holy Spirit, and feasting on Christ—the only one who can satisfy your soul's deepest cravings.
  4. Ask God to expose any hidden sin in your heart, that you may confess and repent. Sanctification is a process, so we should constantly seek the Lord's revelation in our lives.

 

It's clear in Scripture that accountability has always been God's desire for us. The influence of technology has made this Truth even more critical today. In a time when anonymity abounds and sinning privately is easy, we must seek the Lord's face and allow ourselves to be vulnerable before His people. We must humble ourselves and realize that true accountability will enable us to rest in God's grace, find freedom in His love, and allow Him to strengthen us to overcome temptation.

In Encountering Christ, Part 1: Freedom from Bondage, Dr. Michael Youssef shares how the power of Christ can free you from spiritual bondage.