What Is Accountability?

Matthew 10:36


This “household” not only speaks of the immediate family, but, as well, of one’s Church family. Millions have died eternally lost because they allowed their family to come in between them and God, and, the greatest number lost has come about because individuals allowed their “Church household” to take pre-eminence over Christ. This is probably the greatest culprit of all, and because of its heavy religious connotations. If the Church comes before Christ, then the Church has become an idol, as surely as the heathen idols of old. Tragically, this is not an isolated case, but is rather, and sadly so, the rule!

I wrote a short article some time ago for our publication, “THE EVANGELIST,” on the subject of “Accountability,” and feel that it would be worthwhile to reprint. It is as follows:

The question was, “To whom are you accountable?”

The answer is as follows:

Having heard that question asked scores of times in the last few years, virtually every time it has been asked it has been from an unscriptural perspective.

I am assuming that the one posing this question desires a Scriptural answer, since any other answer is of no value whatsoever.

Some time back, a friend of mine was going to a place to conduct a series of meetings. She was called by a particular Preacher and asked the very question of my subject, “To whom are you accountable?”

I don’t know her answer to him, but had she asked him the same question, more than likely he would have given the name of one or more Preachers.


Webster’s Dictionary says that the words, “accountable,” or “accountability” simply mean “to furnish a justifying analysis or its explanation.”

However, the word, “accountability,” is really not the correct word for this subject, even though it is used constantly. The real word is “accountant,” which means “one who gives an account or is accountable.” This definition has nothing to do with the system of recording and summarizing business and financial transactions.

To boil away all the froth from the top, and despite all the noble and lofty statements, it simply means that some man or group of men, desire to serve as a “hierarchy” above a person in order to tell him what he should and should not do. In the field of religion, probably more blood has been spilled over this than anything else, and, as well, more people, as stated, have died lost because of it.

While accountability to a hierarchy in the civil, political, and business world is acceptable and necessary, such practices have no place or part in the Work of God. Religious men, attempting to bring the ways of the world into the Ways of God have been the bane of the Church from the time of Adam and Eve.

This concept of accountability, as used by the Modern Church, is the way of the world and not of God. To bring the system of the world into the Church is sure death because it always necessitates a departure from the Word of God. God’s Ways are not man’s ways and never will be!

Therefore, if the reader desires man’s ways, then to read further will be a waste of time. However, if the reader desires God’s Ways, perhaps the balance of this statement will be of some benefit.


Modern religious accountability (and religious it is) in the truest sense of the word, demands that there be a mediator between the individual and God, with a man or men serving in that position. However, the Scripture says, “For there is One God, and One Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” (I Tim. 2:5).

Actually, the entire Catholic Church is built on this premise, claiming the Priest as a “mediator” between God and men. In fact, such a circumstance was correct under the old economy of God with the Law of Moses. In that time, Priests after the Aaronic Priesthood actually did serve as mediators between God and men. However, upon the First Advent of Christ and His finished work at Calvary and the Resurrection, He Alone serves as our Great High Priest (Heb. 3:1; 4:14; 5:6; 8:1–6). Consequently, those who would desire to serve as modern “mediators,” or “Priests,” are somewhat late. They will need to go back about 3,000 years, become a Jew, belong to the Tribe of Levi, and be after the lineage of Aaron.


Regrettably, Catholics are not the only ones who claim a mediatorship between God and men: the Protestant world is not far behind, although not nearly as practiced at it.

One Evangelist of my acquaintance was heralded far and wide as being the example of “accountability,” because he had submitted himself to a group of Preachers, and, consequently, was accountable to them.

In my presence, a man stood to his feet and related with glowing reports this outstanding (as he thought) position. When he had finished, I quietly asked him how this “accountability” could really be considered as such, especially considering that this Evangelist would see these particular Preachers only once or twice a year?

Especially among the Charismatics, this foolishness is rife as men love to lord it over other men, and, surprisingly enough, some men love being lorded over.


Religious Denominations practice this same type of “accountability.” It is thought that if one is associated with a Religious Denomination, this spells “accountability,” while, at the same time, pointing to a lack of “accountability” in all those who do not belong to such Denominations.

However, a little common sense should inform one that the accountability that God demands could hardly be carried out under the scrutinizing eye of Denominational Heads who may see a Preacher only once a year, if that!

No! Associating oneself with a Religious Denomination affords no type of accountability of the type that the Lord will accept. The same must be said for all man-made groups.

Men love to say that they are accountable to certain groups, which in their eyes or in the eyes of others give them status and credibility. Conversely, men love to say that certain others are accountable to them, which makes them feel important.

Those who will not join or associate with this type of thinking are labeled “lone rangers,” and, therefore, as the thinking goes, they must have something to hide. If not, they would certainly desire to be “accountable” to some individual or group, wouldn’t they!

The Truth is, it is very easy to be accountable to men, that is, if one does not desire to obey God. It is easy because men can easily lie to other men, which they constantly do. However, one cannot lie to God. It’s not what men think that matters anyway; it is what God knows.

The Apostle Paul said, “But they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” (II Cor. 10:12).

What is Scriptural accountability?

Throughout the entire Word of God, man is importuned, even commanded, to look to God and not to other men. This entire scenario began in the Garden of Eden with Adam listening to his wife instead of the Lord. Then it followed with Cain listening to himself or others, rather than the Word of the Lord, offering up his own man-made sacrifice instead of what God commanded (Gen. 4:3–8).

Israel’s problem was listening to other nations instead of Jehovah. The Early Church was faced with this at its very beginning. The Apostles were commanded “not to speak at all nor teach in the Name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye” (Acts 4:18–19).

While all Believers should appreciate fellow Believers and, when appropriate, actively seek their counsel and advice, the only thing owed one another is love.

In Romans 13:1–7, Paul, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, laid down the criteria for obedience with respect to human governments and civil rulers. He said that, “every soul” must be “subject” to these higher powers.

However, that applies only to civil government; it has nothing to do with the Work of God.

When he came to the Work of God, he said that no Christian owed any other Christian anything except to “love one another.” He went on to say, “He that loveth another hath fulfilled the Law.” He was speaking of the Law of Moses (Rom. 13:8–10).

In other words, no Christian owes Religious Leaders or any other Christians obedience and subjection the way he does civil authorities. The Scriptures, as we have quoted, are plain regarding that.

Some men enjoy being accountable to others, at least as the world describes accountability, because they do not want to shoulder responsibility themselves.

~J. Swaggart Ministry

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