Summary: A sermon on accountability starting with Joshua 7 (Outline and material adapted from Daniel Overdorf's book, What the Bible Says About the Church: Rediscovering Community, Chapter 3 Communally Responsible, pages 80-93)

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On a cruise ship, some stewards and sailors became concerned about a clanging noise from one of the cabins. They forced open the door to this cabin and saw that a man was taking a pick ax to the side of the boat. The stewards and sailors restrained this man and asked him, “What are you doing, if you manage to put a hole in the side of the ship, we will take on water and might sink?” The man said, “How dare you! I bought this cabin and what I do in it is my business. What do you care, it’s on my side of the ship?!”


“Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”” Genesis 4:9, NIV. Even though God did not respond directly to Cain, much of the Bible responds with a “Yes” we are responsible for our neighbors.

N.T. Wright says this (recognize some of this from yesteryear): Anyone growing up in an average African town has dozens of friends up and down the street; indeed, many children live within to our eyes would look like a massive and confusing extended family, with virtually every adult within walking distance being treated as an honorary aunt or uncle in a way that is unimaginable to many of us. In such a community, there exist multiple networks of support, encouragement, rebuke, and warning, all of this keeps everyone together and gives people a shared sense of direction or at least, when things are bad, a shared sense of misfortune. Those who live our in our society don’t even realize what they’re missing. In fact, many might be alarmed at the thought of all that togetherness. In such a community, everyone is in it together, for good or ill.

When someone becomes a Christian, he or she enters a community in which individuals hold responsibility for one another, where “everyone is in to together, for good or ill.” When we belong to the church, our actions- whether positive or negative- impact everyone.

Thesis: Let’s talk about accountability this morning

For instances:

The Community Accountable to God

Sharing the guilt of the individual

God’s people stand accountable for any sin that infects the community, the church. Elders and other leaders are concerned because they must given an account, but all of us should be concerned because in some way we are all accountable.

Considering this, the OT gives various laws, and on 10 occasions Moses repeats this same phrase, “You must purge the evil from among you.” Those who had infected the community with sin could no longer remain a part of the community; in fact, they faced the punishment of death- usually a stoning at the hands of the community. This communal execution of justice demonstrated corporate responsibility for sin, and corporate desire for purity.

Achan’s folly

An example of this lies in the story of Achan, recorded in Joshua 7. Immediately after the walls of Jericho fell down, Joshua 7:1.

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