Summary: Mutual accountability is important to the life and health of the individual and to the life and health of the church. How do we handle the difficult task of mutual accountability? And how can it help us grow as followers of Jesus?

Diagnosing the Check Engine Light


It is probably the most annoying sight in my car. No, I’m not talking about trash on the floorboard or the rust on the wheel wells. I’m talking about a check engine light. And I am talking about a check engine light that stays lit.

The problem isn’t the light itself. The problem is that this indicator light is so general in nature. When it stays lit it can it can mean one of 1000 different things is wrong with my car. Sometimes it’s something as simple as the gas cap not being tight enough. Sometimes it indicates a simple problem that if not corrected can become more serious.

Sometimes the light itself indicates a serious problem already.


Have you ever had the check engine light stay lit in your car? What do you do? I have a friend whose check engine light stayed lit so he took a piece of black tape and covered it up. In essence, he denied that there was any problem.

You know what I do? I usually take my vehicle to O‘Reileys. The man or woman behind the counter comes out to my car with this hand held tool which they then plug in.

That device pulls the error code from the car’s computer that is tripping the check engine light. He then looks in a book that tells him one of the possible problems, how serious it is, and how to resolve it.


We continue our series of messages on Spiritual Growth and the tools we have in our tool box. We have been discussing the disciplines that we need to put into practice if we want to grow in maturity in Jesus Christ. Our theme text has been the fruit of the Spirit given in Galatians 5. We have been talking about the characteristics of a mature Christian who is walking in step with the Holy Spirit. We have talked about maturing being a more and more thing.

So we are exploring ways we can intentionally become

More and more loving,

More and more joyful,

More and more peaceful,

More and more patient,

More and more kind,

More and more gentle,

More and more faithful,

More and more self controlled.

We have talked about the power tool – Prayer – RRR, RRR, RRR. We have talked about the specialty tool – Fasting (Cover mouth with hand). Today we talk about the diagnostic tool. We are going to talk about the need we all have to plug in when things are going wrong. Today I hope we discover how costly covering up the check engine light with black tape can be. And we are going to talk about how plugging in might help diagnose the problem.

I think we’ve all had periods in our life where the check engine light is on.

You marriage is falling apart and you don’t know why. Your family is constantly at each other’s throats. You can’t seem to overcome that impulsive behavior. You can’t seem to get our of debt.

There’s something wrong; the check engine light is on; we just can’t diagnose it exactly.

So what do we do?

Turn with me to Galatians 6:1-3.

Galatians 6:1

1 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.

When I first read this passage I wondered what Paul meant by “caught in sin” in verse one. I read it at first and thought maybe Paul was taking about being caught red-handed.

As in “if you catch someone in the act of sin….”

So I looked up the original meaning of the word caught. I don’t think that’s what Paul means. The meaning of the word “Caught’ actually means overtaken by in surprise. It is a word that means “trapped by” ; caught up in; or ensnared by something.

Instead of thinking just in terms of being caught red handed, we could read the text this way.

“If a fellow brother or sister is trapped (or overcome) by sin, you who live by the spirit should restore him/her gently. Sin can quickly ensnare people. We can quickly become buried in the muck and messiness that sin brings. And self reliance is not the most effective weapon in dealing with it when we have become overwhelmed by it.

In fact, I think we can see behind what Paul is writing is the idea that

Observation about Sin:

We should not always trust ourselves in trying to diagnose a problem.

Sin at it’s core is self deception. We lie to ourselves often about sin. Sometimes we need someone else to help us gain a better perspective.

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Doug Fannon

commented on Apr 13, 2018

Great insight! One of the best spiritual tools in our toolbox (aside from the Fruit of the Spirit) is the fellowship of other believers to whom we are accountable. Your message was a huge help in preparing a message of the same subject! Thanks!

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