We call it accountability. Beginning in 2001, I had the privilege each and every Friday afternoon to meet with two women for mutual encouragement and prayer. We did this for several years and remain accountable to each other to this day. The reasons we started meeting were simple: we were young Christians wanting encouragement in our walk with God. We wanted to build a deeper more meaningful friendship with a few women. And we were girls and loved any excuse to hang out and eat together.
It was a real friendship. The purpose of our meeting was simple but the benefits were endless and life-changing.
For Our Protection
We know that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. When I first became a Christian, I freely confessed my sin because I was acutely aware of God's grace and forgiveness. I knew the depths of my heart and what it meant to be forgiven much. But then came knowledge, which coupled with strides in godliness, can lead to pride (1 Corinthians 8:1). As I grew I began to subtly believe I should "know better" than to sin -- as if the temptation to anger or envy were beyond me. Accountability was a good reminder that it was okay to be needy for God's grace. It reminded me that I am sinner and that, because of Jesus, God is faithful to forgive (1 John 1:8–10).
Consistent accountability has been a means of God's protection in my life. To this day, though I'm further along in my walk than I was a decade ago, I do not believe I'm incapable of grievous sin (1 Corinthians 10:12). I am a new creation, and I have the Spirit's power, but it's no longer a surprise that when I want to do good, evil is close at hand (Romans 7:21). Understanding that we are all batting on the same team (all have sinned) means we can freely share with these close, trusted friends. Accountability allows us to confess patterns of temptation and in so doing we are restrained from actual transgression.
[Read the rest of the article at Desiring God.]