Author: Ron Graham
Accountability to God
—The moment of truth
There is a moment of truth, sometime in the future, which no one can escape. In the day of judgment, every person: black or white; male or female; rich or poor; young or old; bond or free; all must render to God a personal account.
Giving account to God will be the ultimate "moment of truth" because the God to whom we are accountable, is a God who sees all things as naked and open. Nothing can be hidden from him. (Matt 12:36-37, Romans 14:12, 1Pet 4:5, Hebrews 4:13).
Providence has sufficiently influenced the human environment, that all mankind though diverse in culture may learn so much of God’s law in the formative years of life as to become accountable to God. Everyone’s conscience becomes sufficiently well taught that the self can defend or accuse self in line with God’s law.
On the other side, the dark side, Satanic powers have sufficiently influenced the human environment, that all humanity may be deceived and enticed sufficiently to leave the instruction of a good conscience, and do what is evil (Romans 2:14-16, Ephesians 6:12 James 1:12-16).
2 Free will
The human being's free will allows the self to choose between good and evil. Nobody is born with a bent, one way or the other, but neutral, able to listen equally to all the influences and voices around them, and to make a choice between them —between the voices and influences of Providence on one hand, and Darkness on the other.
In most cases, the choice is made for good, otherwise society would collapse; yet though greatly stressed, society is generally far from collapsing, because the good influence of Providence wins the majority vote in daily life at large.
Nevertheless, nobody is consistent in this choice; and people everywhere sometimes choose evil. Indeed, nobody is found to be faultless, the consciences of all accuse them of some wrongdoing. All people, even generally good people, know in their hearts that they are guilty on several counts before God.
This general condemnation of mankind is no unfair blanket condemnation, but the sum of God’s separate and meticulously impartial judgments of individuals, based on each one's personal accountability in an environment where it is always possible to do right, and one ought to do right, yet doing right is very difficult at times (Romans 3:9,23, Romans 5:12).
Becoming accountable to God is a matter of development, a learning process. When the scripture says, "I became a man, I put away childish things" (1Cor 13:11), none of us imagines this happened in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.
Growth from childhood to adulthood is, of course, a development over time. We may well mark its completion, and say one has reached womanhood or manhood, but none of us claims it happened of a sudden. In the same way, the losing of innocence, and the getting of accountability, is a development over time.
"The Age of Accountability"
It may be said that one "has reached the age of accountability" but this is not scriptural language, and may indeed be misleading. When God holds folk accountable for sin, their ages are hardly more relevant than their heights or weights.
It is understandable that one should ask at what stage of life one’s child will lose innocence and stand among the number of the damned. This question, however, is not profitably pursued, for it is vexed with imponderables —one might as well ask when will a butterfly get where it's going.
Responsibility for Another’s Accountability
It is not our responsibility to judge another's accountability to God, however we are responsible for whatever input we may be able to make. There are three main responsibilities here:
- Teaching ~ We help people to become accountable to God without condemnation, by teaching them the gospel. For instance, we bring up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4) to help them build a good relationship with him, free of guilt and ignorance.
- Example ~ We set a pattern for others to follow, especially for our children (Ephesians 4:17-32, Ephesians 5:15-16).
- Prayer ~ We direct the good providence of God toward those for whom we pray, and diminish for them the influence of Darkness. In this way we increase their opportunities to choose right and shun evil (Ephesians 1:15-18).