Family Counseling Ministries -
Man's search for ways to explain and to "cope" with his problems has produced many interesting and often conflicting theories such as: man is basically good and is able to live up to this potential; man has been victimized by his conscience, leaving him insecure and in need of resocialization; man is just a high-level animal who has been conditioned by his environment and needs to be reprogrammed; man's basic problem is a lack of self-esteem and an inability to love himself.
These are only a few of the most popular theories currently being used in the counseling field. All of these theories are predictably contrary to God's Word, since they have been devised by man operating outside the divine revelation of God (I Corinthians 2:14).
DEPENDING ON THE BIBLE
Is it necessary to turn to these worldly counseling theories and techniques to solve problems of living? Isn't it possible that understanding and overcoming life's problems can be accomplished by applying biblical truths?
The Bible itself states that the truths contained within it are entirely sufficient to enable a person to live a life pleasing to God (II Peter 1:3-4). It provides all the needed principles and guidance for understanding our mental processes, analyzing our emotional responses, and exercising control over our behavior. The laws, testimonies, precepts, commandments, judgments, and principles in the Old and New Testaments provide the only authoritative guide for man's thoughts, words, and actions (Psalm 19:7-14; Hebrews 4:12).
The promises and authority of God contained in His Word offer the basis for a vital and abundant life. The Scripture contains the solutions to every problem of attitude, relationship, communication, conduct, and behavior (II Timothy 3:16-17).
DEVELOPING BIBLICAL HABITS
Biblical principles can be applied in a systematic manner to overcome any problem of life and are not a mixture of man-contrived theories sprinkled with a few Bible verses unrelated to problem solving. Instead, these biblical principles provide the essential foundation for any person to change his unbiblical patterns of living and establish new habits of biblical behavior. While extensive and unalterable, these biblical principles are not meant to be all inclusive due to the living and active characteristics of God's Word (Hebrews 4:12).
In counseling that is true to God's Word, a biblical counselor will collect enough information to enable him to recognize and understand the problem in order to formulate the biblical solution. Counselees are encouraged to confront the failures and shortcomings of their personal lives from a biblical point of view (Matthew 7:1-5). In doing this, they should begin to see the necessity of turning their focus away from their own desires(II Corinthians 5:14-15; Galatians 5:17, 19-21; James 4:1-3) and should determine to live in a manner pleasing to God (II Corinthians 5:9; Ephesians 4:1-3; Colossians 1:10-12).
In order for biblical counseling to be effective, both the counselor and the counselee must be deeply committed to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the authority of God's Word. They must be continually committed to "walk in a manner worthy of the Lord to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God" (Colossians 1:10). This commitment will change a person's focus from loving self to a focus on loving God and loving others in response to God's gracious love demonstrated in Jesus Christ (Matthew 18:21-35; Romans 5:8; Ephesians 4:32; l John 4:11).
APPLICATION OF BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES
Even if the counselee has little or no concept of a biblical relationship with God and a limited knowledge of what is meant by a sincere commitment to Christ, biblical counseling can be extremely effective. As the biblical counselor continually focuses the counselee's attention on the authority and sufficiency of Scripture and explores the counselee's problems from a biblical standpoint, the necessity for a wholehearted commitment to Christ will be repeatedly presented. As the counselee begins to view his problems from a biblical standpoint, he will begin to understand that the peace and joy promised by God do not depend on his financial situation, his work environment, the behavior of his spouse, or on any other external circumstance. A discouraged or despondent counselee can gain great hope as he learns from Scripture that God's peace and joy can be his as he depends solely on his relationship with God through Jesus Christ (John 14:27, 16:33).
BIBLICAL ANALYSIS OF A PROBLEM
In analyzing problems from a scriptural perspective, biblical counselors recognize three levels of every problem.
1. THE FEELING OR PERCEPTION LEVEL
A person will often seek counseling when there is a disruption or discomfort of feelings, most notably a lack of peace and joy. Following a scriptural pattern, biblical counselors carefully explore the feeling level of a problem in order to define the nature of the problem being presented and the what, when, where, and how of the problem as depicted in Genesis 3:8-13, 4:6; I Kings 19:9-14; Proverbs 18:13, 17; Luke 24:13-35; John 20:11-18.
2. THE DOING LEVEL
Biblical counselors attempt to help the counselee identify specific thoughts, words, and actions which violate biblical injunctions. A person focused on self tends to allow his feelings to dictate his behavior, regardless of what effect this may have on others. Living by one's feelings inevitably leads to doing the wrong things, which leads to more problems and further violations of biblical principles. For our instruction (Romans 15:4), numerous examples of this self-centered pattern of behavior are given in Scripture (Genesis 3:6-13, 4:5-8, 37:11-33; II Samuel 11:1-27, 13:1-33; II Chronicles 26:16-21).
However, God's Word says that all of one's thoughts, words, and actions should result from a commitment to please God by obeying Him (John 14:15; II Corinthians 5:9-15; Colossians 1:10). When a counselee begins to obey God, regardless of his feelings (Romans 6:12-13; II Corinthians 5:15; Galatians 5:17), then God's promised blessings are available to him (Genesis 4:7; James 1:25). Foremost among these blessings are lasting peace, joy, and righteousness (Romans 14:17).
PROBLEMS CAN BE OVERCOME
While trials and tribulations are a part of life, God has a purpose for all of them (Romans 5:3-5, 8:28; James 1:2-4). No matter what difficulties arise, God has promised that a believer in Christ can be an overcomer in every situation (Romans 8:35-37; I Corinthians 10:13; I John 5:4-5) as he responds in obedience to God's Word (James 1:25). Even though obedience to God may not be easy (Romans 7:18-19), it can be done as a response of love for what Jesus Christ has accomplished for a believer (John 14:15; Romans chapter 6; l John 5:3; II John 1:6). Following the example of our Lord Jesus Christ, a child of God is to remain obedient even during times of suffering (Hebrews 5:8; I Peter 2:20-22), looking beyond present circumstances to the glory that will be revealed (Romans 8:18; II Corinthians 4:16-18).Today, there is a critical need in the Body of Christ to return to the exclusive use of God's Word in overcoming personal problems and counseling others to do likewise in their difficulties (II Corinthians 1:3-5). The biblical principles contained in the courses of study are based solely on the Word of God and not on human assumptions, opinions, experiences, theories, or any other secular philosophies.
PRESUPPOSITIONS OF BIBLICAL COUNSELING
In His Word, God has given us everything we need to live in a manner that pleases Him (II Peter 1:3-4). We must not integrate man's theories with biblical truth in order to face and deal with our problems and live a victorious life. As a matter of fact, Scripture promises us that when we seek to place God's Word on a level with man's thinking, serious consequences occur (Proverbs 1:22-32, 14:12, 30:5-6; Isaiah 5:20-21; Romans 8:6-8; I Corinthians 3:1 9-20).
Biblical counseling is based upon the biblical teaching that we will each give an account of ourselves to God. Even though believers in Christ will not be condemned for their sins in eternity as will unbelievers, there are consequences for sins (Ezekiel 18:20; Colossians 3:25). Counselees are shown that they are responsible before God solely for their own thoughts, words, and actions and that they are not responsible for changing anyone else's life .In learning to assume responsibility for one's own behavior, a counselee needs to understand the conflict between his old self and his new nature in Christ. A counselee must determine, by an act of his will, to lay aside his old way of life with its lusts and deception and to begin to act in a way that reflects the new Christ-like nature God has given him (Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 3:5-17). A counselee must develop godly patterns of thought, speech, and actions if he is to have a renewed mind and be successful in living a life that corresponds to the new nature (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:23-24).
ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF BIBLICAL COUNSELlNG
In every biblical counseling session, four elements are emphasized:
1. UNDERSTANDING THE PROBLEM
Gaining God's perspective on any difficulty is important for those involved in facing and dealing with problems biblically (Proverbs 3:5-6; Isaiah 55:8-9; Romans 5:3-5, 8:28-29; James 1:2-4). You must begin to look honestly at yourself in light of God's Word (Matthew 7:1-5; Luke 6:42-49; I Corinthians 11:31). Understanding a problem requires that biblical inquiry be made (Proverbs 18:13, 17; II Timothy 3:16-17; James 1:19) and truthful answers be given (Ephesians 4:15, 25), in order for the total spectrum of the problem to be revealed (Mark 7:20-23; James 1:22-25, 4:17).A biblical counselor asks questions and listens carefully to the responses so sufficient facts can be gathered to understand the problem. God's solutions are practical and personally applicable to every person's problems, so it is necessary to address the true problems - not merely "fix the feeling" or manipulate the circumstances (Proverbs 18:2, 13; James 1:19).
In His Word, God has promised that He will not let you be tried or tempted, suffer "stress" or anxiety, or face any problem beyond your endurance. Instead He will provide ample help and direction in every situation as you deal with the problem His way (I Corinthians 10:13; Hebrews 4:15-16). The biblical counselor can confidently assure the counselee that there is hope in every situation. The counselor demonstrates this hope from the Scripture whenever it is needed.
You must learn how to lay aside (or "put off") the old self-centered habits and destructive thoughts (such as anxiety, bitterness, and resentment). Instead, you are to "put on" biblical patterns of thought, words, and action (Romans 6:6-7, 12-13; Ephesians 4:22-32; Philippians 4:6-9; Colossians 3:5-17).
You must take action to put God's solutions into practice in your everyday activities. If you hear the Word and do not put it into practice, you deceive yourself and your problems become worse. But if you become a doer of the Word, God has promised that you will be blessed and will experience His peace and joy in spite of any turmoil around you (Psalm 85:8-10; Isaiah 32:17; John 15:10-12, 16:33; Hebrews 5:14; James 1:22-25, 3:14-18; I Peter 3:8-12).
Biblical counselors believe in considering your total health. Some problems are organic in origin. It is recommended that a complete physical exam be performed to rule out purely physical causes. It is also recognized that wrong behavior and sinful attitudes can bring on a host of medical problems. Whenever possible, a relationship needs to be established with a conscientious Christian physician to help evaluate physical issues.
Family Counseling Ministries
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