What is Biblical Counseling?

Title: What is Biblical Counseling?
Text: Matthew 4:4, Psalm 119:105, Psalm 1:1-3
Time: May 14th, 2015

A few weeks ago I criticized state laws that exist in such states as California, New Jersey, and so forth, that ban so-called repairative therapy for persons with homosexual tendencies. I said it’s no business of the state what a person or a minor’s parents in conjunction with their child want to do as far as counseling is concerned. From a Christian perspective homosexuality is a disorder that needs to be treated, not accepted as morally acceptable. I’m against all laws that would ban Christian counseling for homosexuals seeking corrective help. A little while later I criticized transsexual Bruce Jenner for promoting so-called “gender reassignment surgery” – that is the mutilating or mutating of the body in order to conform it to the mental disorder of transgenderism that convinces someone they are a “man trapped in a women’s body” or a “woman trapped in a man’s body” and therefore need to rearrange themselves to “transition” from one sex to another. Instead, I advocated Christian counseling in order to get their thinking in line with the body God Almighty gave them at birth. I would suggest that Bruce Jenner concentrate on bringing his mind in line with God’s assigned sex, the sex given to him at birth, rather than attempt to rebel against God’s created order and transmutate himself into something else through cut and paste surgery and altering his body chemistry. It’s obviously more rational to work on the mind than the body, since it’s the mind that is disordered not the body. If Bruce Jenner were to take my pastoral advice and seek Christian counseling to correct his conflicted and divided mind, what would that actually mean? How would such counseling take place? Well to be honest, it would involve nothing different, in essence, than working on any other counseling situation – only it might involve more time and effort. But isn’t that part of the Christian life anyway? “Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come. Tis grace that brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home,” Amazing Great, classic Christian hymn. It would involve a simple process of examining God’s Word, divine revelation from heaven to mankind, and finding out what it says about any particular problem. Then it would involve seriously reflecting upon the truths found in God’s Word in relation to the particular human problem. Finally, it involves applying God’s Word, after having integrated it with a particular life problem, into an action plan that would involve time and effort, but would yield progress and ultimately success or improvement in the person’s specific condition or problem. In respect to Bruce Jenner, it would mean his thinking and feelings would begin to reflect the sex and gender that he is, male, and his mind would begin to come into align with his body, thus bringing health and healing. Let me explain further.

First, It would involve a simple process of examining God’s Word and finding out what it says about any particular problem. Matthew 4:4, “Jesus answered, ‘It is written: Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Here’s a good place to begin, for example, if we were to sit down with someone like a Bruce Jenner or someone with homosexual tendencies seeking help from God. The passage I just quoted comes from a scene in the life of Jesus Christ when he was tempted by the devil in the wilderness. He was being tempted by Satan to depart from the will of God by believing the lies presented to him. Against the lies of the devil Jesus quotes the Old Testament passage Deuteronomy 8:3 that says man lives by the words or truths of God. That’s instructive for many a person’s problem, but in respect to the problem of homosexuality or gender identity issues in general it’s particularly applicable. Why? Because with sexual confusion the person dealing with the disorder is being tempted to believe lies about himself or herself. A man who is tempted by homosexuality is tempted to believe that he should really seek out a member of the same sex for intimacy. A woman tempted by lesbianism is tempted to believe that she should seek out a member to the same sex for intimacy. Someone like Bruce Jenner is tempted to believe the lie that he should attempt to “transition” from male to female in order to find fulfillment or inner peace. These are all lies of the devil, just as surely as any of the lies Jesus faced in the wilderness when he was tempted. What did Jesus use when he was tempted? He used the Word of God. He quoted the Bible, the Old Testament, against the lies. That’s what people seeking counseling need to do today. It really doesn’t matter what the particular counseling issue is, whether marriage, family, career, personal issues, sexual issues, or whatever. The Christian and the Christian counselor together must start with the Word of God and determine what God has said about the issue. Some people are ignorant of the Bible, so they especially need help in identifying what God says about their problem; so they seek a Christian counselor to help them. Some people know what the Bible says, but just need someone else to reinforce what they already know and to enter into the healing process with them so they don’t have to go it alone. That’s fine. The Christian counselor will start with God’s Word and seek to find answers in it concerning the person’s problem, not, as is typical in secular counseling, start with the person and build everything around their wants and needs. The truth is we all need God to help us define what our true wants and needs are, so again, that calls for a close examination of God’s Word in order to find the truth. But this is only the first step.

Second, Then it would involve seriously reflecting upon the truths found in God’s Word in relation to the particular human problem. Psalm 119:105, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Now once we identify the key biblical passages that relate to a particular counseling situation or problem, we then begin to reflect on those passages in conjunction with the person’s particular problem. For example, in the Bruce Jenner situation, the counselor would want to go through the words of Jesus in Matthew 19 where he talks about God the Father from the beginning making male and female – and the implications of this truth in relation to everyone born. Then the counselor and the person seeking counseling might go to Genesis 1 and 2 and examine the verse that Jesus quotes in his New Testament teaching in Matthew and explore all the implications there. And in this same manner the two work there way through the key biblical verses and letting the profound truths sink in, explaining what isn’t clear and building conviction in the soul that these are the key and essential truths that one must build life upon. A big problem in our culture today is that most people are grossly ignorant of even basic Bible truths. But beyond this problem, most people today don’t believe these truths anymore, which then cause them to dismiss the key and essential truths they need to be healthy. So part of the counseling goal is to not only examine God’s Word for important truths that apply to each counseling situation, it’s also to build confidence in the person that these truths are very important to believe in order to receive healing. If the person isn’t firmly committed to God through Jesus Christ pray can take place, commitment can be made, and full faith and confidence in God can be established, since this will be very important for the process of biblical counseling to succeed. If the person isn’t a Christian, then they can be led to commitment. If they aren’t seriously committed to the Lord, they can also be led to a deeper commitment through prayer and profession of faith. After all, the problem probably isn’t merely a mental or emotional problem, there’s probably a spiritual problem somewhere underneath it all. In Bruce Jenner’s case, from all indications, there definitely is a spiritual problem. From what I can gather, he’s a selfish and narcissistic (self-focused and vain) person. This might come out in the counseling session and be dealt with as well, since it would definitely contribute to the sexual identity problem. The process of discussing biblical passages and connecting with the person’s problem will take time, meaning, a number of different sessions, depending on the full scope of the issue. But it must be done in order to obtain healing. But there’s another step.

Third, Finally, it involves applying God’s Word, after having integrated it with a particular life problem, into an action plan. Psalm 1:1-3, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of the mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields his fruit in season and whose leaf does not whither. Whatever he does prospers.” If I were counseling Bruce Jenner I would walk him through the key and important biblical passages that pertain to his problem, and we would talk about these, not just for a few minutes, but for hours during multiple sessions, until he begins to internalize God’s truth into his heart, mind and soul. These truths must become the highest reality for his life, not the information he’d be getting out in the world, from television, radio, newspapers, magazines, the Internet or friend and family. There’s a lot of bad information out in the world – and a lot of outright lies circulating. Anybody who wants the help of God to heal them needs to make God’s Word the number one reality in their thinking rather than simply accept the false and misleading assumptions of the world. That same message would apply to someone seeking pastoral help for homosexual tendencies. It is essential that they stop feeding from the trough of the world, and stop drinking from the polluted streams of the modern times. This popularized idea of homosexuality, gay or lesbian, is a lie. The new popularity of transgenderism is also a lie. What Bruce Jenner is doing is the result of him buying into the LGBT propaganda lie that in order to find wholeness one must follow their deviancies wherever they may lead. The truth is, deviancy should be discouraged and resisted as a temptation of the devil. The lies that lead a person to follow that path must be rebuked, just as surely as Jesus rebuked the devil’s lies in the wilderness with the Word of God. So if Bruce Jenner came into my church office and wanted pastoral counseling I’d take him to the Bible and try to lead him into commitment to Christ and into commitment to God’s Word. Then I’d walk him through the key passages that pertain to his problem. Then I’d prescribe a spiritual and mental diet for him to follow that involved starving worldly inputs and sources, and feeding good, godly inputs and sources in order to break the power of the lies he currently holds in his heart and mind, and replace those lies with the truth of God found in the Bible passages that apply to his problem.

I quoted Psalm 1 because it is a helpful paradigm for an action plan. The first part talks about avoiding the influences of certain people, places and things. That’s key. You can’t get healing for a disorder if you keep going back to the same old unhealthy places. Those old patterns need to be broken. Of course, there needs to be follow-up counseling sessions, telephone calls and other communications between counselor and the person in need of help because the process isn’t always smooth. People fall, they fail to follow the plan. They need to pick themselves back up and get back on the right path. We’d talk about the bad influences out there, bad habits, bad associations, bad reading material, bad places visited, and so forth. Many or most of these need to be eliminated, sometimes all at once, other times gradually. The goal is to cut the unhealthy parts of our lifestyle out and replace them with healthy activities. That’s where the second part of the verse comes in. For counseling to work the person will have to continue to reflect and meditate on the Bible, particularly the key passages that pertain to their problem. This will bring the truth of God into their life. This will strengthen their resolve. This will heal their hurts and help them resist temptation. What did Jesus say? “May does not live on bread alone but by every word that comes from God.” The person must begin to feed on the Word of God for their very life and health. Again, it’s a matter of getting the mind, emotions and soul in line with God, and not letting the lies of the world or our own sinful flesh or the devil influence us any longer. Those lies will be out there and in there, but they must be resisted. They can be resisted if we stay close to God, through prayer, through reading and reflecting on his Word, and through living out the truth in life. Finally, the verse talks about how God’s Word produces good fruit in one’s life like a tree growing by an abundant source of water. That’s the goal of Christian counseling – to help get the Word of God into a person’s heart, mind, soul and life in order to see them grow into a strong Christian who can live by the truth and resist the temptation to depart from God’s will. This will come about as we grow closer to God through the means I’ve outlined here. The whole homosexual and transgender movement is based on a lie that says God isn’t enough, his truth can’t heal disorders, therefore give way to one’s own carnal desires or the world’s or the devil’s lies. Wrong. God is enough. His Word is enough. Christian counseling can help people return to the will of God if they are willing to follow what I’ve just outlined. Let’s pray.

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