The ability to change – biblical counseling #4

I have already spoken in my earlier posts about the vital need for us to recognise that Christian’s should expect to be able to change. Some types of counselling seems to focus on trying to find explanations for why we are the way we are. This is only ever useful if it is the first step to enabling us to change.

The bible is full of commands that we are expected to fullfill. It is no use us simply saying ‘but I cant do that’. God never commands us to do that which is impossible. Whilst we will have a lifetime’s struggle, we should expect it to be an ever more victorious one (even if there are setbacks along the way)

It is my belief that one of the areas we should focus on most as christians is our thought life. It is vital to distinguish between thoughts and feelings here. People often say something like “I feel inadequate” or “I feel inferior”. This is wrong of course as these are not emotions but cognitions. We must learn to question our thoughts and the rational basis for them. Ironically of course sometimes these are accurate assesmments- you feel like a failure because you ARE one! It is no use pretending you are not- but fortunately you are not the only failure- we all are!

God is in the business of changing failures into successes. One of the ways that needs to happen is in our thought life. Also, we sometimes need to just start behaving in the ways we would if the problem was solved. So, if struggling to forgive a close family member, taking a step to bless them by buying a small present might be hard to do, and we might be feeling like a hypocrite as we do it, but the act of doing the right thing will begin to change our thoughts and feelings.

As Jay Adams puts it (Christian Counsellors manual, p 118) one of the devils most cunning tricks is to pursuade men that “they cannot do what God requres because they do not feel like doing it. or that they must do what they feel like doing and cannot help themselves”

We live in an age that fosters our desires and turns them into “felt needs” and then proceeds to try and sell the satisfaction of those needs to us. The gospel teaches us to die to our desires and live for others.

Perhaps the best example of this is the biblical command to love one another– or particulalry ones wife. The biblical response to someone saying they have fallen out of love with their spouse is to teach them how to act in such a way as to rekindle that love.

Our counselling should focus on our responsiblity to make wise choices and act in according to Gods ways. A detailed self-examination for hidden sin, followed by confession and repentance goes a long way to solving many problems. Repentance and change are the hallmarks of the maturing Christian.

God really has given us what we need for this process to occurr.

2 Peter 1:3-4 (NIV) His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

Recommended reading

If this post has interested you, why not by some books by Jay Adams from the USA or UK

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