Biblical Counseling: Helping People Live According to Scripture

Some time back I was in a counseling relationship with a young couple experiencing extreme marital difficulties. They told me the story of how they came to know each other and how they pursued marriage, but all the days of their marriage had been filled with strife and contention and a total lack of peace. They professed to be believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. They professed to believe in the Word that He has given us. But as they told me their story, there was an obvious disobedience to a command that is clearly given in Scripture. There was a sin they had allowed into their lives that is specifically forbidden in a particular passage of Scripture. I asked the young woman about this, and I will never forget her response as long as I live. She said to me, “Oh yes, I know about that Scripture. But me and the Lord have come to an understanding about that.”

Now as horrifying as this may be to you and to me, that someone who professes a faith in the Lord Jesus Christ could so blatantly disobey one of His commands, are not many of us doing the exact same thing just in a more subtle fashion? We talk about sacrifice, yet we don’t. We speak of unconditional love, yet we demand so much. We talk of forgiveness, yet we bear roots of bitterness that are deeply entrenched in our hearts.

Do we really believe in and live according to the Scriptures that we profess to be inspired by God himself? I must confess today that the Spirit of God has convicted my own heart relative to my lack of forgiveness, my lack of love, and the roots of bitterness that dwell deep within me and keep me from being all that God has called me to be. May God have mercy on me, and all of us.

Day by day people walk in and out of my office door bringing sorrows, anxieties, and stories filled with despair. Many profess faith in the Lord Jesus and knowledge of His Word but seek answers that are inconsistent with His teachings. They seem to seek comfort at the expense of obedience. So, what is the practical function of the Word of God in our lives?

The basic presupposition of biblical counseling is that there is an infinite and personal God who has revealed himself propositionally in the written Word, the Bible, and personally in the living Word, Jesus Christ. Both the written Word and the living Word testify that the most basic problem of every human being is his separation from God. This separation is made necessary by the fact that He is holy and we are not. People may solve their personal problems temporarily and partially by approximating biblical principles, but they can never experience an absolutely fulfilling life here or eternally without reconciliation to God through Jesus Christ.

The Scriptures speak to this:

But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. 2 Peter 1:20 – 21.

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 2 Peter 1:2-3.

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both the joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12.

And for this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received from us the word of God’s message, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe. 1 Thessalonians 2:13.

For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God. For ‘all flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls off, but the word of the Lord abides forever.’ And this is the word which was preached to you. 1 Peter 1:23-25 (Quoting Isaiah 40:6-8).

These passages give testimony to the origin, content, sufficiency, applicability and eternality of the Scriptures themselves. Scripture itself clams to be a sufficient resource for meeting spiritual and emotional needs. In light of this, modern psychology offers no spiritual benefit that the Church lacks. Second Corinthians 3:5 sums up the matter of spiritual sufficiency for us: “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God.” The King James Version states, “Our sufficiency is of God.”

Scripture warns us not to look beyond the resources God has abundantly provided. Paul warned the Colossians not to be taken captive through philosophy and deception according to the tradition of men. He contrasted that teaching with the deity of Christ and all that comes from Him. Thus, in the Church our counsel must be based on the Bible and rely on its sufficiency.

Learn more about Southwestern’s certification in biblical counseling at swbts.edu/bccertification and the Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling at swbts.edu/counseling.