Expanded comments on biblical counseling
Counseling is “intensified, personalized discipleship in the Word of God.”
Biblical counseling reaches beyond the mere function of behavior to the worship of God. Biblical counseling, as we understand it, places a person’s spiritual condition as its first priority. We take seriously and address common struggles such as depression, anger, panic attacks and family discord, and at the same time we understand that these are fruits not roots. Their roots are deeply imbedded and entwined in our relationship with God, and they have their ultimate origin in our rebellion against Him. What are today called “mental health” issues are in reality heart/spiritual issues. To teach people to cope with their problems apart from addressing their personal relationship with God is to do them a great disservice. If they are believers, we have failed to point them to God and to help them see the glory of His power and grace in their lives. If the counselee does not have a personal relationship to God through Jesus Christ, we do not want to teach him how to live better apart from God, rather we wish to show him the cross and teach him to live to the glory of God.
For example, people who struggle with being co-dependent must not only address unhealthy relationships to people, but they must also address their relationship to God. Behavior is the servant of the wants and desires of our heart. Those who wrestle with co-dependent behaviors must address such issues as their controlling desire for acceptance by other people; otherwise they will only substitute one unhealthy behavior for another. We call this controlling desire of the heart idolatry. Idolatry occurs any time we allow ourselves to be controlled by someone or something other than God. This is why we believe counseling of any depth must address issues of worship which are issues of the heart. The ultimate question is, to whom or to what are we bowing or serving? A personal relationship with Jesus Christ is, therefore, foundational to counseling and to lasting change.
True counseling then, is that which helps a person better understand the need of the Gospel everyday. It teaches faith and repentance as a way of life, and it results in a growing enjoyment of God. It is counseling that effects the heart of man, the center of our lives, the place out of which we believe, live, respond and hope (Proverbs 4:23). True counseling strives to bring about heart change which lasts because it is grounded in a personal and on-going relationship with God.