And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 19, Number
In this issue:
Someone said, “Christian Counselors need to be careful lest they make themselves a fourth member of the Trinity.” I dare say that is a warning to be heeded by all who are in positions to instruct, advise and exhort others concerning spiritual matters (whether elders, preachers, teachers, parents, etc., Jas. 3:1). The emphasis of our counsel must always be “the testimony of God,” and not ourselves (1 Cor. 2:1-5). The supreme authority and final word for wise counsel is and always will be Christ Jesus in His word, not the universities of learning and boards of certification that attest a person to be qualified to counsel another human being. We well remember the apostles of Christ were observably “uneducated and untrained men,” yet they spoke truth with the authority of heaven (Acts 4:12-13). Their teaching frees souls from sin, unshackles hearts from the pain of guilt and regret, and reshapes hopes and aspirations from the depths of despair to the heights of glory. Truly, in Christ “all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).
We do not mean to disparage higher education, nor the training needed to diagnosis and treat a myriad of mental and emotional disorders by trained physicians and therapists. Our intention is to remember the keep in perspective who is giving counsel, why are they giving it, and what God’s word says concerning any and every part of that counsel.
Neither do we intend to disparage faithful Christians who devote their lives to the work of giving therapeutic counsel and guidance to the mentally ill and the emotionally distraught. They do good work, and we are thankful for their work, and for them. The human mind is the most complicated part of who we are, with complicated sets of actions, reactions and interactions of chemicals, emotions, thoughts, memories, motives, and goals, etc. Attempting to untangle all of these interrelated thoughts and forces so that they work in tandem to achieve positive goals, instead of misfiring, can be a gargantuan task. To do so demands education, training and skill.
We intend to offer gentle and Scriptural exhortation, both to those who give spiritual counsel, and to those who seek it. You see, so much of the counsel that people seek and are given, ultimately has a spiritual component. We cannot separate our minds and our actions from our accountability and responsibility to the Lord (Rom. 14:12; Gal. 6:5).
At the same time, moral competency is not inherently surrendered when someone needs and seeks therapeutic help with mental and emotional trouble. The human mind is the very heart with which we are to “trust in the Lord,” and lean not on our own understanding. “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Prov. 3:5-6). We cannot separate counsel for our lives from the wise counsel given by the One who made the human mind.
We need wise counselors. “For by wise counsel you will wage your own war, and in a multitude of counselors there is safety” (Prov. 24:6). And, wisdom begins with a fear of the Lord (Prov. 9:10).Right now, you may be waging a war with your emotions, your impulses, your drives. If so, knowing godly counsel is available is important. The best counselor of all is the Lord: “Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, or as His counselor has taught Him?” (Isa. 40:13). When you seek counsel, be sure you search for counsel that comes from the wisdom of God’s word, not merely the wisdom of man. In this world, it is a given that most counselors and therapists are not concerned with giving godly guidance based upon the word of God. Sweet water does not come from a bitter spring (Jas. 3:11). Worst still, are the counselors who profess faith in Christ, but then demand their human-sourced counsel be followed instead of God’s word (because it is what the “experts” say – and they are the experts!). Testing all things includes testing the counsel given by those whom the world deems to be experts in the field of counseling (1 Thess. 5:21-22). This is not an attempt to prevent folks from using counselors and therapists. Instead, it is an encouragement to those who do need to seek out counselors, to seek those who are guided by respect for God and His truth. Find counselors who respect God and His word, so that their counsel is more likely to conform to godliness.
Who is counseling the counselors? That is a valid question. Letters after one’s name do not qualify one to give God’s counsel to the lost and to those who are struggling against sin. Sin is the culprit of pain and sorrow, after all. Sin is disruptive. Sometimes, the sins of others disrupt our own lives with doubts, fears, anxieties, and even more serious mental and emotional troubles (Psa. 37:7-8). Sometimes, our own sin disrupts peace in our lives and the lives of others (Psa. 32:3-5). In either case, God’s word gives us guidance to address and overcome the emotional upheaval brought on by sin (Matt. 11:28-30; Phil. 4:4-9; 2 Tim. 3:16-17).
If you are a counselor, whose instructs you? Whose remedies and recommendations do you give preference and precedence as you guide someone through their emotional and spiritual challenges? Does faith in the word of God counsel you as you counsel others? Do you trust the guidance of God’s word to inform your training and counseling of others? When the counsel of God and men contradict, which one do you advise?
If you believe you need counsel, you may need someone with special training. But, do not forget the most important, most reliable source of all – God. “Your testimonies also are my delight and my counselors” (Psa. 119:24).
The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eats little or much; But the abundance of the rich will not permit him to sleep. (Ecclesiastes 5:12, NKJV)
There is nothing better than a good night's sleep after a long day of hard work. Rest for the weary that refreshes the body and the mind, is among the blessings gained through labor. God has ordained labor to be a blessing, and we ought to be thankful that we can work with our hands. Work that is well done gives you a sense of accomplishment in providing for yourself and your family (1 Tim. 5:8). Additionally, working keeps your mind and body occupied with honorable things. Idleness easily leads to temptation and sin (2 Thess. 3:10-11). Work also helps us keep life in perspective. We work to provide for ourselves and our families, and also to help others who are in need (1 Thess. 4:11-12). Work becomes a taskmaster when we make increasing material wealth the reason for our labor. One day we will die, and the work of our hands will be left to another (Eccl. 2:17-23). So, we must keep life in perspective as we labor day by day. Enjoy good from your labor. Be thankful you can work, but do not be enslaved by it. Enjoy the blessings of labor; they are from the hand of God (Eccl. 2:24).
-Sword Tips #1085 (May 25, 2017)
You can find the complete outline of this sermon
plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 61:1-3
1. Good news refreshes, invigorates, and is welcomed, Prov. 25:25 (15:30).
I. THE GOSPEL IS GOOD NEWS OF SALVATION, Eph. 1:13.
Salvation from Sin in Jesus Christ, Acts 4:12; Rom. 1:16; 1 Thess. 2:13
(Rom. 3:23; 6:23).
II. THE GOSPEL IS GOOD NEWS OF GOD’S GRACE, Titus 2:11.
News of God’s Grace, Col. 1:6 (Acts 20:24, 32). Isa. 61:2; 49:8; 2 Cor.
6:1-2; Eph. 2:4-9.
III. THE GOSPEL IS GOOD NEWS OF GOD’S TRUTH, Col. 1:5, 6.
A. Truth has Power to Free Us from the Darkness of Ignorance, Jno. 8:31-32; Eph. 4:17-21; Psa. 43:3; 40:11-12; 1 Pet. 1:22-25.
IV. THE GOSPEL IS GOOD NEWS OF HOPE LAID UP IN HEAVEN, Col. 1:5.
A. Our Hope Reaches into the Very Presence of God, Heb. 6:18-20; 1 Cor. 15:19; Rom. 8:24-25; 1 Pet. 1:3-5; Heb. 3:6.
Learning the Consequences of Sin
We have all sinned, and most of us have faced some consequences from our sins (Rom. 3:23; 6:21). It is a hard, yet necessary lesson, to accept the consequences of our sins. Such is the case of a high school senior in a small, faith-based private school in Maryland. The 4.0 graduating senior is pregnant, and will not be allowed to “walk” at graduation “because she was immoral.”
The administrator for Heritage Academy noted that “all students sign a pledge based on Philippians 4:8 (including language about ‘whatever is pure’) that ‘extends to my actions, such as protecting my body by abstaining from sexual immorality and from the use of alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs.’” “’Heritage is also pleased that she has chosen to not abort her son,’ he wrote. ‘However, her immorality is the original choice she made that began this situation. Secondly, she will receive her diploma that she has earned.” (‘Because she was immoral’: Christian school defends decision to deny pregnant teen graduation ‘walk’, Adelle M. Banks, Religious News Service). (Transcript of the administrator’s statement is online at http://www.heritage-academy.net.)
Sin is a choice. Its consequences remain, even when it is forgiven by God and men. For example, the Christians Saul consented to be killed remained dead after he was forgiven (Acts 26:10; 1 Tim. 1:12-13). The person who ends a marriage (that God has joined together) for a cause other than fornication, cannot remarry without committing the additional sin of adultery (Matt. 19:6, 9; 1 Cor. 7:10-11). Yes, sin can be forgiven, but its consequences remain. Let us learn this lesson about sin, and allow it to warn us and deter us from thinking we can sin and be exempt from its consequences and its punishment (Rom. 2:1-2).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 05/28/2017
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