In recent posts we have discussed the importance of engaging biblical discipleship counseling. Christian ministry does not merely stop when evangelism succeeds. We all need to be discipled. We all need biblical counseling. When we speak of "biblical discipleship counseling", recall that we refer to counsel that relies on the Word of God for all counseling and discipleship needs.
When engaging in counseling, it is not enough to merely read the Bible to the counselee. The Holy Spirit has the very important role of guiding us in the application of Scripture, both as we counsel and are being counseled. In Isaiah 61:1, Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me…” and then He began to describe how He would minister. The Holy Spirit of the Lord was with Jesus as He ministered the counsel of God.
Since we want to counsel as Christ counseled, we must ask ourselves how to follow Christ’s example and counsel as He did. To engage in counseling as Christ did, we must rely on the work of the Holy Spirit. When you engage in biblical counseling, it is not enough to just throw some Bible verses at the counselee and hope they get better. Counseling is far more than sharing a simple saying and attaching a Bible verse to it.
You may be thinking that since God counsels through His Word that you'll have all the answers to all of the questions, but consider this question. Who is behind your ability to understand Scripture? You, or the Spirit of God?
Perhaps you can check your list of references, lob applicable references at the counselee, and bop, bop, boom, it’s done! Well, there is nothing wrong with using lists of applicable Scripture references for various counseling situations. These lists can be very helpful, but you must also ask yourself who you are depending on. Who are you getting confirmation from that this particular Scripture is applicable to this person’s situation and what they need to hear? Who are you trusting to work through God’s Word and the application of it to touch that counselees life? God counsels through His Word but His counsel does not follow mere procedures and formulas. We need the Holy Spirit to guide us as we pray, search the Scriptures, and apply the wisdom that comes from it to counsel those in need.
I praise God for those in the church who are imploring and calling us to engage in both biblical counseling and deeper, more meaningful discipleship relationships. May it never be, however, that in casting aside psychologically infiltrated counseling, we pick up letter-of-the-law legalistic counseling and call it biblical. Biblical counseling is not biblical unless the Holy Spirit is involved. Let's not merely lob thoughts, ideas, chapters, and verses at people in need of counseling without exhorting them to “walk in the Spirit,” without depending on the Spirit, or without being led by the Spirit.
Jesus is our ultimate and perfect example. He said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me to proclaim good news, to set captives, and to comfort the brokenhearted.” How did Jesus do it? By the Holy Spirit. We are supposed to counsel with full reliance on the guidance and wisdom that the Holy Spirit provides.
"Those who are counseling, and even those seeking to be counseled, must be filled with the Spirit." Ephesians 5:18 commands us to “be filled with the Spirit.” Be filled! The lives of counselors must be overflowing with the present and comprehensive work of the Spirit of God. As counselors, let's take the truth of God’s Word and allow lives to be transformed. Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor. Let's follow Him and counsel by the Holy Spirit.