What is biblical counseling, exactly?

"People are born for trouble as readily as sparks fly up from a fire." Job 5:7

Most people agree with the statement above; however, because man seeks to retreat from pain and "cope" with problems, we have been driven to produce numerous ways to cope as well as create other conflicting theories from Job 5:7: 

  • Man is basically good and is able to live up to this "good" potential.
  • Man has been victimized by his conscience, leaving him insecure and in need of re-socialization.
  • Man is just a high-level animal who has been conditioned by his environment and needs to be reprogrammed 
  • Man's basic problem is lack of self esteem and an inability to give or receive love. 

Although these sometimes seem as valid alternatives and theories, there is no concrete scripture to validate any of our theories that assist us in coping with what is truly going on. Which is why, if we believe that scripture is as powerful as most of us claim it to be, we are to make every effort to immerse ourselves in the truth that scripture gives; as well as the healing that comes from overcoming, and not simply "coping."

The Word of God is clear that many people have forsaken the truth that comes from scripture and have tried to come up with their own explanation as to why people are the way they are (Jeremiah 2:13). When we read the words of Jeremiah 8:1-22 it is clear that the only solution to the problems of life is a whole-hearted return to the Lord God. There must be an all consuming passion for the Lord, and with this we are to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and strength (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).

In His Word, God has given us everything we need to live in a manner that pleases Him (II Peter 1:3-4). We must not integrate man’s theories with biblical truth in order to solve our problems and live a victorious life. As a matter of fact, Scripture promises us that when we seek to place God’s Word on a level with man’s thinking, serious consequences occur (Proverbs 1:22-32; 14:12; 30:5,6; Romans 8:6-8; I Corinthians 3:19-20).

Biblical counseling is based upon the biblical teaching that we will each give an account of ourselves to God (Romans 14:12; II Corinthians 5:10). Even though believers in Christ will not be condemned by their sins in eternity (Romans 8:1; Hebrews 9:27,28; 10:10-18) as non believers will be (Revelation 20:15), there are consequences for sins (Ezekiel 18:20; Colossians 3:25). Counselees are shown that they are responsible before God solely for their own thoughts, words, and actions, and not responsible for anyone else's. 

In learning to assume responsibility for one's own behavior, a counselee needs to understand the conflict between the flesh and his new identification in Christ Jesus (Romans 6; II Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 5:16-23). A counselee must determine to lay aside his old way of life with its lusts and deception and begin to believe and think in a way that reflects the new Christ-like nature God has given him (Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 3:5-17). A counselee must develop Godly thought patterns (II Corinthians 10:5; Philippians 4:8) if he is to have a renewed mind and be successful in living a life that corresponds to the new nature which is created by God in holiness of the truth (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:23:24).

Any changes that a counselee makes must be done in order to please God, not to gratify himself, please his parents, spouse, or anyone else (II Corinthians 5:9,15; Colossians 1:10; I Thessalonians 2:4,6). This requires a commitment to obey God's word and not to depend on or be ruled by feelings, regardless of how strong or persuasive they may be (II Corinthians 5:14-15; Galatians 5:16-17). When there are strong feelings which are upsetting to him, he must go back to his basic belief system to see what is wrong in the belief that led to the upset emotions or thoughts, which lead to the problem.