It is true in general, that there can be little true progress in putting away sin without sound doctrine. So it is also true that we can never substitute the finding out of sound doctrine for the putting away of sin. And thirdly, the true putting away of sin is never located merely in the amendment of actions – but must be accompanied with a true change of the heart.
All of this is essential in our counseling. And it applies as much to the counselor, as to the counselee.
Because we know counseling answers and techniques, this is not a substitute for our own hearts and minds being conformed to Christ’s character.
Because one knows the truth does not necessarily mean they are living the truth out or living in the power of it. Brilliant theologians with rancid personalities are a blatant contradiction. Giftedness and knowledge cannot be received and lauded at the expense of character sins which lie on the surface and lurk beneath.
Do not vainly learn it all, and then perish for never having acted upon it in faith. As one can know the Gospel and even assent to its truth, and still not personally trust Christ as their sin-bearer – so we can learn and believe the sweetest and purest doctrinal systems, and still be bound in sin and perishing. Salvation is the process (when considered in its entire scope, not merely as justification) of being conformed to Christ’s holy character, not merely imitating His actions.
Christian counselors who do not understand that counseling must be the application of wisdom bearing our texts characteristics vainly imagine themselves to be about God’s work – when they are often in fact doing nothing more than modifying human behavior with religious trappings and Scriptural language.
God’s wisdom – His APPLIED knowledge in our lives must carry all of these facets to be truly His:
a. It must traffic in the pure truth of God’s Word.
b. It must be peaceably approached, with the aim at seeking peace with God and others.
c. It must be gentle. Harsh, critical, brusque, gruff and grouchy counsel is not God’s wisdom.
d. It must have a listening ear and be open to reason and not so locked in its own opinions and systems that it cannot learn or adapt appropriately.
e. It must not only have mercy – but must be full of it. Having a truly all encompassing compassion for those it seeks to help.
f. It must have it own GOOD FRUITS. Cold and harsh Scriptural-Clinicalism is a sin against those we seek to counsel. Those who would counsel others Scripturally who themselves are devoid of the sweet fruit of the Spirit of God are imposters.
g. It must be impartial – neither soft-soaping sin as something else, nor over-burdening the conscience. It must not fail to deal in the above ways with either friends or foes.
h. It must be aiming not at one’s own agenda – but God’s. The goal is ever and only one: Christ-likeness.
To fail in these is (as the 15th verse declares) to give earthly, unspiritual and demonic wisdom.
These things are true with Pastors and Counselors dealing with Congregants, Husbands with Wives, Parents with Children, Siblings with One Another, and Friend with Friend.
It is not loving to merely do what is right, nor to help others do so. In God’s universe, we must also do that work lovingly.
The truth MUST be spoken, but it must also be spoken “in love.” (Eph. 4:15) – It is not loving “simply” to speak the truth.