All counseling must be shaped by the following truths or it is not biblical.
- The gospel of Jesus Christ is the foundation of biblical change (2 Cor. 5:17; Rom. 5:1; 6:16-18; 8:13). The gospel brings spiritual new birth, and it orients, guides, empowers, and dominates all of the Christian life following regeneration (Col. 2:6).
- Change is always possible for believers in Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6; Rom. 6:17-18). No Christian is so entrenched in sin, so dominated by his past, genetics, or anything else, that he cannot be changed by the work of the Holy Spirit.
- The Word of God applied by the Spirit of God is the primary tool for change (John 17:17; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Ps. 119:1, 24, 133). Living and active, inerrant, God-revealed, Christ-commended, Spirit-empowered—when it comes to changing people, there is nothing like the Bible.
- The heart is the place where real, long-lasting change takes place (Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 10:5; Prov. 4:23; Mark 7:21-23; Matt. 12:34). The heart is where a person thinks, considers, analyzes, evaluates, feels, decides, and chooses—the mission control center of life, the real person on the inside, the inner man. Counseling is about changing a person’s heart or moment-by-moment thinking.
- God’s plan for practical daily change is: put off / be renewed / put on (Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:8-14). That plan includes the following components: put off, be renewed in your mind, put on true thoughts and righteous acts.
- Sanctification is a joint, divine-human effort (Phil. 2:12-13; 1 Cor. 15:10). While regeneration, justification, conversion, and glorification are completely the work of God, sanctification is a God-empowered joint effort. Understanding that, biblical counseling avoids the extremes of mystical passivity, on one hand, and legalistic self-reliance on the other.
- Sanctification is a corporate project, requiring church life and input from other believers (Rom. 15:14; Gal. 6:1; Eph. 4:15-16; Heb. 10:24-25; Prov. 12:15). True change does not take place in the counseling room, but in the church, as a person is actively involved in both serving and being served by the body of Christ.
[Excerpted from Chapter 1 of Counsel with Confidence, a new resource by Joel James.]