Chapter 4. Orientation To Biblical Counseling Mini Series

 

4.1. God’s Way vs Man’s Way

Dynamics of Problem Solving

( Heb. 3:13 ) Being ignorant of sin desensitizes and causes hardening.

( Rom. 1:20-32 ) After awhile you become your own god by establishing standards to justify self-centered pursuits. People perish because of ignorance; therefore, it is a question of becoming knowledgeable, of becoming sensitive, of recognizing that living in this world cannot be taken for granted ( Hosea 4:6 ).

The Ways of Man and the Ways of God

Approximately 230 psychological schools of thought are practiced in the world dealing with the study of man’s behavior, and the varied methods and means required for man to solve personal problems. These schools are reduced to five common characteristics.

1.         Man is good : Humanism – independence from God – New Age: Man has everything necessary within to solve own problems – mind merely blocked by negative thinking or influences – develop positive thinking and draw from one’s own resources – see self as worthwhile and esteemed. What does God say? Ps. 62:9 ; Rom. 3:10-18,23 ; Rom. 7:18 .

2.         Man is a superior animal : Basic view of man is that his behavior is wrongly conditioned or programmed by environment and circumstances. He needs to be reconditioned or reprogrammed by manipulation of behavior through use of positive and negative stimuli… He is artificially maneuvered to respond to reward and punishment in order to improve self. What does God say? John 15:4-5 ; Rom. 1:18-32 ; James 4:10 .

3.         Man can change himself : Although being wounded by circumstances of life, man can change bad behavior. This is a combination of the above positions: that through education, logic and reason, man can overcome self. What does God say? Jer. 13:23 ; Ezek. 18:20 ; Ezek. 36:26-27 .

4.         Man, a victim of conscience : Man driven by instincts, thwarted by family, by society, by upbringing, and by others, who are responsible for his problems. Deep analysis necessary, along with hypnosis, resocialization, catharsis, self-actualization, free association, etc. What does God say? Ezek. 18:20 ; Phil. 2:3-4 ; 1 Tim. 4:1-2 .

5.         Man, a bargainer : When the above doesn’t work, the world uses – trade-offs. You do this, and I will do this, a 50/50 arrangement. Imbalances are inevitable, the self nature always wants more than its share. What does God say? God commands us to love without expectation of return, to return good for evil. Rom. 12:21 ; Phil. 2:3-4 .

Man’s way is always self-oriented, he is his own god, as evidenced by :

1.         no biblical confrontation,

2.         no conversion experience expected or even considered,

3.         no repentance,

4.         no work of the Holy Spirit,

5.         and no sanctification process in bearing the image of God.

Given impetus in modern times from the so-called Enlightenment and the Renaissance periods, this typifies and represents man’s attempt to save himself without God. Such concepts have culminated today in a society whose sinking foundations are being built on preferences (feelings) rather than principles (absolutes). Twisted human reason and logic replaces the Ten Commandments.

God’s Way of Handling Problems

( Phil. 3:13 ) God is the God of the ‘I AM’, He is not in the past, nor in the future, He is always in the present. We start from the present and each day thereafter – one day at a time.

•           ( Luke 9:62 ) Looking back into the past will make you unfit for the present.

•           ( Heb. 11:15 ) Thinking of the past makes one vulnerable, and weak.

•           ( Rom. 8:28 ) Past events in our lives are irreversible. Why waste time and effort there.

Our reactions to those events can be changed as we allow God to intervene in the present, to reach into our experiences, to redeem us, to free us to love and worship God. Eventually we become lovers of God in our spirits instead of lovers of self by dwelling on the past.

( 1 Tim. 4:7 ; Eph. 4:22-24 ) Thus, it is through discipline we become godly: by commitment to live God’s way in the present through the simple process of putting-off and putting-on – by the authority of God’s word and by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Accordingly, we change our coping mechanisms from reacting to life to responding to life on the basis of God’s word.

God’s Resources

•           Holy Spirit – John 16:7-8,13 ; 1 Cor. 2:11-15 .

•           Bible – 2 Tim. 3:16-17 ; Heb. 4:12 .

•           Counselors – Gal. 6:1-2 ; Rom. 15:14 ; Prov. 15:22 .

•           Start up the spiral by tackling the immediate problem first ( James 1:2 ). Act on known solutions, postpone acting when solutions are unknown ( James 1:5-8 ; John 7:17 ; Rom. 14:23 ). Continue up the spiral ( Heb. 5:14 ).

Work Out Your Salvation (Phil. 2:12-13)

Memory Verse(s):

2 Tim. 3:16,17

Devotion:

BSAF on John 16:7,8,13 ; Heb. 4:12 ; Gal. 6:1 . Do one a day.

Put-Off/Put-On:

Study Eph. 4:22-32 and make a list of your failures to respond biblically.

Reference: Five Week Bible Study, 1980, Bob Schneider and John Broger, BCF.

 

4.2. Prerequisites to Biblical Change

Four Stages of Spiritual Development

1.         Born-again stage is the new birth, new life – eternal life from above.

•           ( John 1:12 ) Child of God, God is now the Father of our spirits.

•           ( Phil. 2:12-13 ) Salvation is not just a destination change. It is the beginning stage of the development of a new life. We were the slaves of Satan, but now we are children of God, joint-heirs with Jesus. Accordingly, we are to resist the residual evil tendencies of the old life by submitting the natural life to the spiritual life on a continuous basis until we “become like little children” ( Matt. 18:3 ). Takes a moment to be born-again from above, but a lifetime to work out being conformed to the image of Our Lord.

•           ( 1 John 2:3-6 ; John 14:21 ) To obey is to really hear, to really listen, to see, and to understand what I listened to, and to act upon what I heard. If we are obeying, we will walk as Jesus walked.

•           ( 1 Cor. 3:16 ) Obedience builds the temple. Doing the word are the bricks of the temple making it suitable for God to dwell in it.

2.         Spiritual stage is knowing the fullness of the Holy Spirit, being fully empowered to live the Christian life.

•           ( Luke 11:13 ) Simply ask and receive.

•           ( Luke 24:48-49 ) Receive power from on high.

•           ( Acts 1:8 ) When the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will receive power to be His witnesses.

•           ( 1 Cor. 6:17 ) One spirit with Him. You are a co-worker.

•           ( Rom. 5:5 ) Love is poured out into our hearts, act by faith upon this truth. Love is ready to flow out as a river of living waters. Faith, hope and love flows from obedience.

3.         Pathway of the cross stage is a daily exercise of getting down into the death of Christ, to allow Christ to live out His life through us.

•           ( Rom. 6:3-6 ) Old nature buried, no longer slaves of sin. As we put-off daily sins, we arise immediately in the newness of life in Christ and able to respond biblically to all of life’s encounters.

•           ( Eph. 4:22-24 ) We must do the doing: putting-off corruptions – renewing ourselves in the spirit of our minds – and putting-on truth in all areas of living. Daily, we have our calvary, our resurrection, and our ascension.

•           ( Luke 9:23-24 ) No longer defend or protect self, but practice death to private aims, selfish passions and prejudices, to worldly reputation and honor.

•           ( Phil. 2:3-5 ) As with Jesus, now I am to seek the interests and betterment of others. I am no longer central but to use self to be a blessing to others.

4.         Ascension/overcomer/spiritual warfare stage is where the believer realizes and knows he is in union with Christ.

•           ( Eph. 1:17-23 ) We are seated with Him, “Far above all authority…”

•           ( Luke 10:19 ) Given all authority over the power of the enemy.

•           ( Rom. 8:29 ; 1 John 3:8 ) God created us to be conformed to the image of His Son, and as such, to do as He did: to destroy the works of the devil.

•           ( Col. 2:13-15 ) Our problem is not with Satan, he has been defeated. The issue is our relationship with God, knowing who and what we are in Christ Jesus. Therefore, we are to keep the enemy from having any footholds in our lives by being free in the following areas: ( James 4:6-8 )

•           Genealogy : ( Gal. 3:13-14 ) Realize and know that the Blood of Jesus has freed me from all generation curses ( Exodus 18:20 ).

•           Circumstances of life : ( Matt. 16:24-25 ; Col. 1:10-11 ) No longer react to or controlled by the externals of life, by personal attacks, by pressures of the world, by trials and tribulations, but respond by and according to the promptings and power of the Holy Spirit ( James 1:2-4 ).

•           Environment : ( 1 John 2:15 ; 2 Pet. 1:4 ) Partaker of the divine life and nature, and have escaped from the world’s system of lusts. The devil has nothing on me. I am now in the position to overcome him in all areas of life in the name of Jesus Christ. To the extent I grow in virtues, to that extent Christ inhabits my life.

The Characteristics of an Overcomer

•           ( Eph. 3:9-10 ) Proclaims God’s wisdom to the enemy: for this is a battle of wisdom.

•           ( Phil. 1:11 ) Do all to the honor and praise of God that His glory may be both manifested and recognized.

•           ( Prov. 24:10 ) Nothing can ever limit or defeat us in Christ. We proceed until victory prevails.

•           ( Prov. 21:22 ) No compromises: we ascend, we assault, and cast down all opposition.

•           ( Luke 11:20-23 ; 1 John 4:4 ; Isa. 9:6 ) We move from strength to strength for there is no end to God’s kingdom. We are commissioned to establish His Kingdom of peace and joy on earth.

Being an overcomer we accomplish God’s purposes for our lives by being conformed to the image of His Son. We do as He did, walk as He did: do all to destroy the works of the devil in ourselves and in others.

Work Out Your Salvation (Phil. 2:12-13)

Memory Verse(s):

1 Cor. 10:13

Devotion:

BSAF on Rom. 12:1-2 ; Gal. 5:16-17 .

Put-Off/Put-On:

Review sample list (below) and Eph. 4:22-32 , note problems you are experiencing that God wants you to work on during this course. Work out one problem at a time by using Section A.4, “Victory Over Sin Worksheet” .

Sample list of problems to help you decide problem areas: adultery, anger, anorexia, bulimia, evil talk, depression, lack of discipline, fear, fornication, greed, guilt, homosexuality, impatience, laziness, gluttony, loneliness, lust, lying, marriage problems, pride, procrastination, rebellion, self-pity, substance abuse, worry, bitterness, frustration, stealing, child discipline problems, jealousy, envy, frustration, stealing, interpersonal conflicts and disputes.

4.3. Why There is Hope

Your Hope in the Midst of Trials

1.         Those in Christ are freed from the power and penalty of sin ( Rom. 6:3-7,14,18,23 ). The past is dealt with once and forever. To listen to the past is to listen to demons, and to dishonor the Blood of Christ ( Heb.l0:10,14-22 ). We are to give our time and effort to the present.

2.         God will not allow believers to be tested or tempted beyond what they can bear. He gives His grace and strength to endure every test and resist every temptation so that you never have to sin ( Rom. 8:35-39 ; 1 Cor. 10:13 ; 2 Cor. 4:7-10 ; 2 Cor. 12:9-10 ; Phil. 4:13 ; Heb. 4:15-16 ; 2 Pet. 2:4-9 ).

3.         Our Lord Jesus Christ will grant mercy and provide grace to help in every need . He constantly intercedes as an advocate for you to God the Father and fully understands your weaknesses ( Heb. 2:18 ; Heb. 4:15-16 ; Heb. 7:25 ; Rom. 5:10 ; John 20:23 ). Don’t defend self when treated unfairly, or suffering injustices. As your advocate, let Jesus handle evil done to you on earth. Our job is to love our enemies, do good to those who persecute you, to express goodwill to them: put them in the hands of God; pray that they may receive spiritual blessings in Christ ( Rom. 12:19 ).

4.         Trials and testings will develop and mature you in Christ if you respond to them in God’s way ( Rom. 5:3-5 ; James 1:2-4 ). He never devises evil or harm for you, rather His plans for you are for good ( Gen. 50:20 ; Deut. 8:2,5,16 ; Ps. 145:17 ; Jer. 29:ll-13 ; Rom. 8:28-29 ; Prov. 24:10 ; Prov. 21:22 ).

5.         God’s peace and joy are available to believers regardless of others, possessions or circumstances ( Luke 6:35-38 ; Matt. 6:33 ; Rom. 5:3-12 ; John 14:27 ; John 15:11 ; John 17:13 ; Rom. 14:17 ; Phil. 4:4-7 ; 1 Pet. 1:6-9 ). Follow God’s will, His word which is His righteousness and the Kingdom of God is yours to proclaim. We reign in life through righteousness.

6.         Only God can change people ( Ezek. 36:26-27 ; Phil. 1:6 ; Phil. 2:13 ). You cannot and are not responsible for changing others. You are accountable to God solely for your own deeds ( Jer. 17:10 ; Ezek. 18:1-20 ; especially verse 20; Matt. 16:27 ; Rom. 2:5-10 ; Col. 3:23-25 ; 1 Pet. 1:17 ), and are to do your part in living at peace with others ( Matt. 5:23-24 ; Mark 11:25 ; Rom. 12:9-21 ; Rom. 14:19 ; 1 Pet. 3:8-9 ; 1 Pet. 4:8 ).

7.         When you confess your sins, God forgives and cleanses you ( 1 John 1:7-9 ; Rom. 5:10 ; Heb. 7:22-25 ; Heb. 10:22-23 ). Our job is to honor the Blood of Jesus by acting and proclaiming ourselves forgiven by His great sacrifice for us. To act guilty, condemned or self-pitying is to make the cross ineffective. Self-pity is negative pride, worshiping the devil.

As we follow God’s way, walking in His word, living by His truths as so stated, we enter into His promises of an abundant life now, here on earth, as well as in eternity ( 1 Cor. 6:17 ; John 5:24 ; John 4:24 ; John 10:10 ).

Work Out Your Salvation (Phil. 2:12-13)

Memory Verse(s):

John l6:33 : Meditate on this verse, read and listen to it carefully, mull it over until you really understand. We are ‘overcomers’ in Christ. It is about time, we begin to replace evil with righteousness.

Note : During the meditating process, seek others interpretation of the verse, ask Holy Spirit to reveal deeper meaning, etc. For example, on the memory verse, Jesus on the Cross exclaimed: “It is Finished!” To me this verse means that Satan is defeated, I am no longer in union with Satan, my sins are forgiven, I am set free from the world, the flesh and the devil, I am complete in Christ, I am an overcomer in Christ, now in Christ I can work through all the trials , tests and temptations of life and overcome them because Jesus overcame the world so can I in Him. When I do sin, I confess and I am immediately cleansed and I begin to praise Him for His great sacrifice. ( 1 John 1:9 )

Devotion:

BSAF on Heb. 6:19-20 .

Put-Off/Put-On:

Continue working on ‘problem areas’ via Section A.4, “Victory Over Sin Worksheet” .

Reference: See page 99, [5][BCF1] for further reading.

 

 

 

4.4. Effecting Biblical Change

Approach to Problems

Feelings

( Matt. 12:33-37 ) We are the sum of what we encountered in life and our reactions to these events. Being conditioned by life’s experiences, we are prone to react to life impulsively and instinctively rather than to respond on the basis of considered judgment. Man’s words and manner of speech reveal his inner life, his focus, and who and what determines his peace and joy ( 1 John 2:3-6 ; Matt. 5:44 ; Gal. 5:19-21 ; Col. 3:5-9 ).

“Separated from God, fallen man became a flesh person, living from the created flesh as the source and center of life. In the realm of creature flesh, man searched for the meaning of life within his brains, intellects, memories, emotions, feelings and passions, which all exists in the organs of his body.” He looked to himself for the means to survive which became the meaning and purpose of his life – self-interest, self-protection, self defensiveness: traits that characterizes fallen man.

Man thus becomes vulnerable to what others have done or failed to do to make him secure – it is the fault of others. This state of apprehension opens the door to self-pity, fear, worry, anger, bitterness, jealousy, despair, depression and the like… All these reactions are ‘feelings’, and ‘feelings’ are fertile areas in which Satan operates and upon which he feeds ( Gen. 4:7 ).

Doing

( John 14:21 ; James 1:22-25 ) Residuals of the fallen life exist in our members: the self-defensive, self-interest, self-protective life mechanisms. We are responsible to deal with these areas in which feelings initiate reactions rather than being prompted by the word of God. Regardless of feelings, we are to do what God’s word says to do: practicing loving our enemies, being kind to those who hate you, blessing those who curse you, and praying for those who insult you. By God’s grace, you will eventually change maliciousness and retaliation to compassion and benevolence. Anything done without faith, without reference to God’s word is sin ( James 4:17 ; Eph. 4:29 ; Rom. 2:6-9 ; John 3:21 ; 1 John 2:3-6 ; Prov. 1:22-31 ; Rom. 8:13 ; Luke 6:27-31 ).

Root

( 2 Cor. 5:17 ) Our responses or reactions to life reflect our true roots: the source of our being. The essence or substance of a man are his thoughts, his speech and his actions. Here we can identify the sin patterns and strongholds developed over the years that characterize the lifestyle and personality of the individual. Be aware of the ‘body’. It is not an entity unto itself, but the body is God’s vehicle to establish His Kingdom on earth. Accordingly, through our body, our thoughts, our speech, our actions are to reflect the taproot- the character of Christ Himself.

Category of root problems are many: hypocrisy, manipulation, lying, cheating, stealing, boasting, blame shifting, self-centeredness, self-protection, self-interest, anger, impatience, self-pity, lust, immorality, greed, malice, deceit, and the like – a life characterized by self being on the throne of life.

•           Key: We establish godly roots by changing ‘I’ to ‘We’, you in union with Christ. This begins with the new birth, followed by daily renewal of the mind as we begin to confront life on the basis of God’s word ( 2 Cor. 10:3-5 ; Gal. 5:22-23 ; 2 Pet. 1:3-8 ; Eph. 4:22-24 ; Col. 3:10 ).

Approach to Solutions

Perspective

( Isa. 55:8-9 ; Prov. 14:12 ) We are to look at life from God’s perspective, His view, not from our way, experiences, ideas, opinions, what others say, the world’s philosophy or its psychology. The basic problem and the supreme challenge you will face in making Christ-honoring changes is dying to self. The biblical perspective concerning ‘self’ is exactly opposite to what the wisdom of this world proclaims ( Luke 9:23-24 ). Accordingly, to live biblically is to respond to life’s challenges in a manner that pleases and honors God – no longer pleasing and gratifying self ( 1 Cor. 3:19-20 ; 1 John 2:15-17 ; 1 Cor. 2:12-13 ; 1 John 2:20,27 ).

Hope

( Heb. 6:18-20 ) Hope is an anchor of the soul because it affects our mind and emotions. Christ within me, the Anointed One, breaks the yoke of life’s pressures on me. My job is to develop this inner image of Christ within me, that in Him, I am more than a conqueror, never under but always over circumstances, no matter what I face in life. To really believe this in the inner core of my being that all God’s promises are mine depends upon my living in and by the living word of God ( John 16:33 ; James 1:2-4 ).

( Ezek. 36:26-27 ) God gave me a heart of flesh, put His Spirit within me. He gives me power to carry out His commands.

( 1 Cor. 2:12-13 ) Being a child of God, I receive revelation knowledge by the word of God in and through my human spirit.

( Rom. 8:28-29 ) No matter what happens to me in life when I call upon God He will intervene in my life. He will reach into my experiences, redeem my past, and cause things to work out for my benefit.

( 1 Cor. 10:13 ) God is the One who is faithful. As I put my faith in Him, He will bring me out successfully.

( Heb. 4:15-16 ; Heb. 7:25 ) All I have to do is ask boldly, and God’s Grace is available to me. The blood of Jesus Christ intercedes always, washing and cleansing from all sense of guilt and shame whether real or imaginary.

( Rom. 6:3-6 ) My old human nature and all my past has been buried with Christ when I was baptized into His death. At the burial I was also raised with Him into the newness of life, freed from the power of sin, and free now to do acts of righteousness.

Change

( Gen. 4:7 ; Eph. 5:14-16 ) We must choose to change. We cannot take living for granted, being careless or casual about our thinking, speaking and acting. God put us on this earth to actively replace evil with righteousness.

( Matt. 7:1-5 ; 1 Cor. 11:28-31 ) Critical that I judge myself daily, that I am walking in the Spirit, responding to life God’s way. Then I will be in the position to help restore others.

( Rom. 12:1-2 ) My total being belongs to the Lord for His use. This requires a total overhaul of my person, separating myself from my past, the world’s system and influences in order to be conformed to the ways of the Lord.

( Eph. 4:25-32 ; Col. 3:5-17 ; Rom. 12:9-21 ; 1 Pet. 2 ; 1 Pet. 3 ) Listed in these references are the basic put-offs and put-ons to guide and lead one to live a biblical lifestyle.

( Rom. 8:29 ; 1 John 3:8 ) Examine self daily to see if I am living by God’s standards for that day, being a blessing and destroying the works of the devil.

Working Out Your Salvation

( Ps. 1:1 ; John 15:5 ) The enemy never stops working which compels us to be completely dependent upon the Lord 24 hours a day. We are to be always conscious of His Presence – to be actively involved in the pursuit of establishing His righteousness in all of life’s endeavors.

( James 1:21-25 ) Through the meditation process, we change our inner man, the root. From the godly root, God prompts our thoughts, our speech, and our actions. This continues until we experience the fullness of God and express His Presence wherever we go.

( Eph. 4:22-24 ; 1 John 2:3-5 ) We are to identify areas that need changing, being specific to identify put-offs and appropriate put-ons.

Work Out Your Salvation (Phil. 2:12-13)

Memory Verse(s):

Josh. 1:8

Devotion:

BSAF on Eph. 4:25-32 .

Put-Off/Put-On:

Continue working on failures and complete columns 1 through 4 on Section A.4, “Victory Over Sin Worksheet” . Review the change verses above especially Eph. 4:25-32 ; Rom. 12:9-21 ; 1 Pet. 2 and 1 Pet. 3 . Preview Section A.2, “Think And Do List” .

4.5. Dealing with Self

Marriage Concept

( Gen. 2:7 ; Phil. 3:8 ) God formed man out of the dust of the ground. By God’s breath, man received consciousness, a capacity to think, and an awareness of his environment and surroundings. Man’s very being depends solely upon God. Man without God is nothing.

( Gen. 1:26-28 ) God created mankind, Adam and Eve, as one entity. Mankind is mated to God and through the imaging process to be the revelators of God’s love to the world. God blessed them, and endued them with power to be prosperous in all areas of living. All that was required was for man to voluntarily stay mated and submitted to God’s authority – His word.

( Eph. 5:21 ) Both husband and wife, as separate entities, are subject to the Lord first, then to one another. By this act of obedience, recognizing God as Creator and Sustainer, they would merge into one flesh. The concept of marriage applies to the body of Christ as His bride being merged into one by obedience – individually and collectively.

Loss of Image

( Gen. 3:1-6 ) Man tested to choose to be dependent upon God or to be independent – to become their own gods. The desire that was put into them to please God, now turned to lust to please themselves. Becoming gods they looked to themselves for resources to handle life, to find within themselves wisdom, strength, and ability to understand and control life in all its manifestations. By this choice, as they changed from self-loving-others to self-loving-self, fear became their constant companion.

Self Promotion

( Gen. 3:7-10 ) Reverential fear and awe of God and His magnificence changed to fear of punishment and a concern for the survival of the self. All man had to do was look to God, obey His word, and God would take care of everything else. Separated from God man has to look to himself for security, God no longer there to provide. Man now looks horizontally to find acceptance and approval by performing and impressing others how great he is, by controlling others, by seeking power over others: by wealth, by position. Man is always seeking to find the meaning of life within himself when the meaning of life can only be found by manifesting the glory of God in his behavior.

Remarriage

( Luke 9:23-24 ) By and through the Cross of Christ, we are enabled to resume the original relationship with God before the fall. By the cross, we are freed from the self-loving-self and become the self-loving-others, expressing the glory of God in our behavior to others.

( Eph. 4:22-24 ) We are all conditioned by life’s experiences. We are the sum of all that we encountered in life. Our culture, our environs, our circumstances in life have impacted our lives and has affected our reactions. Thus, our coping mechanisms are sensitized to cover and protect the self in competition with others. The answer to this worldly, fleshly self is to study our union with Jesus Christ, and this by the daily putting-off of the corrupted self and the putting-on of the new self by the renewing of the mind.

Battleground

( Gal. 5:16-26 ; Prov. 28:13 ; Jer. 17:9 ; Rom. 6:12-13 ) You will face constant temptations to self centeredness that lead to thoughts, speech, and actions that are devastating to the body of Christ and your own walk with the Lord. Those sins that characterized your life apart from Christ must be confessed and repented of if you are to mature as a child of God.

( Eph. 1:3-14 ; Matt. 7:12 ) Man’s problems is that he pays too much attention to himself, not too little. We already know how we want others to treat us. Thus, we are commanded to treat others the same way with the focus on the other and not self. God has given to us all we need or want. There is nothing we should seek for ourselves but to exercise who and what we are in Christ Jesus.

Intimacy

( Rom. 8:14-17 ; 1 Cor. 1:26-31 ; Matt. 5:16 ) A proper view of self comes from an understanding of who you are in Christ: that God is actively involved in your life, that He has chosen you to be a testimony of His power to the world, and that He gives you a purpose for living by conforming you to the image of His Son.

( Gen. 4:7 ; John 14:21 ; John 15:10-11 ; 2 Cor. 4:7-10 ; 2 Cor. 4:16-17 ; Matt. 6:33 ) Your contentment in all circumstances of life is dependent on your obedient responses to God in your thoughts, speech, and actions. By obeying the Lord in your daily walk, this demonstrates the Lordship of God over your life. The sense of value, of worthiness, of self-esteem comes by first seeking His Kingdom and His righteousness.

( Rom. 6:3-4 ; Rom 6:13-14 ; Col. 3:5-11 ; 1 Pet. 2:11-12 ) Envy, jealousy, covetousness, and greed reveal a self-focus that questions God’s work and provision in your life. These sins must be put-off out of your commitment to live for Jesus Christ.

( 2 Tim. 3:2-7 ; 2 Pet. 2:1-3 ) In latter days, we will be lovers of self, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Being a hearer only, you will be deluded.

Bearing His Image

( Col. 1:10 ; 1 John 3:8 ; Phil. 2:12-13 ) Daily walking in Christ, committing our will to please God, being fruitful, increasing in the knowledge of God, strengthened in His power, these changes in lifestyle give evidence that we are a child of God. As such, the potential of Christ resides within you always ready to be a blessing, destroying the works of the devil, and to reign in life through righteousness.

Work Out Your Salvation (Phil. 2:12-13)

Memory Verse(s):

Luke 9:23-24 , meditate on this verse.

Devotion:

BSAF on Eph. 4:26-27,29 .

Put-Off/Put-On:

Review Gal. 5:19-21 ; Col. 3:5-13 . Check out sinful thinking patterns. Make up Section A.2, “Think And Do List” to change these patterns and establish right thinking, and right doing.

Reference: Chapter 9, [5][BCF1]; [23][Smith1].

Attachment – Continual Self-Evaluation

( Matt. 7:5 ; Eph. 4:29 ; Matt. 5:16 ) In biblically evaluating your thoughts, words, or actions in any situation, answer the following questions. You should memorize both the questions and the references verses.

1.         Is this profitable? In other words, does this contribute toward the development of godly traits or help to accomplish biblical responsibilities in my life or in the lives of others? ( 1 Cor. 6:12 ; 1 Cor. 10:23 )

2.         Does this bring me under its power or am I controlled by it in any way? ( 1 Cor. 6:12 )

3.         Is this an area of spiritual weakness (a stumbling block) in my life? ( Matt. 5:29-30 ; Matt. 18:8-9 )

4.         Could this lead another brother in Christ to stumble? ( Rom. 14:13 ; 1 Cor. 8:9-13 )

5.         Does this edify (build up) others? Is this the biblically loving thing to do? ( Rom. 14:19 ; 1 Cor. 10:23-24 )

6.         Does this glorify God? ( Matt. 5:16 ; 1 Cor. 10:31 )

Reference: Page 130, [5][BCF1].

 

4.6. Anger and Bitterness

We are the sum of what we experienced in life and our reactions to these experiences. To the extent we are offended, become angry and irritated, we are limited to that extent in our spiritual walk.

•           ( Rom. 12:10-11 ; Gal. 6:1 ) Our job is to restore, not to condemn or criticize, so that we can establish God’s Kingdom of peace on earth by walking free of irritations, of criticism, of faultfinding, of blame shifting. This is accomplished by purity of heart, love and prayers for each other, consciousness of being in the spirit by faith ( Gal. 5:22-23 ).

•           ( Eph. 4:31-32 ; Gal. 6:14 ) By an act of our will, we put-off, and by an act of the will we put-on being a blessing. No longer controlled by life’s irritations, but we use these irritations as opportunities to reveal Christ within to touch the other person(s).

•           ( Matt. 12:34-35 ) No one or thing is the cause of your anger. The offense reveals the spirit that is in you. Sinful anger reveals that you are living to please self.

•           ( Eph. 2:1-6 ) Desires of the flesh and mind are inhabited by envy, jealousy, greed, and pride: the sources of anger. The enemy’s job is to keep you occupied and earthbound by these selfish feelings. This will keep you from realizing the fullness of who and what you are in Christ Jesus.

•           ( Rom. 5:3-5 ) Anger and bitterness are two noticeable signs of being self-focused, and not trusting God’s sovereignty in your life. Don’t need to protect your ‘rights’, the defense of self. The very things that upset you, God will use to perfect and to motivate you to work through these tribulations, becoming a blessing instead of a curse.

•           ( 2 Pet. 1:4 ) Being a partaker of the divine nature, working through the experiences of life God’s way, we begin to realize that we are growing in Christ, and truly being freed from the corruption of this world.

•           ( Matt. 5:16 ; Eph. 4:1-3 ) Anger and bitterness are formidable obstacles to biblical love, harmonious relationships, and maturity in Christ. Failing to put off anger grieves the Holy Spirit and gives Satan a place in your life obscuring your witness to others, and disrupting unity in the body of Christ. Dealing biblically with anger and bitterness requires wholehearted obedience to God’s word in every circumstance and with every person, even if your feelings dictate otherwise.

•           ( 1 Pet. 1:13-16 ; Eph. 2:10 ; Phil. 3:13-14 ) Anger and bitterness have no place in thought. We are to think dispassionately. The world lives by experiences, by reason, by feelings, but we are to live by faith. We are to live above experiences and reason. In order to think with security, we must think about thinking. A thinking person realizes who and what he is in Christ. He is above feelings and lives by his will based on the word of God. He fights a good fight of faith, not feelings, and he pursues excellencies being daily conformed to the image of Christ.

•           ( Gen. 4:7 ; Prov. 24:10 ; Prov. 21:22 ) You are responsible for controlling your spirit. Since God’s word commands you to put away anger and bitterness, then it is possible to do so.

•           ( Luke 9:23 ; Gal. 5:16-17 ) Because of the ever-present temptation to live for self rather than to live for God, you must obey God’s word, pray habitually, constantly depend on God’s Spirit.

•           ( Col. 1:10 ) You are not to allow anger to get the upper hand and gain control of your mind or conduct, since Satan uses these opportunities to affect your life. You must live in a manner to please the Lord no matter how you feel.

•           ( James 1:19-20 ) Quick to listen means to be quick to ask questions, to get facts, to give time for the Holy Spirit to control you, then you can act in a biblical manner.

Think Biblically

( Phil. 4:8 ; Ps. 23:1-6 ) We are to think biblically that God has promised to care for us in any situation, no matter how unsettling it may seem. Discipline your mind to honor and glorify God, to please Him in all situations. “Think” kind and tender thoughts toward the very person with whom you are or have been irritated. Focus your thoughts on solving the current problem ( James 1:5 ; James 3:13-18 ).

Speak Biblically

( Ps. 51:1-4 ; James 5:16 ; 1 John 1:9 ; Phil. 3:13-14 ) We are to speak biblically, confess sins to the Lord and to those whom you have failed to love in a biblical manner. Don’t talk about your past accomplishments, sorrows or defeats, hurts and pains but talk about the goodness of God in your life. Do not slander, gossip or use words that do not edify ( Prov. 10:18 ; Eph. 4:29 ).

Act Biblically

( Col. 3:13 ; James 1:21 ) Forgive others readily as God has forgiven you. Meditate on Scriptures related to overcoming anger and bitterness to remove the root of the foul spirit within.

( Ps. 1:1 ) Identify all danger signals, such as situations, places and personal contacts that bring temptation.

( Matt. 5:23-24 ) Make amends for wrongdoing and seek reconciliation.

( 1 Pet. 3:8-9 ) We are called to be a blessing especially to those who revile us.

Work Out Your Salvation (Phil. 2:12-13)

Memory Verse(s):

Eph. 4:26-27,29

Devotion:

BSAF on Luke 6:27-31 .

Put-Off/Put-On:

( Phil. 4:5 ) Gentleness means forbearing, large-hearted, courteous, generous, lenient, moderate. These are qualities which are opposite to irritability, rudeness, abrasiveness. To put on gentleness, ask self:

1.         “What or whom are you most likely to be irritable? What is it about your surroundings that irritate you? About yourself? About friends, associates, family? When are you most likely to be irritated? How do you express irritability?” (A Homework Manual for Biblical Counseling, Wayne Mack.)

2.         Make plans to deal with these situations in your thinking, speaking and acting patterns as described in the respective headings in the above paragraphs. See Eph. 4:22-32 for communication guidelines on how to biblical respond to life’s circumstances.

3.         Note: Do not suppress feelings of anger. Turn all offenses over to God the Father, let Him deal with the situation. Ask Him for grace to respond biblically ( 1 Pet. 2:23 ).

 

4.7. Depression

Perspective

•           Depression is essentially irresponsibility. There are some organic malfunctions that may trigger feelings of depression. Most symptoms and maladies defined as depression are the consequences of unbiblical habits and/or sinful reactions to circumstances and other people. Depression may be experienced by anyone and must be dealt with from God’s perspective and not from your own perspective or any other person’s philosophy.

( Gen. 4:3-7 ) God commands us by His word not to live by our feelings, but to decide by my will to respond in a manner which is pleasing in His sight. To react to please self is to be mastered by the reactions which is sin.

( John 15:8-12 ; James 1:22-25 ) Depression is not to be used as an excuse for you to live in an unbiblical manner. Even if you feel depressed, you are still to live biblically. Your thoughts, words, and actions are always to edify others and bring glory to God instead of just obeying God’s word when you “feel like it”.

( Ps. 32:3-5 ; Ps. 38:1-10 ; Col. 3:25 ) Symptoms defined as ‘depression’ are sometimes precipitated by sin which means you are living to please yourself instead of living to please the Lord. If you do not repent, confess your self-centeredness and return to living in a biblical manner, you will experience even further difficulties.

( 1 Pet. 3:10-12 ; Rom. 8:11-14 ; Heb. 4:15-16 ) To love life and see good days, you must turn from doing evil and be obedient to God’s word. In spite of ‘feeling’ depressed, you can live biblically because of divine resources that God graciously provides for you. By faith be in the spirit, see self in the Throne room looking at life from God’s perspective ( Gal. 5:16 ; Rom. 8:2 ). Pursue peace and harmony, run after it, flee from fear, agitating passions, and immorality ( Ps. 23:1,6 ).

( Rom. 14:17-18 ; 1 John 4:18-21 ; Phil. 4:6-7 ) The way you feel and the way you view yourself, your relationships, and your circumstances are often indications of whether you are living to please yourself or living to please the God. It is not the world or things of the world that should occupy our thoughts and time, but are you approaching life from God’s perspective, living and thinking God’s word. Fear, darkness, depression reveal an absence of loving God and my neighbor. It is our thinking which refuses to be taught by Christ or anyone else. This spirit exalts itself against God – the spirit of antichrist.

Hope

( John 16:33 ; Rom. 5:3-5 ; 1 Cor. 10:13 ) No matter how difficult any situation appears, the Lord Jesus Christ has overcame it. God will not allow anything into your life that is beyond His control or beyond your ability to handle it without sinning. Trials are for your good, they will bring out the power of God in your life when you respond biblically.

( 1 Pet. 1:6-7 ; 2 Cor. 4:7-10 ) All the terrible things that are happening to you are but ‘light afflictions’. Look beyond the circumstances and see God in control, perfecting and maturing you for an eternal destiny.

Change

( 1 Tim. 4:7-11 ; Rom. 6:11,13,19 ) All that I am, my talents, my time belong to the Lord. A good steward is one who starts with God and from God. He puts off disobedience to God’s word, and puts on living a disciplined and obedient life out of a consistent desire to please the Lord instead of self. Persistency is the key, it takes sweat and tears to break lifelong habit patterns.

( Matt. 7:1-5 ; 2 Cor. 10:3-5 ; Col. 3:2,5-9 ) In order to put off sinful habits, you must first identify them by examining your life in light of God’s word. Once you have identified sins, repent, confess, and immediately put these sins aside.

( Gal. 5:16 ; Eph. 3:16-21 ; 1 Pet. 4:11 ) As you put on righteous deeds in the power of the Holy Spirit, you are to glorify God to demonstrate your love for Him and to please Him in all things. We are to do regardless of how we feel. Be conscious of and practice the Presence of Christ within at all times.

Practice

( Eph. 5:14-18 ; James 4:17 ; Col. 3:17,23-24 ) Establish a biblical schedule for fulfilling your God given responsibilities, keeping the schedule regardless of feelings of depression you may experience. Do all your work heartily as unto the Lord for His glory.

( 2 Cor. 4:10-12 ; Matt. 20:26-28 ; Phil. 2:3-7 ) Stop living to please self by following God’s commandments. Regard others as more important than yourself, be a servant to God and others.

( 2 Cor. 12:7-10 ; Eph. 5:20 ; Heb. 12:1-2 ; Rev. 12:11 ) Do not be bitter about your conditions, thank God for your circumstances or physical condition that you cannot correct. But correct all deficiencies in your life that hinder you from serving God and others. Share your sufferings with the Lord and deepen your faith.

( 1 Cor. 11:31 ; Eph. 4:29 ; Col. 4:6 ; 2 Cor. 10:5 ; James 1:25 ) Biblical self-evaluation is necessary in every area of your life which includes your actions, your relationships with others, your words and your thought life. As you obey God’s word in all areas of your life, you will receive the Lord’s blessings.

Work Out Your Salvation (Phil. 2:12-13)

Memory Verse(s):

Gen. 4:7

Devotion:

BSAF on Phil. 4:4 .

Put-Off/Put-On:

Complete Section A.11, “Scheduling Worksheet” , and begin to re-evaluate your use of time and talents to do what God wants you to do. Ask God to help you do what you should do regardless of how you feel, plan a schedule which gives you time to do all that you must do. Then get busy fulfilling your responsibilities. Make “think and do” list of profitable things ( Section A.2, “Think And Do List” ) you can think about and do when you are tempted to be despondent. Compare Phil. 4:8-9 .

Make a list of your abilities and gifts, see Rom. 12 . Make a list of specific ways in which you can serve God and other people.

Study the following verses and list things that could be circumstantial causes for depression: Ps. 32:3-4 ; Ps. 73:1-14 ; Gen. 4:6-7 ; Ps. 55:2-8 ; Luke 24:17-21 ; 2 Sam. 18:33 ; 1 Sam. 1:7-8 ; Habakkuk 1:1-4 .

Reference: Page 319, [5][BCF1].

 

4.8. Fear and Worry

•           Fear invades and underlies the whole of life’s activities such as: fear of failure, of change, of success, of rejection, of being abandoned, of loneliness, of the future, of the unknown and the endless list of phobias.

( Gen. 3:9-10 ; 1 John 4:18 ) Fear is the first emotion expressed by man, and the first emotion dealt with by the Cross of Christ. Fear is replaced by love, faith works by love, love action destroys the feelings of fear.

( Heb. 3:12-13 ) Main causes of fear are self-concerns, self-interest and self-protection. Fear is really unbelief that Christ is not living within you.

•           Fear, worry, anxiety along with anger, bitterness, resentment, guilt, envy, and other sins are just feelings. It is faith acting on God’s word by one’s will, an act of love, that supersedes feelings.

( Gen. 4:7 ; Gen. 15:1 ) When God commands us to “Fear Not!”, He is addressing our will and our mind, not our emotions. You work through fear by an act of your will because God is with you, willing you to love. Love casts out all fear ( 1 John 4:18 ).

( Gen. 1:26-28 ) God commands us to replenish and to subdue. Fear is a necessary part of our design. Fear tells me something or someone who appears bigger than I am is approaching and affecting my mind and my emotions. Fear is a red light that tells us danger is about – to signal us to call upon God and in Him to face the fear – swallow it up and go on to the next thing. We are to replace the fear with a deliberate trust and rest in God who lives in us, drawing upon Him for wisdom, strength and ability. Thus, fear triggers one more way in which God is manifested and revealed in our behavior.

( Rom. 12:1-2 ) Most of us have a belief bank full of junk. We are to renew the mind, get the junk out, and replace it with thoughts of God’s Presence. He is my Light, my Salvation, whom shall I fear: for He will give me all I need as I seek His righteousness.

( Ps. 42:1-11 ) Talk to self, tell self who God is, rehearse this reality and fear will properly disappear. For God can now be revealed in the situation.

( Ps. 23 ; Ps. 24 ; Ps. 27 ; Ps. 91 ; Deut. 28 ) Feelings only obey what I think. If despair, then despair comes, if fearful then more of the same, etc. Truth in God must be learned, that I know within that He is my strength, my adequacy, my wisdom, that His angels are all about me! We control fear by believing the truth in God.

( Heb. 13:20-21 ) God is with me at all times, He will never leave or forsake me. God loves me, accepts me and approves of me regardless of what others say or think.

( Matt. 5:43-44 ; 1 John 2:9-10 ) Regardless of what others do or not do, be always in a state of forgiving offenses, develop a permanent state of reconciliation. Choose to love, develop this disposition to love. It takes time for this idea to grow and develop into the image of Christ because it is what Jesus did. Our blueprint states that we were made to love, otherwise life does not work.

( 1 John 3:17 ) Love is an action, activated by compassion. We don’t have to pray about it, just do it! Don’t have to ask for God’s help, Holy Spirit is already in us, and it is our choice to respond God’s way allowing His love to be manifested.

( Phil. 4:13 ; 2 Cor. 12:7-9 ) Fear is part of living. We will always fear changes, new situations, and a sense of inadequacy will surround all situations. All this does is reveal the creatureness of my being and to remind me that I can’t handle anything in my own strength and wisdom. Rejoice that you can’t handle it because in each and every circumstance that you call upon the Lord Who is your strength, the more and more you grow into Him.

( 1 Cor. 1:30 ) By faith and not by feelings, call upon the Lord and ask Him that His thoughts become your thoughts, His strengths your strengths, His adequacy your adequacy. This is what is called a normal Christian life.

( Prov. 24:10 ; Prov. 21:22 ) With diligence and perseverance you can be victorious in all new situations and changes that life offers. The enemy will challenge your growth. Use the barriers he sets up as opportunities to strengthen your faith until you become perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

( John 14:21 ; John 16:33 ) He will guide us into the unknown, new territories, new ideas, new situations, and new revelations. Look forward to great opportunities to reveal your potential in Christ. Areas that frighten, God has already given it to us in Christ. As with Moses with just a staff in hand, go with whatever you have in hand, and see miracles.

( 1 John 1:9 ; 1 Cor. 13:4-8a ; Col. 3:12-14 ; 2 Cor. 5:14-15 ; Phil. 4:6-9 ; 1 John 4:18 ) In order to deal biblically with fear, you must confess your self-centered fear to God and fulfill your responsibilities in Christlike love regardless of your feelings.

( Matt. 6:33 ; Matt. 25:26 ; Prov. 16:9 ; Eph. 5:15-17 ; Col. 3:23-24 ) Worry is wickedness and laziness, reveals a lack of trust in God. To overcome worry, make a plan to accomplish today’s task and do each task heartily as unto the Lord.

Work Out Your Salvation (Phil. 2:12-13)

Memory Verse(s):

1 John 4:18

Devotion:

BSAF on 1 John 4:18 ; John 16:33 ; John 15:5 .

Put-Off/Put-On:

Review Section A.8, “Freedom From Anxiety” , follow the instructions to deal biblically with any problem you may have. Expect and look for miracles.

Reference: [24][Smith2].

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