In Biblical Counseling, it is important to understand why you have problems. Problems are the result of sin. When Adam and Eve lived a sin-free life in the Garden of Eden, they had no problems. When sin entered the picture, problems with God and man appeared. From that day to this, humankind has been plagued with problems. Some of them have their origin in the sins of others, some in your own sin. But, the backdrop for all problems is sin. It is from this point of view that Biblical Counseling addresses problems.
Christians create or exacerbate problems when they fail to take responsibility for their own lives, their own sins and their own failures. When the consequence of their sinful behavior becomes evident, many shift the blame to others. In doing that, they are doomed to failure in finding solution to their problems.
Subscribe to this Site
To Solve a Problem Scripturally
But, what do we mean by “define a problem Scripturally?” If a solution is to be found in Biblical Counseling, then the problem must be found in the Bible, as well. Now if you define your problem in such a way that there is nothing in Scripture that speaks to your condition-then you cannot hope to find an answer there. Consider these scenarios of Christians who defined their problems in an unbiblical fashion. As a result of these definitions, see how Biblical Counseling had nothing to say to them in their plight.
He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion. (Proverbs 28:13, NIV)
Sara: "I've got a chemical imbalance,” said Sara, "that's the reason I get so upset and scream at my family. It's really not my fault."
"Who told you that you have a chemical imbalance, Sara?"
"Why, my doctor," she said, "and he gave me this antidepressant to help with this problem. You see my problem is medical; I'm sick."
Tim, her husband, was confused. "Pastor, I don't
Let's Look Inside
know what to do. She is terrible to live with. But every time I say something about her behavior, she screams at me that she can’t help it, and stomps out of the house. I don't know how to solve this problem."
As Sara defined her problem, there was no reasonable possibility for solution. She was sick and unless modern medicine came up with a pill for the sickness of anger, her only hope was to medicate herself to the point that she could not "feel" the anger any longer. But of course, the problem was never ultimately solved. It was simply numbed until the next outburst.
Amy: "My mother beat me when I was small" said Amy. "She also locked me in the closet when she was mad at me. I have bad dreams about her. I hate her. My life has been a wreck because of the way she treated me. It's all her fault. She loved my brother, but she didn't love me.”
Amy recounted with many tears how her marriage had failed, and, tragically, how her two daughters killed themselves. She blamed all this on her mother.
Amy had been treated terribly when she was a child. She told horrible stories of abuse and sin that she had to endure for many years. And now Amy was doing to her husband and her children what was done to her. But she reasoned that it wasn't her fault, but her mother’s.
No doubt, her mother had sinned against her most grievously as a child. However, Amy wanted to charge her own sin to her mother. Amy was saying that her sin could be explained by her mother's treatment of her. She was shifting the blame. She was refusing to take responsibility for her own behavior. She had talked to various psychiatrists and psychologists and they all agreed; it wasn't her fault. But it was!
Sid: Sid was in jail for the murder of his mother. In talking to a pastor he commented on "his condition." In response the pastor said, "Tell me Sid, just what is your condition."
“Why, I'm sick” he said, “I have a chemical imbalance in my head. That is the problem. I need medical treatment for my condition. It really wasn't my fault."
"Sid, are there any other possibilities that might explain your actions better than being sick?"
Looking first at the pastor, then at the Bible he held in his hand, Sid said, while pointing to the Bible, "It's not spiritual!" Sid was determined to accept no responsibility for his sin. Like Adam and Eve before him, he was attempting to shift the blame to someone or something else. He could never even begin Biblical Counseling.
Sara, Amy, and Sid have learned that our sin-stained culture does not expect them to take responsibility for their behavior. In essence, the world increasingly is found saying, "If you let me blame my sin on someone or something else, I'll let you do the same."
Your flesh, Satan, and the world constantly strive to shift the blame of your sin onto another. Adam did that when confronted by God with his sin; "The man said, The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate” (Genesis 3:12, NASB95). Eve did the same when confronted by God, "Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate”" (Genesis 3:13, NASB95). Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent and neither accepted responsibility for their sin. So it was with Sara, Amy, and Sid. It was not their fault; it was someone or something else's fault. They accepted not one bit of responsibility for their sin. And what made it even better; they had medical and counseling professionals that concurred with their opinion that they were not responsible. These medical and counseling professionals willingly gave them excuses for their sin, and they embraced these excuses with enthusiasm. As a result, Biblical Counseling could offer no solution.
Of course, the problem with all this is under these circumstances there is no possibility of a Biblical Counseling solution for their problems. As long as they shift the blame to another, they do not have to face the fact of their sin. So, they continue with their fears, depression, tears, and drugs without any hope of solution.
Vicky: Vicky was different; she came to Biblical Counseling saying: "I can't sleep,” she said. “I am having nightmares and I’m fighting with my husband. I take an antidepressant the doctor gave me, but I think it is the reason I can't sleep. My faith and my marriage are coming apart. Can you help?”
Among many topics covered, Vicki’s use of medication was also addressed. "Vicky, you are not dealing with your sin biblically. You simply take a pill and run from your problem. If you want to get your life and your marriage back on track you must consider talking to your doctor about coming off these drugs."
A week later, Vicky came back in the office. "Well this has been the worst week of my life, but I think I have it licked."
"What are you talking about, Vicky?"
"The drugs; I stopped taking them. The withdrawal has been horrible, but I think it's behind me now. I am sleeping better and already I am getting along better with my husband. Let's move on. What's next?"
Vicky was a pleasant surprise. She was determined to live for God and be a good wife. She took Biblical Counseling seriously.
Of course, Vicky should have tapered-off these drugs under her doctor’s careful supervision. Her decision to come off them cold turkey could have produced adverse side effects and new problems. Most doctors will give their whole-hearted support to coming off behavior modification drugs, if you will give them some reason to do so. By that I mean, demonstrate by your improved behavior that you are on the way to solving your problems. Of course, some doctors will not give their approval to live without these drugs under any circumstances. In such cases, a new physician must be found who will work with you; but remember this, don’t medicate yourself or stop medicating yourself. Work with a physician.
In the next few weeks in Biblical Counseling Vicky tackled one problem after another, and unraveled each one. She made no excuses for her sin. She confronted her sin and put it out of her life. Vicky solved every problem we could identify. And to top it off, her husband came in for counseling as well.
"Vicky is a new wife. I want to do my part. Let's look at me and my problems too."
The difference between Vicky and the others is one of defining problems scripturally, and accepting responsibility for sin. She did; they didn’t. As a result, Biblical Counseling worked for Vicky.