And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Rom 5:3-6)

Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. (Psalm 69:6)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

An Overview of Biblical Counseling Part 7 Personal Responsibility and Forgiveness

Personal responsibility before God

            In Nouthetic counseling it is essential that the counselee needs to be led to take personal responsibility.[1]  Many people in secular therapies and in worldly wisdom are well versed in passing the blame.  Some counselees will hold fast to a victim mentality that they believe entitles them to special circumstances of behavior. Blame shifting is one of the sins that most Christians seem to tolerate.  However, scripture is quite clear that we are responsible ourselves for the way in which we respond to circumstances.  Therefore it is imperative in counseling to help the counselee understand that the cross has afforded them God’s help in change.  Again we can bring forth the gospel in application to our daily lives.  James chapter one, 1 Corinthians 10:13, and a multitude of other verses are written for our being equipped to stand in God’s strength rather than succumb to our sin nature.

Equipping the Counselee to Forgive  

Contrary to what is often admonished by the world, the misfortunes of life that happen to us do not afford a right for us to take revenge or to demand our rights.  The counselor can find great relief is given when teaching the counselee about denial of self and of forgiveness.  This responsibility unto God is seen in how Christ behaved in our stead upon the cross and how as we have been forgiven we ought to forgive.[2]

Therefore the doctrine of forgiveness must become a part of the very being of the counselee.  We may need to confront them where there is a need to go and seek forgiveness.  Scripture tells us to examine ourselves before taking the Lord’s Supper, otherwise we may eat it in judgment.[3]  And Jesus Himself spoke of what procedures we must take when confronted with the separation from God that occurs in our unresolved issues with others.[4]

There is also a great demand for counselees, especially those who idolize anger, to forgive others.  We see this in the parable of the unrighteous steward and in the Sermon on the Mount.  If we can lead our counselees to freely forgive we will be setting them on a course of joy and happiness.

Another facet that is essential to counseling is helping the counselee to recognize that by holding onto unforgiveness or to sinful habits they are in fact idolizing sin.  We need to illustrate that by holding onto their sin they are rejecting the sovereignty of God and trying to be their own masters.  Further, they are looking for satisfaction in that which is not of God.  This is why in Galatians chapter five Paul teaches that “those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.[5]  As a counselor who loves those for whom Christ died we are compelled to share with them these truths.

[1] Romans 14:12,  Hebrews 13:17
[2] Matthew 18:23-35
[3] 1 Corinthians 11:27
[4] Matthew 5:23-24
[5] Galatians 5:21

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