'that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.'
1 Corinthians 2:5
'For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God'
1 corinthians 3:19
Todays post is going to rest heavily on the bible. There's going to be plenty of scriptures, but I'll post them in so you don't have to look them up.
Basically I've been looking into the idea of therapy. Because I do believe most of us could use it - but also that it doesn't necessarily mean forking out loads of money for a shrink. Firstly because secular therapy is flawed. There are some truths in it, but there is no resolution. They can see there is a problem with our hearts/minds, but because we don't allow the concept of sin, we can't ever be cured from it.
'There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death'. Proverbs 16:25
'Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.' Proverbs 3:5,6
Both God and the world have very strong ideas about what is wrong with the world and how to fix it. 'Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.' 1 corinthians 1:20-25
There are distinctives between secular and biblical counselling. Too often we assume that biblical counselling is just secular counselling with a few bible verses thrown in, or that it's secular counselling with a christian. But true and right biblical counselling comes directly from the word of God and has some clear differentiation.
Firstly, the source of wisdom. Jeremiah 17:5 -8 says “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD... ..But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him.'' So where does the wisdom come from? Is it God or is it man?
Secondly, are we targetting the symptoms or the cause? I said earlier that secular therapy has some limitations.
I want to explain why. Out of our heart come our thoughts, our behaviors and our emotions. So I just wanted to add some fancy language here. Thoughts = cognition, behaviors = volition and emotions = affections. And then I just want to point out to those of you who may have some background in therapy that there is something out there called “cognitive therapy.” So there’s a right observation, but then there’s a wrong conclusion. The right observation is that my thoughts are messed up. And then this is where I’m talking about conforming rather then being transformed. We’ll just change our thinking, and often not even with the truth. We go, “Man, I’m so broken, I can’t overcome this problem. . .”
And then along comes, “No, you can.” The whole self-help movement says, “No, you can beat this.” The whole self-esteem movement tells you, “The answer to your problem is that you just need to tell yourself you’re okay. . .even if you’re not okay.”
I liken it to this. Bless some of those kids’ hearts who get up on the X Factor auditions. Bless their hearts. Their whole life, somebody has been telling them a lie that they are a great singer. But then when they go stand before the judges, they get the truth.
How many of us are going to buy into the self-esteem movement and go before God and tell Him how great we are? Now, what if the Scriptures are actually true and we’ve got a problem God hates called sin? We’ll look foolish, absolutely foolish.
And then there’s the other end of that continuum, because maybe you don’t think you’re great. Maybe you think you’re a loser. The other end of that continuum is that there’s no hope for you. Maybe you think that your problems are too big for God, which is just as arrogant. It’s the same arrogance but just on the other end.
Every one of these philosophies, every one of these therapies has a different idea of what the problem is and what the solution is. There’s behavioral therapy says, “Just change your behavior.” The Pharisees were very good at this.
The Pharisees were the religious leaders of the time. They outwardly conformed. They were really good at upholding the Law perfectly. But more than any other group, Jesus rebuked them. Because they had no love for God, no love for Jesus and they were self-righteous. And I think we sometimes get into this moralistic deism where if we don’t outwardly sin, we’re okay. And so we make a god out of being able to adhere to the Law and being moral.
So we need a biblical view of the problem and the solution. The problem is sin, which originates in the heart but affects everything, and this is the bad news.
And the solution is not religion, which is our vain attempts to please God through works and being good. I asked William this morning, who is a really good boy, “Do you know what kind of little boys there are in heaven?”
He said, “Good little boys?”
And I said, “No, bad little boys who love Jesus.”
Jesus says, “There are none who are good but God.” Religion only leads to self-righteousness which Jesus consistently rebuked in the Pharisees.
Isaiah 64:6 says, “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.” The good news is we just talked about what the good news is not. It is not religion; it is the gospel, that God the Father sent God the Son, Jesus, who in love entered our fractured world by becoming a man. He dwelt among sinners, lived a perfect life and willing laid down His life as a perfect sacrifice in order to absorb the wrath of God (that we deserved) for sinners who would repent and be saved by grace through faith in Him. Death could not hold Him as He was raised on the third day and appeared over a period of forty days. He was resurrected from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sends God the Holy Spirit as a signed hope, help and seal to dwell in the hearts of those He calls, justifies, sanctifies and glorifies.
We look forward with hope filled expectation when Christ will come again in glory. And so the good news is that Christ did what we cannot in overcoming sin, death and darkness. Therefore, rather than trying to have a righteousness of our own, we instead have the opportunity to trust in His redemptive plan. So for those God calls, God jealously pursues His children for His glory and for our good. And in this pursuit, He sums up how He has commanded His people to life with Him with the greatest command.
That is summed up in Mark 12:29-31, “Jesus answered, "The most important is, 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."”
So I can represent the first part of this greatest command with a vertical line between God and me. This represents my vertical heart relationship with God. And the second part of that command can be represented with a horizontal line, which is my relationship with you, the rest of the world and the circumstances in which I’m currently involved.
And then I’m going to make an outlandish declaration that from God comes everything that I need for successful living. Philippians 4:19,“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
Now I’ve got to define some things. First of all, I’ve got to define a successful life. Because the world defines a successful life much differently than God does. How does the world define a successful life? Well all the things that I pursued for most of my life: money, power, prestige, possessions, position, super model looks and a great body. That’s where success is according to the world.
But God says, “No, for a successful life, look to Jesus.”
Was He well treated? No.
Did He have lots of stuff? No.
Did He drive fast cars? No.
Did He date lots of women? No.
But He was obedient to the will of His Father, even to death. That’s success. And again, this is where psychology comes in and starts to taint.
We start to think that we need things we really don’t need. “I need a new car. . .I need a new phone. . .” The Bible says that if we have food and clothing, we should be content. So everything that I need for successful living comes from God.
Now what I want to do is move beyond the immediate life, and I want to talk about the eternal life. If it’s true that I have this deceitful heart, a problem called sin, one thing that I really need is forgiveness. That’s something I desperately need. And I can’t find that in me. I can’t go, “Self, I forgive you. You are now clean.”
I can’t go to my Husband and say, “Matt, forgive me. Make me clean.” He doesn’t have that power.
I can’t go to the world and say, “World, will you make me clean?”
But God has a plan for that, to make us clean. So I need forgiveness. Something else I need is hope.
Most of the people that I have met who are depressed are depressed for this reason – they are putting their hope in something other than God. I'm not saying that's always the case, but that's my limited experience. What’s happened is, over a long period of time, a person puts their hope in themselves. “Today is the day I’m going to live this way.” And I get about two steps into my day before I fall flat on my face, and if I keep putting my hope in myself, eventually I become very frustrated, hopeless and depressed.
Remember that one of the symptoms of depression is hopelessness. If I put my hope in me, shouldn’t I be depressed? I don’t make a good God. And if that doesn’t work, then I put my hope in other people. They’ve got this same heart condition, so eventually they’ll mess up.
How many of you have been hurt by another person? How many of you have put your hope in a person and they have failed you, betrayed you and hurt you?
People don’t make good Gods. People were created in the image of God, not to be worshiped as God, not to meet your needs. God is sufficient to meet your needs so that you might love and reflect Him.
We often put our hope in our circumstances. Ecclesiastes warns us against this. Solomon says, “All is vanity and a striving after wind.” When you pursue the things of this world in the hopes of fulfillment in this world, you’ll say the same thing. He’s trying to save you the trouble because he has done it, and he has more than we’ll all have together. He’s had more women, more wine, more houses, more riches and more wisdom. But if we put our hope in God, He has already overcome the world, so no matter how bad it gets, we still have hope. We might not like what’s going on, but we still have hope.
We also find grace, faith, love and power from God. And when the Spirit of God takes up residence in a human being, It starts to change him. And the fruit of that right relationship with God comes out of Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
Don't get caught up in X Factor therapy. Find God, and enjoy the abundant life He is offering you.