What makes biblical counseling so effective? Why do biblical counselors believe the Bible is sufficient to address every need or problem of humanity? The answer is very simple—it is because we believe the Scriptures affirm they are authoritative and sufficient when it comes to providing the cause and cure for man’s problems.
Heath Lambert explains,
God defines what it is to be a human being, and he describes that in his Word. God knows what it is wrong with us and diagnoses the problem in the Bible. God prescribes a solution to our problems—faith in Christ—and reveals him to us in the Scriptures. God authorizes a process of transformation and shows us what it looks like in the pages of the Old and New Testaments.1Heath Lambert, A Theology of Biblical Counseling/The Doctrinal Foundations of Counseling Ministry (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016), 17
This God prescribed solution to our problems is found in God’s inspired, inerrant, infallible Word. One of the clearest passages when it comes to the effectiveness of God’s Word to help cure man’s problem is Psalm 19, specifically the second half of the Psalm.
In Psalm 19:7 David first proclaims,
The law of the LORD is perfect, meaning it is complete; it is sound there are no defects in God’s law, or God’s Word. David then goes on to explain the way God’s perfect law works in the heart and soul of man.
In Psalm 19 David provides at least 5 ways in which God’s perfect Word provides the cure for man’s spiritual maladies.
1. God’s Word Revives Soul
When someone is seeking biblical counsel, it is because there is a soul problem. They are battling depression, anger, or addiction, and the list goes on.
David reminds us in verse 7 of Psalm 19 that God’s law is the cure for the depraved and depress state of a man’s soul. Since the fall man’s body and soul have been damaged, warped, and depraved. This corruption of the soul leaves us in need of reviving; it needs first to be brought from death to life, but then it needs constant care and nurturing to be revived to its original state. This comes only through the perfect, living, and active Word of God.
John Calvin writes,
David’s single meaning should be considered, that as the soul invigorates the body, so also the law is the life of the soul. He also says that the soul is restored, alluding to the miserable state in which we are all born.
For the soul to be restored, converted, or revived, it must be treated by God’s perfect Word. There is no other treatment by which we must expect to correct the problems of the soul which sin has caused.
John Street writes,
Using psychology for soul-care is like dressing cancer with Band-Aids. It may temporarily relieve the pain or even mask the symptoms, but it will never penetrate the issues of the heart like God’s Word.
This leads us into the second reason God’s Word is sufficient for biblical counseling.
2. God’s Word Renews the Mind
David explains in verse 7, the testimony of the LORD is sure making wise the simple.
The testimony of the LORD in the Scriptures explains who God is, who man is, the Fall of Man, the Person and Work of Jesus Christ to redeem fallen man, the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit to regenerate and renew man, and the future return of Christ to glorify man.
It is in this redemptive work of Christ that the simple-minded grow in the knowledge of God and his plan of salvation, sanctification, and glorification of his people. As God’s people are continually exposed to God’s Word, their minds are renewed that they might understand the purpose of God’s saving work. God’s children begin to understand they have been saved from the wrath to come and that they might live to the glory of God and the good of his church.
The apostle Paul affirms David’s statement hear in Romans 12:2
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
After laying out eleven chapters of doctrine in Romans, Paul then turns to the fruits of this understanding of justification by faith alone in Christ alone, one of which is a renewing of the mind by the Word of God so that we might rightly understand the will of God.
Psalm 119:98 affirms the increase in wisdom which comes from the Word of God.
Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me.
The consistent testimony of the Word of God is that it brings wisdom to the simple. Apart from the constant renewal of the mind from the Scriptures, man will remain in his ignorant state. The apostle Paul himself affirmed this:
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.Titus 3:3
3. God’s Word Rejoices the Heart
Not only does the Word of God restore the soul, and renew the mind, it also rejoices the heart. David explains in 19:8a, the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart,
Sin’s impact on the heart often results in sorrow, depression, grief, and anxiety. However, as the child of God reads and meditates on the Scriptures, he is reminded of the nature of God, the promises of God, and the lovingkindness of God. These truths alone will bring the heart joy.
Not only does an understanding of God’s Word bring joy to the heart, but as the life of the believer is aligned with the will of God, joy increases.
Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord!Psalm 119:1
As God’s Word informs the walk of God’s people, blessedness and happiness follow. When it comes to biblical counseling, those seeking counsel often need to understand the biblical truths and precepts in order for their affections to be realigned so that their heart will rejoice.
4. God’s Word Restores Sight
The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes:Psalm 19:8b
Blindness of the unbeliever is seen throughout the Scriptures. We see it in the conversion of the Apostle Paul in Acts 9. We also see it in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians:
In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.2 Cor 4:4
There is only one way for sight to be restored to the blind. Sight must come from the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit. As men and women come to faith through the hearing of the Word of God, the scales are removed from their eyes that they might see the truth of the Scriptures and submit to the authority of God’s Word.
When it comes to biblical counseling, help is sought out by believers and non-believers. God’s Word is sufficient to restore sight to either one. For the unbeliever, the gospel of God presented from the Word of God is the power of God unto salvation. For the believer, the commandments of God and the gospel of His Son rightly understood and applied provide clearer sight for their sanctification.
5. God’s Word Represses Sinful Desires
David makes this clear in Psalm 19:13:
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.
Many times biblical counseling is sought due to an “addiction.” But what most people fail to understand is that the addiction is really an unrestrained sinful desire that needs to be confessed and turned from. It is a sinful desire that needs to be put to death. David is asking God through his Word to keep him from these presumptuous sins.
Paul reminds Titus,
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.Titus 2:11–12
It is the grace of God, by which we are saved through faith in the gospel of Christ revealed in the Scriptures, that trains us to put off old sinful behavior and put on the new Christlike behavior revealed in God’s Word.
Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.Col 3:9–10
When we consider these 5 truths from Psalm 19 regarding the Word of God in the life of the child of God, we can be certain God’s perfect Word is sufficient for counseling and soul care those who are His.
|Heath Lambert, A Theology of Biblical Counseling/The Doctrinal Foundations of Counseling Ministry (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016), 17