Concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able also to admonish one another.Rom. 15:14
by John MacArthur, Drawing Near: Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith
Key Principle: Scripture is the source of godly counsel.
In recent years the question of who is competent to counsel has become an important issue in the church. Many pastors and other church leaders have curtailed their counseling ministries or stopped them altogether. They’ve been made to feel inadequate for not having formal training in psychological counseling techniques.
Behind this movement away from pastoral counseling is the subtle implication that the Holy Spirit and Scripture are incapable of addressing the deepest needs of the human heart. It is claimed that only secular psychology dispensed by trained analysts can do that.
But the truth is, the heart of man is “more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9). No one. That includes humanistic counselors. Verse 10 says, “I the Lord search the heart, I test the mind.” Only God can understand the human heart.
David prayed, “O Lord, Thou hast searched me and known me. Thou dost know when I sit down and when I rise up; Thou dost understand my thought from afar. Thou dost scrutinize my path and my lying down, and art intimately acquainted with all my ways. . . . Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where can I flee from Thy presence?” (Ps. 139:1-3, 7).
Only God knows what’s in a person’s heart. Only His Spirit working through His Word can penetrate one’s deepest thoughts and motives to transform the heart and renew the mind (Heb. 4:12; Rom. 12:2).
Professional psychologists are no substitute for spiritually gifted people who know the Word, possess godly wisdom, are full of goodness, and are available to help others apply divine truth to their lives (Rom. 15:14).
When people come to you for counsel, the best thing you can do is show them what God’s Word says about their problem and how it applies to their situation. But you can’t do that unless you know the Word and are allowing it to do its work in you first. Then you’ll be in a position to counsel others more effectively.
Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God for the wise and all-sufficient counsel of His Word. Reaffirm your commitment to share it at every opportunity.
For Further Study: According to Psalm 119:24, on what did the psalmist rely for his counsel?