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Welcome back to week 45. We hope the past week has been a blessed one for you. Last week we briefly considered how to view our emotions through a biblical lens. We are not to be controlled by them, but empowered by the Holy Spirit and living in subjection to the Word, we are to submit them to God for His glory. 

This week we will briefly examine some reasons for terminating a counseling / discipleship case. There are really only two categories of reasons for terminating a counseling / discipleship case. What are they?

The two categories are as follows. One, termination because of spiritual change, or growth into more Christ-likeness. Then, two, spiritual hardening, or failure to comply with Scripture. Each believer’s life is a line of progressive sanctification. It is a lifelong cycle of sin, repentance, renewal, and an ever-increasing growth toward Christlikeness; which realizes the sin part of the cycle ever diminishing. At the same time, the believer’s growth in Christlikeness will only be complete when he or she meets our Lord (Rom. 6-8). 

The believer’s life of progressive sanctification is accomplished through the active discipline of the believer himself who is continuously trusting that the Holy Spirit is energizing his efforts (Phil. 2:12-13; Col. 1:28-29). In biblical counseling it is normative for there to be peaks and valleys in the counselee’s line of progress just as there are peaks and valleys in the life of every believer. The difference in biblical counseling is that it is a time comprised of far more intense and intimate discipleship than what is experienced in the usual daily experience of the progressively sanctified saint. The reason for this is because the counselee needed additional help in living a life that is pleasing to God, and additional training is teaching them how to sustain that way of life on his or her own. In other words, those who need additional help in righteous living will also need to put forth additional effort, empowered by the Lord, to live a life pleasing to Him until it becomes habitual. 

Therefore, some reasons to terminate a biblical counseling case would be for the joyous occasions that the counselee’s problems that he presented, and others that he had been helped to see, have been biblically dealt with.[1]Another joyous reason(s) to cancel counseling is if the counselee has been restored to usefulness in the church, when the counselee understands how he was freed from his ensnarement to his sin patterns (i.e. he grasps the biblical dynamics that freed him), when the counselee has learned how to avoid future problems biblically and has developed active patterns of righteousness that have replaced his patterns of sin patterns, when the counselee knows how to use God’s Word to right himself if he should fall into sin in the future, and when the counselee can take the lessons learned from God’s Word and apply them systematically to any new and different situations that might arise in the future.[2]

The other reason to stop a counseling case is if the counselee demonstrates an unwillingness, ultimately, to submit to biblical counsel. If this is the counselee’s response, he or she demonstrates that he is not a believer (Rom. 8:6-8; 1 Cor. 2:14; Eph. 2:1; 1 John 3:3-4, 7-8). At this point the counselor should shift gears and attempt to evangelize the unbeliever (Mark 16:15). Sadly, at this point, it is very common for a counselee to self-terminate the counseling / discipleship case. However, we want to encourage you that your job is not over. Earnestly pray for that person’s salvation. If they are still breathing there is still hope that our gracious Lord will save them from their sin and His eternal punishment of that sin. 

We hope our short time considering when to terminate counseling / discipleship was helpful. Lord willing, next week we will briefly examine if there is a place in biblical counseling / discipleship for casting out demons. Are we to be exorcists or Ghostbusters? Until then may our Lord bless you and keep you.

[1] Jay Adams, Ready to Restore (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1981), 31.

[2] It would be wise to check up on the counselee’s perseverance in biblical practice within a few months after the counseling case has ended to encourage him to continue or to instruct further (cf. 2 Tim. 3:16-17).

Foundations of Biblical Counseling: Viewing Emotions Biblically Foundations of Biblical Counseling: Casting Out Demons?