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Welcome back to week 23. Last week we briefly examined the authority the church has over believers and the counseling process which concluded four weeks of ecclesiology. This week we will consider the goal of biblical counseling. When someone comes to us for biblical counseling what is the goal we should have when helping them? It’s important to know this because the consequences of getting the answer wrong dishonors God and offers no true help to the other person(s).

The goal of biblical counseling is wrapped up in its definition. Biblical counseling is called “Nouthetic” counseling. The term nouthetic comes from the Greek word noutheteō which means “admonish,” or to “confront as a friend.” 

Therefore, the goal of biblical counseling is to teach one to be more Christ-like (1 Cor. 4:16; 11:1). The Bible does not call us to admonish others to better self-esteem (2 Tim. 3:1-5). The Bible does not call us to admonish one another to a better self-image. It also does not command us to admonish one another to the end of happiness in the things of this world. In fact, the opposite is true. James 4:4 teaches that loving this world’s system and its things makes you an adulterer before God. The Bible only commands us to be holy –like Christ (Lev. 11:44-45; 20:26; Num. 15:40; Matt. 5:48; 1 Pt. 1:15-16).

The goal of Christlikeness is pursued through love for Him that manifests in obedience to His Word. Doctor John Street is right when he states that “Biblical counseling is not an optional ministry.”[1] God has commanded in several passages to admonish and instruct each other in righteous living.[2] Thus, the way to pursue Christlikeness is for one to love God enough to obey His Word (John 14:15). This obviously requires knowing God’s Word. Obeying God’s Word, through the power of the Holy Spirit, will also result in loving others like you already love yourself.[3]

So, Christlikeness is the goal of biblical counseling. However, the answer to the above question would be inadequate if it were to be finished at this time. We ought to clarify that this is not a call to behavior modification. Seeking Christlikeness is not about changing one’s behavior. It is about being an agent of change in God’s hands to get at the individual’s heart. In order to call one’s counseling “biblical,” it must teach the counselee to function as God intended. God has placed us here to bring Him glory and please Him, not to please ourselves (Is. 43:7; 2 Cor. 5:9). Unless this truth is conveyed to the counselee, the counseling is not biblical and the goal has not been met. We need the Scriptures and the Spirit to help us move beyond behavior modification to heart mortification for the right reason; God’s glory. Without the aim of God’s glory motivating us to repentance the counseling is making one into a better Pharisee.    

We hope our short time considering the goal of biblical counseling was helpful. Lord willing, next week we will begin considering the sufficiency of Scripture in biblical counseling. Are the Scriptures sufficient for biblical counseling or do we need professional help? Until then may our Lord bless you and keep you.

[1] Dr. John Street, Pastoral Counseling Outline, The Master’s Seminary, (Spring 2012), 1.

[2] Acts 20:31; Rom. 15:14; 1 Cor. 4:14; Col. 1:28; 3:16; 1 Thess. 5:12, 14; 2 Thess. 3:15.

[3] Lev. 19:18; Matt. 5:43; 19:19; 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27; Rom. 13:9; Gal. 5:14; James 2:8.

Foundations of Biblical Counseling: Ecclesiology, part 4 Scripture's Sufficiency and Biblical Counseling