It is shocking to some counselees that we don’t focus on anger or drunkenness specifically while counseling. It is not profitable to simply pull the bad fruit off the tree because soon new bad fruit will grow in its place. The consequences you are experiencing are the result of the problem, not the problem. This is not to say that biblical counselors do not take serious presenting problems such as alcoholism, pornography, and other life-dominating sins seriously. In some cases, the doctrine of radical amputation must be applied immediately because the consequences of continuing in these habits of the heart can be devastating to the person and others.
Jesus said: If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell. Matthew 5:29-30 (NASB)
This means that certain presenting problems must be dealt with radically. For example, for the alcoholic, it means a commitment to cease drinking and remove everything from his or her life that tempts them to drink. It can also mean a commitment to detoxification and the cleansing it provides. For the pornography user, it means safeguards and accountability for computer usage. It may mean driving a different way home from work lest one be tempted by the adult video stores on the former route.
Radical amputation means doing whatever it takes to stop the destructive behavior, realizing the fruit that was produced has come from the root system of the heart.
“The human heart is a factory of idols…Every one of us is, from his mother’s womb, expert in inventing idols.” John Calvin
We will find the problem where it really lay; in the roots– in our heart What guides and motivates our heart is what will change our actions and the resulting fruit. When our thoughts, beliefs, and desires are set on glorifying God, there will be appropriate actions and God-honoring consequences. When our heart is set on pleasing “self,” our thoughts and actions are not naturally going to be like God’s. This presents a dilemma because God commands us in the Bible to be holy.
But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God-who chose you to be his children-is holy. For he himself has said, “You must be holy because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16 (NLT)
Practicing holiness brings glory to God. Glorifying God should be the goal of our life. I am often asked by my counselees, “Why am I here?” The simple and straightforward answer to this question could change our life: We are here to glorify God. Glorifying God happens when the focus of life changes from living for my pleasure and glory to living for His pleasure and glory. It demands that my heart change from a “me” centered focus to a God-centered focus.