counseling people

“Your heart, Biblical speaking, is the inner you.”

I don’t know about you but I still find awe with the knowledge that if we are born again God has given us a new heart – a NEW inner you.  That’s profound, isn’t it?

“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” ~ Ezekiel 36:26

In his book, Joyfully Counseling People With New Hearts, Dr. Adams reminds us that despite the romantic, emotionally shallow and even philosophically skewed concept of the heart the world tends to demonstrate, God and His Word regards the heart as so pivotal that it is to be guarded with vigilance.

“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23

Dr. Adams reminds us that the only ONE who can truly know the heart of another, is God, not man.  And cautions us not to disregard this truth or find ourselves in territory that belongs solely to God.

“…for You alone know the human heart.” ~ 2 Chronicles 6:30

Without this spiritual exchange, exchanging our old heart for a new heart, we do not have the ability to do what is required to honor or please God.

As Dr. Adams points out, this knowledge is indispensible for any Christ follower but distinctly relevant to the Counselor/Counselee relationship.

“There must be a ‘new heart’ present in order to bring about the changes in a counselee that please God.  This new heart supplies the ability to understand and to do what God requires.”

It is this understanding that sets Biblical counseling apart from other modes of counseling and discipleship.  It means Biblical counseling and discipleship is only for those who are Christ followers.

By all means, we need to evangelize the lost but providing Biblical counseling and discipleship to an unregenerate heart is an exercise in futility for both the believer and the unbeliever.

“Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14

Something else Dr. Adams asks us to consider when we realize we have been regenerated with new hearts is that the Scriptures referring to our previous unregenerate condition no longer apply.

He offered multiple examples but I will simply offer two Scriptures to contrast:

The first is referring to the unregenerate heart: (in context referring to apostate Jews)

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” ~ Jeremiah 17:9

The second is referring to the regenerate heart: (in context Jesus’ parable of the soils)

“As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.” ~ Luke 8:15

Please don’t gloss over this too quickly.  This is the crux of our Hope.  We have been born again.  We have NEW hearts.  The old has passed.  We are indwelled with the Spirit.  The HOLY Spirit.

Astounding!

“It is a matter that should not be ignored.  Indeed, using proper Scripture to describe God’s people ought to be central to every counselor’s thinking.  Therein lies his hope for change.  If he can hope for nothing more than continued streams of sin pouring forth from new hearts, just as they did from old hearts, what is the use of counseling? …If regeneration did not bring about radical improvement in the condition of the believer’s heart, then what did regeneration do for him? …But the Bible does not lead us astray…People with new hearts can change – appreciably!”

Dr. Adams offers us guidance on what is meant by ‘idols of the heart’ and using the ‘put off – put on’ emphasis of Scripture to overcome sin in our lives as ones ‘upright in heart’.

“Christian counselors ought to talk to believing counselees assuming and indicating that they are fully capable of doing God’s will and therefore will follow God’s will because they have the resources to do so.”

Dr. Adams provides insight into our expectations as counselors and counselees and practical yet sober encouragement to avoid seeking perfectionism but rather strive for progress in our sanctification.

“It is a long distance from unregenerate to regenerate living.  It is not that so little progress is made by the new heart; rather, it is that so much progress is needed!”

He notes the importance of being mindful of our own ‘heart talk’ and the possible dangers associated with our inner dialog.

“Your heart talks to itself.  The question is: what does it say?”

We want to go beyond mere memorizing of the Scriptures to have them so ingrained upon our hearts that it becomes automatic to defer to Biblical thought for decision making and action.

This is to our delight.

“The precepts of the LORD are right, making the heart glad; the command of the LORD is radiant, making the eyes light up.” Psalm 19:8

Dr. Adams dutifully addresses confronting the matters of sin in the heart while counseling people, in conjunction with obedience from the heart as God works in the lives of those who belong to Him.  And it is God who receives the glory, as the counselor ministers the Word, it is the Spirit that brings about the change of heart that compels the believer to action.

“It is not so difficult to discover what needs correction if one seeks the answers in God’s written revelation, the standard He has graciously given to us.”

“As John the Apostle, near the end of his long life of living for Christ, said, “Nothing pleases me more than to hear that my own children are walking in the truth.”

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