- Chapter 1
- Chapter 2
- Chapter 3
- Chapter 4
- Chapter 5
- Chapter 6
- Chapter 7
- Chapter 8
An Explanation of Biblical Therapy
The Bible, which is used by Protestants, Catholics, and nondenominational Christians, is accepted by these communities of faith as the word of God. It is viewed as written by men, inspired by the Holy Spirit, inerrant, and sufficient for addressing the core of all of mans’ problems and needs. It is the instruction manual on how we are to live our lives. It is unchanging from generation to generation. Biblical counseling is more than praying for someone, it is following the Bible which is God's counsel, in God's format, for accomplishing God's purpose in our lives. There is a difference between a Christian counselor and Christian counseling. Many counselors who are Christians follow secular therapy and do not necessarily employ the Bible for counsel. The Bible is absolute, unchanging, and cuts through the confusion of our culture, our emotions, our thoughts, our life experiences, and our deceitful hearts. Biblical therapy is the process of directing, correcting, freeing, strengthening, teaching, warning, admonishing, healing, and restoring those who are confused, lost, misdirected, rebellious, or trapped in unhealthy or dysfunctional emotional, cognitive, behavioral, and/or relational patterns. The Bible provides clear direction, hope, and the power for corrective and positive life change.
An Explanation of Being a Christian
Being a Christian does not mean that we are perfect, strong, or sinless. In fact being a Christian, for the most part, is quite the opposite. We acknowledge that we are imperfect, weak in our own strength, and sinful. Being a Christian is an acknowledgment that we are lost, weak willed in our own volition to do what is right, and sinful in taking our own path and direction and putting our own will above God's will for our lives. It has been said that being a sinner does not disqualify us from following God; it is a requirement. We acknowledge that we are in need of God's grace, his forgiveness, his love, and his strength in order to find health and healing, and to obtain victory as we continuously struggle through the process of sanctification to become more like Jesus. (See section: A Message about Salvation)
Biblical References in Support of Biblical Therapy
Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
Colossians 3:16 Let the words of Christ, in all their richness, live in your hearts and make you wise. Use his words to teach, counsel, and admonish one another.
Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly.
1 Timothy 4:11-13 Teach these things and insist that everyone learn them. Don't let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you teach, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. Until I get there, focus on reading the Scriptures to the church, encouraging the believers, and teaching them.
2 Timothy 3:15-17 You have been taught the Holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Jesus Christ. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. It is God's way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do.
Hebrews 4:12 The word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than any double-edged sword, cutting deep into the inner most thoughts and desires. It exposes the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Galatians 1:11-12 Dear brothers and sisters, I solemnly assure you that the Good News of salvation which I preach is not based on mere human reasoning or logic. For my message came by a direct revelation from Jesus Christ. No one else taught me.
It is a good practice to memorize Scripture, so that when a crisis occurs, we have the knowledge and wisdom of God's direction. The Bible illuminates and prescribes good choices. God's word says that we are called upon to teach, counsel, and correct each other. It does not require us to have a PhD in clinical psychology, but a familiarity and grounding in the Bible. Many of my clients are in fact more knowledgeable and have memorized more Scripture that I have. I have learned much from my clients. With computers we can easily find Biblical verses that apply to our issues. As a Christian therapist I assist my clients in applying Biblical knowledge to their specific situation. The Holy Spirit frequently takes over and does a work on their hearts and their minds. If you are a good friend you will correct those who you believe are getting off God's track. The Holy Spirit admonishes us to speak in power and in the love.
To speak in power alone may be critical, judgmental, and confrontational. To speak only in love may be enabling friends and loved ones to continue to make poor choices. Biblical counsel requires teaching, encouragement, and holding our counselee's accountable. It also requires that we walk the talk, so that others see Christ through us and so that we may lead others closer, rather than farther, from the truth. The word of God, in and of itself, can fully equip us to help one another.
Be aware of some secular therapists and some Christian therapist who use secular therapy. They may provide counsel and encourage their clients to follow their feelings, regardless of the negative impact of their decisions on themselves and others. They may misdirect their clients to seek happiness, rather than holiness. From a Christian therapy perspective, the only true happiness comes from first seeking holiness.
If you are suffering from emotional and/or relational pain you may wish to seek counsel from a Christian who is firmly grounded in the Bible. If you are firmly grounded in the Bible and know of others who are suffering from emotional and/or relational pain, you may wish to gently approach and inquire from them if they would like you to disciple and counsel them.
My personal journal:
I will approach (name) _________________________________________________ to see if they are willing to disciple and counsel me, and hold me accountable. I will seek out a Christian counselor, who does Christian counseling. A lists of Christian counselors includes: (names)
I will commit to beginning my Christian counseling on (date): _________________________
Hope and Health for Healing
Our hope is in Christ and not in ourselves or in our own strength. Our hope is not in others such as our pastors or our therapists. The manual for therapy, which is the Bible, is not based on human ways, but on God's ways. Believers should have a great anticipation and expectation for change based on God's word, his promises, and the indwelling and assistance of the Holy Spirit. This does however require our personal response of obedience. This therapeutic approach involves the implementation of Biblical Throw Offs and Biblical Put Ons, which establishes a clear treatment plan for action, personal responsibility, and accountability. Throw Offs are the things in our lives that we should deplore, eliminate, disdain, remove, and replace with Put Ons, which are the things that we should honor, seek, take up, embrace, renew, emulate, and implement in our daily lives. (See section: Throw Offs and Put Ons in the Renewal of Self.)
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths.
Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to (spiritual) death.
Romans 6:16 Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in (spiritual) death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?
Isaiah 55:8-9 My thoughts are completely different from your thoughts, says the Lord. And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
Many believers have utilized the Bible to get back on track, through studying and learning what the Bible has to say, and following Biblical precepts. When we are able to Throw Off our old self, our former nature, and prior emotional, cognitive, behavioral, and relational ways of doing things, and be reborn, with a new spiritual self, a new nature, and obedience to following Biblical precepts, we experience dramatic change. Obedience to God's word brings hope and health for healing. That change, when it occurs, should be savored and celebrated.
Any therapeutic approach that is reliable and effective should also apply to the pastor and the therapist as well as to the client. Many professional therapists today are being trained in secular forms of therapy, without any degree or licensure requirement that they experience those forms of therapy for themselves. Pastors and therapist, being human beings, also struggle with emotional, cognitive, behavioral, and relational problems.
Pastors and Biblical therapists recognize that Biblical therapy has universal and equal application for all of us, no matter what our sin life, our position, our role, or our status. Secular therapy has a vertical relationship between therapist and client. Biblical therapy has a horizontal relationship between therapist and client, and a vertical relationship between both therapist and client in their relationship with God.
Biblical Therapy for the Non-Believer
Nonbelievers, whether atheists or agnostics, may also utilize the Bible to find useful, effective, age tested, tools for help in overcoming their emotional, behavioral, cognitive, and relational problems. Many are surprised at the wisdom of the Bible and have come to faith and trust in God, becoming believers. Biblical therapy has served as a pathway for pre-Christian nonbelievers, being led to salvation through acceptance of the authority of the Bible and through acceptance of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
The Change Process, Victory over Ourselves and Our Emotional and Relational Problems
Why do we do what we do? Because of our upbringing, because of our self-esteem, because of our personality, because of our education, because of our culture, because of our learned behavior, because of our chemical makeup, because of our unmet needs,… etc.? What do the fields of sociology, psychology, philosophy, biology, neurology, and psychiatry say about our motives?
The Bible states that our heart is the source of our choices and the source of our motivation.
Luke 6:45 The good man brings good things out of the goods stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.
Matthew 12:35 A good person produces good words from a good heart, and an evil person produces evil words from an evil heart.
Jeremiah 17:9 The human heart is most deceitful and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?
Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.
The Bible does not validate the psychological and sociological perspectives that man is basically good. We may be self-actualizing by worshiping and serving our own desires, pursuing happiness rather than holiness, and pursuing our own self-centered ambitions, rather than living according to God's will for our lives. We cannot totally explain human behavior by our chemical composition or our brain chemistry. One only needs to look at the local, national, and world news to realize the basic sinful nature of man. Emotional, behavioral, and relational problems are likely outcomes in the pursuit of our own desires. We do not like to think of ourselves as being sinful or living in sin. Our battle to change, however, is basically against ourselves and our own human sin nature. We need to change the way we perceive, think, feel, and act, in order to have victory over the emotional, cognitive, behavioral, and relational problems that we face.
James 4:1-3 What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Is it not a whole army of evil desires at war within you? You want what you don't have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous for what others have, and you cannot possess it, so you fight and quarrel to take it away from them. And yet the reason you do not have what you want is that you do not ask God for it. And even when you ask, you do not get it because your whole motive is wrong - you want only what will give you pleasure.
Ephesians 2:1-3 Once you were dead, doomed forever because of your many sins. You used to live just like the rest of the world, full of sin, obeying Satan, the mighty prince of the power of the air. He is a spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passions and desires of our evil nature. We were born with an evil nature, and we were under God's anger just like everyone else.
We need truth from outside of ourselves in order to overcome our human nature, our faulty thinking, our emotions, our experiences, and the distortions of our cultural influences. We need consistent, unchanging guidance in order to get on and stay on the right path. The Bible provides inerrant and sufficient counsel to overcome our cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and relational problems.
Many of our current problems that we label as diseases, disorders, dysfunctions, or chemical imbalances, are a medical or psychological reframing of the basic problem of sin. By calling many of our problems anything other than sin, is to minimize the problem and remove personal responsibility. We culturally redefine strip bars as gentlemen's clubs, redefine sexual and violent movies and video games as being for “mature” audiences, redefine killing unborn children as freedom of choice, justify extramarital affairs as responses to unmet needs, and remove personal responsibility for divorce by stating that “things” just did not work out. All of these decisions result in painful emotional, behavioral, and relational consequences. When we suffer from depression or anxiety due to our own poor choices, or the poor choices of others, we frequently seek help through medications.
This is not to say that some anxieties and depressions, especially where allowed to become chronic, do not have a biochemical influence. These may respond well or in part to medication management.
When we immerse ourselves in gambling or pornography, we prefer to label ourselves as having an addiction or a disorder. A basic definition of sin is a violation of our relationship with God. A similar definition of sin is putting our will above God's will for our lives. We have free will over our choices. Confession of sin, surrender, and repentance (turning 180°) are essential to the process of change. In terms of Alcoholics Anonymous, acknowledging that we have a drinking problem (confession), that we are powerless over alcohol (surrender), and that we commit to total abstinence from alcohol (repentance or turning 180°), establishes both personal responsibility for the problem as well as for the solution.
I am not saying that it is a sin to be an alcoholic, to be depressed, to be anxious, to be angry, or to have relational conflicts. However it is a sin, once we know that we have these problems, to continue to feed the problems. For the most part manifestations of depression, anxiety, negativity, anger, and relational conflicts are the result of poor choices by ourselves or by others. We need to avoid cognitively reframing problems in such a manner that minimizes or depersonalizes the problem. We need to provide hope through maximizing God and his power to help us overcome our problems by following his direction. It may just be that our problems are not too large, but that our faith is too small. We also need to recognize that sanctification, becoming more holy, is a process rather than an event or a destination, fraught with constantly struggling against our own sin nature. In terms of Alcoholics Anonymous, expect relapse. What we are incapable of changing under our own power, believers can have victory over sin through empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
Ralph Waldo Emerson stated that if we sow a thought we will reap an action; if we sow an action we will reap a habit; if we sow a habit we will reap our character; and if we sow our character we will reap our destiny.
It has also been said to be careful of our thoughts, for our thoughts become our words. Be careful of our words, for our words become our actions. Be careful of our actions, for our actions become our habits. Be careful of our habits, for our habits become our character. Be careful of our character for our character will determine our destiny.
We can be deliberate about what we choose to Throw Off, and what we choose to Put On. We can add or remove specific people, reading materials, places we frequent, movies, articles of clothing or how we dress, music, television programs, video games, activities that we engage in, and other things we choose to immerse ourselves in. These daily choices will impact and shape the way we think, the way we feel, the way we act, and the way we relate to others. If we immerse ourselves in television, in sex and violence, our thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and behaviors will be influenced in that direction. What goes into us, or more accurately, what we choose to put into ourselves, will affect what comes out of us. It has been said that we are what we eat. Anything we choose to feed will grow, and anything we choose to starve will shrink and eventually die. We need to be more deliberate about what we consume.
If we build the foundation for our lives on our careers, our finances, our education or degrees, our pleasurable experiences, our accumulation of material wealth, our popularity, our status, or any other worldly pursuit, we will eventually find ourselves lost and disappointed. If we build our lives on the foundation of God's word, the Bible, and on our relationship with Jesus Christ, we will find fulfillment, a peace, and a joy, that we can never obtain through medications or therapy. As one pastor stated, Jesus plus nothing equals everything. Everything minus Jesus equals nothing. We need to be more deliberate about the foundation upon which we build our lives.
Attitude is also a choice. There is a story of a preacher in California who had two newly relocated families joining his congregation on Sunday. The Johnson family inquired as to how people were in this new city. The preacher responded by asking them how people were in their prior hometown. The Johnsons stated that people in their former community were competitive, gossipy, and unfriendly. The preacher responded that unfortunately, the Johnsons would more than likely find people to be the same way in their new community.
The Ryan family also inquired as to how people were in this new city. The preacher responded by also asking them how people were in their prior hometown. The Ryans stated that people in their former community were warm, caring, and friendly. The preacher responded that the Ryans would most likely find people to be the same way in their new communit.
Changing our thoughts, feelings, attitudes, behaviors, and relationships is a decision of our will to do the Word. It is a matter of choosing obedience rather than following our feelings or doing what is customary within our culture. We need to confess our wrong direction, surrender our will to God and to Biblical precepts, and take on a willingness to be led by the Holy Spirit.
We need to choose righteousness, perhaps at the expense of immediate happiness or short-term gratification. We need to transfer trust in ourselves to trusting God. God demands change from feeling-motivated living to commandment-motivated living. If we immerse ourselves in the Bible and God's precepts for our lives, our thoughts, attitudes, feelings, behaviors, and relationships will be influenced in a positive direction.
Biblical References in Support of the Change Process
Ephesians 4:22-23 Throw off your old evil nature and your former way of life, which is rotten through and through, full of lust and deception. Instead, there must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes.
Philippians 2:5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.
James 1:22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
Matthew 26:39 Jesus went a little farther, falling with his face to the ground and praying, my father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.
To begin the process of change, start with small realistic goals. As the saying goes, “well begun is half done.” Focus on the present. Luke 16:10 Unless you are faithful in small matters, you won't be faithful in large ones. If you cheat even a little, you won't be honest with greater responsibilities. Matthew 6:33-34 …and your heavenly father will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the kingdom of God your primary concern. So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today.
Learning any new way of thinking, feeling, behaving, or relating requires practice. Change comes about by acquiring a new skill set. Like learning to play golf or learning to play the piano, it is important to practice, practice, and practice. 1 Timothy 4:6-7 If you explain this to the brothers and sisters, you will be doing your duty as a worthy servant of Christ Jesus, one who is fed by the message of faith and the true teachings you have followed. Do not waste your time arguing over godless ideas and old wives tales. Spend your time and energy in training yourself for spiritual fitness. Philippians 4:8-9 Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and heard from me and saw me doing, and the God of peace will be with you.
Do not become discouraged and give up. Be patient and focus on God's timetable.
Galatians 6:9 So don't get tired of doing what is good. Don't get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.
Beware, information does not equal transformation. Information is not enough and does not automatically lead to transformation. Commit to practicing therapeutic exercises. See section on Therapeutic Exercises and Homework Assignments.
Change is always a two-part process in all therapies and in following the word of God.
Step #1: The old self is crucified (see section: Throw Offs)
Step #2: The new self is reborn (see section: Put Ons)
Permanent change requires not only stopping bad habits, but replacing them with good habits. We need to Throw Off old thoughts, attitudes, motives, words, beliefs, and behaviors, and Put On new thoughts, attitudes, motives, speech, beliefs, and behaviors. In the example of our thoughts becoming our words, this would mean increasing our awareness of our terminology and discontinuing or Throwing Off, our erroneous language, such as, “this is hopeless”, “I cannot take it anymore”, “you always”, “you never”, “nothing is going right”, “I can't”, “that's just the way I am”, etc…. And Putting On accurate language, cognitively reframing to a Biblically grounded understanding, such as, “I feel overwhelmed and discouraged, but I will persevere ”, “although this is difficult, with the Lord's help I can cope”, “you usually”, “you seldom”, “some things are not going right, but I still have many blessings in my life”, “although I feel unable, I will try”, “although that's the way I have been, with the help of the Holy Spirit I can change”, “I feel overwhelmed and discouraged, but I will look for God's hand in my life and in this circumstance”, “things are not going my way, yet I know that God is sovereign and works all things to the good for who love him”.
Ephesians 4:17-25 With the Lord's authority let me say this, live no longer as the ungodly do, for they are hopelessly confused. Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far away from the life of God, because they have shut their minds and hardened their heart. They do not care anymore about right and wrong, they have given themselves over to immoral ways. Their lives are filled with all kinds of impurity and greed. But that is not what you were taught when you learned about Christ. Since you have heard all about him and have learned the truth that is in Jesus, Throw Off your old evil nature, and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead take on a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes. You must display a new nature, because you are a new person, created in God's likeness, righteous, holy, and true. Put away all falsehood and tell your neighbors the truth because we belong to each other.
Romans 5:3-4 More over let us exalt and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. And endurance develops maturity of character. And character produces joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation.
Romans 8:28 We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him.
Galatians 5:19-21 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your life will produce these evil results: sexual immorality, impurity, eagerness for lustful pleasures, idolatry, participation in demonic activities, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, divisions, the feeling that everyone is wrong except those in your own little group, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other kinds of sin…
Following the qualities of our human nature are generally the things we need to Throw Off.
Galatians 5:22-23 But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, we will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…
Following the qualities of our spiritual nature are the things we need to Put On. These qualities are generally the antidotes for anxiety, damaged self-esteem, depression, anger, relational conflicts, and most life dominating problems.
When we make poor choices, the painful consequences we experience may be God's way of disciplining us to get us redirected and back and the path of healing.
Hebrews 12:5-6 And have you entirely forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you, his children? He said, my children, don't ignore it when the Lord disciplines you, and don't be discouraged when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes those who he accepts as his children.
Hebrews 12:10-11 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God's discipline is always right and good for us because it means we will share in his holiness.
No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening - it is painful! But afterward there will be a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
When we make Biblically prescribed choices, positive change and victory over life's problems is possible. Where do I wish to have victory over myself, and what specifically do I wish to change:
What specific cognitive, emotional, behavioral, or relational problem, within my human nature, do I wish to Throw Off:
What specific quality of thinking, feeling, behaving, or relating, aided by my spiritual nature, do I wish to Put On:
(See section: Throw Offs & Put Ons in the Renewal of Self)
Role of the Holy Spirit in the Therapeutic Process of the Believer
The Holy Spirit of God is sovereign and can change man's nature. The Holy Spirit is not an “it”. The Holy Spirit is a “He”, the third person of the Trinity. Working in perfect harmony with the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit has a mind and he has a will. The Holy Spirit was active in creation. The Holy Spirit is the author of the Bible and the Holy Spirit provides all that we need.
Genesis 1:1-2, 26 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was empty, a formless mass cloaked in darkness. The Spirit of God was hovering over its surface. Then God said, let us make people in our image, to be like ourselves.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God's way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped, for every good thing God wants us to do.
The role of the Holy Spirit in the present day is: To indwell in the believer at the moment of belief/faith. To guide the believer. To teach us. To convict (not condemn) believers of our sins. To correct us. To rebuke us. To lead the believer in the process of sanctification or spiritual growth to become more and more like Jesus. The Holy Spirit helps us, strengthens us, and gives us counsel. The Holy Spirit has been given to us to renew us in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness. He prompts, leads, and guides us. He gives us power to overcome temptation and to do what is right beyond what we can accomplish under our own power and our own understanding. He gives us wisdom and discernment. The Holy Spirit gives us spiritual gifts to accomplish good works.
The Holy Spirit, being of God, reveals to us the heart and mind of Jesus and the Father. The Holy Spirit prompts and leads us to take action consistent with the Father's will. The Holy Spirit both equips and empowers us to make positive life changes.
Only believers are able to understand the things of God inspired by the Holy Spirit. Nonbelievers may not be able to grasp Biblical wisdom such as: in order to be great one must be a humble servant; that it is when we become weak that we are made strong; that the first shall be last; that God disciplines only those whom he loves; and that we look through hard times as a means of developing strength, character, and a deeper relationship with God. This is the point at which many nonbelievers feel abandoned by God and cannot fully understand or appreciate Biblical counsel. Through Biblical therapy nonbelievers either begin to understand and grow in their spiritual belief, or continue to be lost, seeking secular counsel, believing in their own way, acting under their own strengths and understanding, and trusting their own experience. There is great hope however, in that many believers, who previously lacked faith, prayed for and received the faith to believe. If you would like to become a believer right now, jump ahead to section: A Message about Salvation.
Biblical References regarding the Role of the Holy Spirit
John 16:13-14 When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not be presenting his own ideas; He will be telling you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. He will bring me glory by revealing to you whatever he receives from me.
1 Corinthians 2:10-12, 14 But we know these things because God has revealed them to us by his Spirit, and his Spirit searches out everything and shows us even God's deepest secrets. No one can know what anyone else is really thinking except that person alone, and no one can know God's thoughts except God's own Spirit. And God has actually given us his Spirit so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us. But people who do not have God's Spirit cannot understand these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them because only those who have the Spirit can understand what the Spirit means.
Isaiah 55:8-9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts
Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to (spiritual) death
1 John 2:26-27 I have written these things to you because you need to be aware of those who want to lead you astray. You have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you do not need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you all things, and what He teaches is true - it is not a lie. So continue in what He has taught you, and continue to live in Christ.
Romans 8:26-27 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our distress. For we do not even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray. The Holy Spirit prays for us with groans that cannot be expressed in words. The Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God's own will.
1 Corinthians 12:4 Now there are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but it is the same Holy Spirit who is the source of them all.
1 Corinthians 12:11 It is the one and only Holy Spirit who distributes these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.
Ephesians 5:17-18 Do not act thoughtlessly, but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don't be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you.
Luke 4:1 Then Jesus returned to Galilee, filled with the Holy Spirit’s power
1 Corinthians 6:11 There was a time when some of you were just like that, but now your sins have been washed away, and you have been set apart for God. You have been made right with God because of what the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of God have done for you.
1 Corinthians 6:19 Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
2 Corinthians 3:18 And all of us have had the veil removed so that we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him and reflect his glory even more.
John 3:5-7 Jesus replied, the truth is, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives new (spiritual) life from heaven. So do not be surprised at my statement that you must be born again.
Romans 8:5-6 Those who are dominated by their sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. If your sinful nature controls your mind, there is (spiritual) death. But if the Holy Spirit controls your mind there is life and peace.
Romans 8:12-13 So, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation whatsoever to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you keep on following it, you will perish. But if through the power of the Holy Spirit you turn from it and its evil deeds, you will live.
Galatians 5:22-23 But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
What specific form of help or assistance do I need to pray for, to the Holy Spirit, in order to obtain wisdom, direction, and empowerment to overcome my specific emotional, cognitive, behavioral, or relational problems:
Throw Offs and Put Ons in the Renewal of Self
Ephesians 4:21-23 Since you have learned all about him and have learned the truth that is in Jesus, throw off your old evil nature, and your former way of life, which is rotten through and through, full of lust and deception. Instead, there must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes.
In order to produce lasting or permanent change, we must not only stop doing a bad habit, we must put a positive behavior in its place. Persisting in a new behavior will develop a behavioral pattern or habit. Persisting in a new behavioral pattern will eventually change our character, and to a great extent the outcome of our lives. Throwing off old ways of thinking, feeling, and acting, and putting on new ways of thinking, feeling, and acting will eventually change our character and our spiritually directed destiny.
The Bible is full of change terminology such as: take off, throw off, put away, stop, get rid of, lay aside, no longer, put off, get rid of, discard, reject, crucify, do not, etc…. and put on, renew, begin, take up, instead, but rather, make new, renew, live by, do, become, be, etc. Most of psychology, or at least good psychology, came from the Bible. The psychological process of cognitive behavioral therapy involves not only stop thought but also thought substitution, and not only stopping a behavior but also behavioral substitution. Biblical commandments and Biblical precepts serve as the prescriptions for very specific individualized treatment plans within Biblical therapy.
A Sample of Biblical Cognitive, Emotional, and Behavioral Prescriptions
Ephesians 4:25-32 Throw off falsehood, and put on truth. Throw off stealing, and put on honest work. Throw off abusive language, and put on encouraging words. Throw off anger and bitterness, and put on gentleness and kindness. Throw off malice, and put on benevolence. Throw off rage, and put on forgiveness.
Galatians 5:19-26 Throw off sexual immorality, and put on love. Throw off impure thoughts, and put on purity. Throw off lustful pleasure, and put on self-control. Throw off idolatry (anything we put first above God), and put on Christ. Throw off demonic (fortune-telling and other negatives spiritual) activities, and put on Christ worship. Throw off hostility and quarreling, and put on peace. Throw off jealousy, and put on kindness and joy. Throw off outbursts of anger, and put on patience. Throw off selfish ambition and division, and put on generosity and reconciliation. Throw off drunkenness and wild parties, and put on sobriety and self-control. Throw off conceit, and put on humility and other centeredness. Throw off envy, and put on joy and contentment.
Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
James 1:19-27 Throw off speaking, and put on listening. Throw off filth, and put on control of the tongue. Throw off evil, and put on obedience to the message of God. Throw off corruption of the world, and put on taking care of orphans and widows.
Philippians 2:3-5 Throw off selfishness, and put on investing in others. Throw off pride, and put on humility.
Philippians 4:6-9 Throw off worry, and put on prayer and peace. Throw off wickedness, and put on righteousness.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Throw off jealousy, and put on other centered love. Throw off boastful pride, and put on humility and boasting in the Lord. Throw off rudeness, and put on respect. Throw off demanding one's own way, and put on other centeredness. Throw off irritability, and put on patience. Throw off keeping score of wrongs, and put on forgiveness. Throw off rejoicing in injustice, and put on kindness.
Psalm 37:1-8 Throw off envy, and put on trusting in God. Throw off worry, and put on patience, stillness, and waiting.
Colossians 3:5-15 Throw off sexual impurity and lust, and put on other centered love. Throw off greediness, and put on generosity, appreciation, and thankfulness. Throw off anger, rage, malicious behavior, and put on tender heartedness, mercy, kindness, forgiveness, gentleness, love, and peace. Throw off slander, and put on truth and exhortation. Throw off dirty language, and put on respect and encouragement. Throw off lying, and put on speaking the truth. Throw off wicked deeds, and put on kindness and good deeds.
1 Peter 3:9 Throw off returning evil with evil, and put on returning evil with good.
Romans 12:3-8 Throw off pride, and put on honest self-appraisal and humility. Throw off inferiority, and put on acts, and use of spiritual gifts.
Romans 12:17-21 Throw off vengeance, and put on peace and mercy. Throw off evil, and put on good.
By now you may be able to refine your specific Throw Off/Put On:
I wish to Throw Off:
I wish to Put On:
Biblical Therapy Case Examples. Throw-Offs and Put-Ons in the Renewal of Self.
As a therapist, I have increasingly noted that an individual's anxiety, depression, negativity, anger, faulty thinking, and relational problems are inversely related to the quality of their spiritual life. As their faith and trust in God grows, their anxiety, depression, anger, distorted thoughts, negative moods and relational problems tend to shrink. And as their spiritual life diminishes by spending less time reading the Bible, doing devotionals, going to church, praying, and serving others, their life problems tend to increase. I have also noted this to be true in my own personal life. When I begin the day doing devotionals, reading the Bible, and praying for others, my day goes much better. When I get too busy and gloss over or ignore my spiritual life, my negative thoughts and feelings reemerge, my day goes much worse, and life problems have a way of creeping back in.
Galatians 5: 19-21 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your lives will produce these evil results: sexual immorality, impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, divisions, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other similar sins…
Galatians 5:22-23 But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in on us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…
I have decided to share a number of Biblical therapy case examples, in order to assist the reader in developing their own unique Throw Offs/Put Ons, in dealing with their specific cognitive, emotional, and behavioral life problems. Individuals can do this on their own or in conjunction with a Christian therapist, a pastor, or an accountability partner. It should be noted that very individualized and unique Throw Offs/Put Ons can be developed for the same type of problem, according to the uniquely mismanage thoughts, emotions, attitudes, or behavioral patterns of the individual. Below I will try to list several unique Throw Offs/Put Ons that were developed during actual Biblical therapy sessions, addressing similar life problems in very different ways. Client names have been changed and their specific circumstances have been altered, in order to maintain client confidentiality.
Biblical Therapy Case Example: Damaged Self-Esteem
Judy presented with low self-esteem, feeling damaged, defective, inadequate, and that she was “not enough”. She had grown up with a father who was verbally abusive. Children in school had teased and harassed her for being overweight. She had several failed relationships with boyfriends who were verbally abusive and one who had cheated on her with her best friend. Through Biblical counseling Judy came to believe that she was created by God, in his image, and that she was unique as a fingerprint. That God had given her, her physical appearance, her intellect, her emotions, her personality, and even her life experiences, all for his purposes. She gradually developed the perspective that she was part of a much larger picture. She created the unique Throw Off, “I am not enough” and Put On “I was created for a special purpose”. She went on to become a school teacher with a personal mission of making each child feel special and of not tolerating harassment, mean-spiritedness, teasing, or bullying in her classroom. When Judy relapses to feelings that she is inadequate or not enough, she reads her life verses:
1 Corinthians 12:18-22, 27 But our bodies have many parts, and God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as he desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? Now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you; or again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary… Now you are Christ's body, and individual members of it.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
Where am I damaged:
How might God use me, even with my damage, for His purpose:
Biblical Therapy Case Example: Depression
Mark lost his job and he began to feel unimportant, with a loss of identity which predominantly came from his work. As his unemployment continued, he became more depressed, pessimistic, irritable, and increasingly more discouraged and negative. He developed financial problems and with his increasing negativity, his marriage and family relationships began to suffer. He developed an all or nothing, black-and-white perspective that ‘everything’ was terrible and that he would ‘never’ recover. Mark focused on and became preoccupied with where his cup was partially empty. Through Biblical counseling Mark worked on making a gratitude list, a list of blessings where his cup was partially full. He came to realize that for the first time in his life that he had time to spend with his wife and children. He grew an appreciation for the gift of being laid off and having marital and family time. He developed the unique Throw Off, “I am valued for what I produce”, and Put On, “I have value for who I am as a husband and as a father”. Mark came to see and appreciate where God was working in his life. Mark was out of work for a long time. When he did find another job, he continued to maintain a balanced lifestyle, making time for his wife and children, and appreciating being of value for who he is, rather than being of value only for what he does. When Mark gets his lifestyle out of balance by overworking, or when he worries about becoming unemployed, he prays his life verse:
Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?
What am I depressed/anxious about:
In what circumstance do I need to have more trust in God:
Biblical Therapy Case Example: Lying
Tom presented for therapy on the verge of his wife divorcing him. Tom grew up with harsh negative parents, and learned to tell them what he thought they wanted to hear, rather than telling them the truth. In later life he developed marital problems related to dishonesty and telling his wife lies. He would tell needless lies about insignificant things, significantly damaging their relationship and their foundation of trust. Through Biblical therapy, Tom made the decision to Throw Off “telling untruths” and Put On “telling the truth”. Tom had to continue practicing honesty, by catching himself even days after a false statement, confessing his dishonesty, and telling the truth. With continued practice he would catch himself after several hours. With continued practice he began to catch himself while the dishonesty was rolling off of his tongue. He would acknowledge his dishonesty and immediately correct the exaggeration, the omission, or the false statement. With continued practice he began to even catch himself while the false thought was still forming in his mind. Tom has had victory over this sin. After many months of telling the truth, or at least correcting untruths, the foundation of trust was restored with his wife. Tom selected and has memorized the following life verse:
Proverbs 12:22 The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in those who tell the truth.
Is there any dishonesty in my life that I need to Take Off:
What do I need to Put On in order to have victory over my dishonesty:
Biblical Therapy Case Example: Anxiety/Panic Attacks:
Cindy was going through some difficult times in relationship to conflicts with a coworker. She was feeling overwhelmed and dreaded going into work each day. Nasty arguments and silent treatments with each other weighed heavily on her. She also had additional stressors related to her husband and her children. Each evening she would develop anticipatory anxiety, worrying about what was going to happen the next day and into the work week. Cindy again having panic attacks the evening before or on her way into work. She made a decision during therapy to Throw Off “returning evil with evil” and Put On “returning evil with good”. She began to treat her coworker with respect. Cindy was courteous, helpful, and when appropriate, gave her coworker complements, words of affirmation, and appreciation for her contributions in the workplace. Her coworker however, continued to treat Cindy poorly. Cindy also Threw Off “worrying about the future” and Put On “being in the present”. Cindy read Bible verses related to dealing with trials and tribulations, and learned that through God's sovereignty, trials and tribulations, if handled correctly, would lead to positive changes in her character, strength and perseverance, and a closer relationship to God. Cindy's positive approach resulted in other coworkers having increased respect and a desire for friendship with Cindy. As she became obedient to God's commandments, her panic attacks were eventually eliminated, and her anxiety significantly decreased. This change occurred even before Cindy's other coworkers began to treat her better. Cindy adopted the life verse:
John 14:15 If you love me, obey my commandments.
Areas in my life where I am not obedient to God's commandments:
I will commit to being obedient to the following specific commandments:
Biblical Therapy Case Example: Pornography/Lustful Thoughts
Jim presented to counseling due to being on the verge of divorce due to pornography. His wife felt hurt, degraded, devalued, and compared to other women. She broke off physical intimacy due to deterioration in their communication, companionship, emotional support, as well as her feelings of being betrayed and used as an object for Jim's sexual gratification. During therapy Jim eventually made the decision to maintain total abstinence from pornography. He came to realize that whatever he immersed himself in and whatever he put into his mind grew, and whatever he starved shrank and would eventually die. He Threw Off “pornography” and Put On “immersing himself in spiritual material”. Despite this change Jim still had lustful thoughts of women even while attending church. Through Biblical therapy he was able to reframe women as someone's wife, someone's mother, someone’s sister, and someone's daughter. After several experiments he came up with the individualized Throw Off of “lustful thoughts” and Put On “praying for women”. Jim's sexual thoughts have significantly diminished. Now whenever sexualized thoughts towards other women begin to creep in, Jim immediately starts praying for them, that they would be godly wives, excellent mothers, loyal sisters, loving daughters, and that they would have eternal salvation. Jim adopted the life verse:
James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
I have inappropriate sexual books, magazines, movies, television shows, music, Internet sites..., etc. that I need to take off:
I will choose to put on and fill my mind with: