It is extremely easy for counseling to become a merely human and professional activity. Counseling seeks to foster transformation in people’s lives. Counseling seeks to bring growth where there was decay, obedience where there was rebellion, clarity where there was confusion, and healing where there was hurt. Counseling requires skilful communication and careful reflection. In all of this, it is easy for counselors, pastors or Bible/Cell Group Leaders to forget the necessity of God’s involvement. Counseling all too easily deteriorates into a mere conversation, into a merely human endeavour.
However, the truth is that God produces all genuine psycho-spiritual transformation. God, by His Spirit and through His Word, is the source of all psycho-spiritual progress. God works, by His Spirit and through His Word, supernaturally—and therefore all authentic biblical counseling is inherently supernatural. Biblical counseling is not a merely human process; it is a human-Divine supernatural process. God changes lives by His Spirit.
There are many passages in Scripture which reveal this God-dependent, supernatural aspect of life transformation. We’ll briefly consider one verse that highlights it – from my favourite Old Testament prophet, Ezekiel. Ezekiel was ministering to the nation of Israel (God’s people). Though God’s people had been rescued by God and given His Word, they continually rejected Him. Their problem was that they had hard hearts; stony, insensitive hearts that were unable to love God. In other words, on their own, Israel was unable to make spiritual progress. Psycho-spiritually, Israel needed God’s supernatural intervention if they were ever going to be able to love Him and live genuinely transformed lives.
The Promise of Supernatural Psycho-Spiritual Transformation
It’s with this recognition of needing God’s supernatural help that God makes a promise to His people through the prophet Ezekiel.
“I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules” (Ezekiel 36:27).
This is a stunning promise, and the verbs alone in this verse give us reason to pause and reflect. Verbs, as you know, are ‘doing words’—they express or convey action. There are five verbs worthy of our consideration in this magnificent verse. The first two verbs have to do with God’s activity:
God says that He will put His Spirit in His people. The action denoted here is God’s action—this is something that He will give us hard-hearted people. God will give His Spirit to His people. Obtaining the Spirit is not something we do; He is Someone we receive.
Furthermore, as the other verb teaches us, God will—by His Spirit—cause us to obey Him. God produces, even creates, obedience in us by His Spirit. God supernaturally enables us to be obedient to His Word. God’s Spirit ensures, or brings about, our obedience. Amazing! We are utterly dependent upon the Spirit of God! Genuine psycho-spiritual transformation is downright dependent upon God’s supernatural involvement.
How do we know that God is supernaturally at work in the counseling process? The other verbs in Ezekiel 36:27 help us here. These verbs are not connected to God, but to God’s people: one of the proofs that God is supernaturally at work in our counselees’ lives is that they will walk in accordance with God’s Word and will be careful to obey His rules. God’s Spirit empowers us, and our counselees, to walk in God’s ways. Without God’s supernatural involvement, we (and our counselees) would be unable to obey His Word.
Biblical Counseling, as well as all discipleship, is inherently supernatural. We need God’s involvement. How reliant upon God are you for your growth? How reliant upon God are you for the psycho-spiritual transformation you seek to see in others’ lives?
Characteristics of Supernatural Counselling
Consider four criteria that we can use as a litmus test of sorts for counseling that is supernatural. Supernatural counseling will be marked by at least these four things. Supernatural counseling:
- Recognizes human inability. As mentioned earlier, without God’s work in our hearts, we are unable to love Him. The Apostle Paul says it this way in Ephesians 2:1-3, “You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” On our own, we are spiritually dead in our sin. Humans, all humans, are psycho-spiritually helpless. We need to be made alive by God. Supernatural counseling recognizes this fundamental human inability to love God and others, and desperately cries out to Him in prayer for help.
- Relies upon the Spirit of God. Biblical counselors recognize the inherent inability of people, and so are completely reliant upon the power and grace of God—available to us through His Spirit and Word. More than relying on anything else—whether it be helpful insights from secular psychology or savvy pragmatic techniques from leading experts—biblical counselors rely on God to work supernaturally by His Spirit through His Word.
- Reaches the heart of counselees. In Ezekiel, God promised to put His Spirit “within us” (קֶ֫רֶב). That is, God puts His Spirit in our hearts. God’s Spirit reaches deep our counselees’ souls, and changes them from the inside out. Therefore, supernatural counseling is never content with mere behaviour modification or symptom reduction. We are seeking inside-out psycho-spiritual transformation! We are seeking supernaturally changed hearts, which results in supernaturally changed lives. A renewed soul internally turns into a renewed life externally.
- Redounds to God’s glory. Finally, supernatural counseling brings glory to God. In Ezekiel, God reminds us that redemption and transformation are done for the sake of His glory. Ezekiel 36:22-38 clearly teaches that God’s redemption, partly seen in the transformed lives of His people, vindicates the holiness of His name. Therefore transformed lives, through supernatural biblical counselling, bring glory to the God who is at the source of that transformation.
Is your counselling or pastoring marked by these four characteristics? In which areas do you need to change?
Thank God that He reminds us, by His Spirit and through His Word, that all of our biblical counseling efforts must be supernatural. As and as we rely upon His Spirit and Word, may He get the praise from those whose lives are transformed.
Join the Conversation
How reliant upon God are you for your growth? How reliant upon God are you for the psycho-spiritual transformation you seek to see in others’ lives?