BCC Staff: Today, Jeremy continues his exploration of how focusing on Christ’s glory with counselees opens up a new way of accessing the hope of the gospel for change.
God’s Grace Is Training Hearts
Paul, referring to God’s grace, reminded Titus, “training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age…” (Titus 2:12). The grace of God is agenda driven. It is being poured out upon the saints for a purpose: to continue in the work of transformation. And Paul doesn’t give us a “sweet by and by” type of hope regarding this change. He points to “the present age.” He points to NOW!
For the person overwhelmed by the darkness of chronic sin, this truth serves as the bottom line. No matter how vivid and intense the presenting sin or temptation may be, God’s grace is committed to eradicating and destroying its influence so that His people will exhibit godly lives for His own glory. Regardless of the overwhelming sense of temptation, God’s grace infinitely exceeds it in scope and power!
A Radical Truth for Weary Counselees: “My heart still lusts. My soul continues to fear. I long to manipulate and control. Yet, as a redeemed one of Christ, I have been graciously thrust into a process wherein all such evils are now in the process of being undone. This is true in spite of me. My Savior will have it no other way! Lord, teach me by Your Word, and humble me by Your Spirit!”
Jesus: Our Blessed Hope
Counseling can often become so hyper-focused on the problem, that the most glorious reality is ignored. I will often ask counselees, “Why do you want to overcome this issue?” I’ll receive answers like, “I want better friendships” (in the case of someone who comes in wearing a psychiatric label of Borderline Personality Disorder). “I don’t want to be so angry with my children (in the case of the man citing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Or, “I don’t want to go back to jail or shame my family” (in the case of the man labeled as a pedophile).
While each of these answers warrants my attention, they will ultimately fall short of “the bottom line.” A person seeking to engage the process of transformation with such myopia will likely end up feeling as the author who laments, “I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:14).
When Paul was discussing holiness, transformation, and godly living, he did so with a grand and anticipatory heart. The present reality of change (or the battle towards such change) rested in a greater reality: the coming of Jesus Christ—the moment when the Groom will be united with His Bride, and all that is wrong will be made perfectly right!
A Radical Truth for Weary Counselees: “My change must be more than self-improvement. My hope to be different must rest in something far more eternal than convenience or comfort! Any efforts I make towards fighting the sins of my heart MUST be rooted in my love for Jesus and the call He has placed upon me to love others. Change is centered in my becoming a creature who not only abides in the love of God, but whose very purpose is to extend such love to others around me. Make it so Father, that I may bring glory to You!”
Jesus: The Bottom Line
The critical deciding factor (the bottom line) for the person steeped in dark patterns of sin is Jesus Christ! Paul makes the proclamation that Jesus “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14).
This reality must undergird every word of counsel and every recommended method. Jesus Christ has already redeemed the one who has placed faith in Him, and He is faithfully committed to unleashing His grace in that person’s life so that he or she is not merely clinging to hold on in obedience, but his or her very passions are completely reoriented for entirely new things!
A Radical Truth for Weary Counselees: “I belong to One who gave His life not only to save me from sin, but to utterly rearrange my personality! While my commitment to His good and glory may falter, His commitment to these things will never be shaken. I can confidently stand with Paul and say, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us” (Romans 8:31)?”
Remembering the “Bottom Line”
When I sit with those whose lives exhibit chaos, confusion, and what appear to be unchangeable issues and patterns, I must often remind myself of the bottom line. My counselees’ destiny is not dependent on my skills or wisdom, nor does it ultimately reside in the ones I serve. Rather, the hope of change ultimately rests in a faithful God whose passion to transform hearts far exceeds my own. I can take comfort in the words He spoke when He walked among the brokenness of this world:
“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:37-40).
May I believe in His faithfulness, and foster such belief in those I serve.
Join the Conversation
In working with the most severe and chronic besetting sins, how can remembering the Christ-centered “bottom line” impact your ministry?