Biblical Counselors: Characteristics and Methods

by | Updated January 11th, 2020

The goal of any counselor should be to help clients with their problems. However, the characteristics and methods used by Biblical and psychological (secular) counselors, even many Christian counselors are drastically different.

The reason for this comes primarily from their perspective of the world and the spiritual realm. The psychological counselor views things from merely the natural realm, whereas Biblical counselors view life from a spiritual perspective where the spiritual realm dominates and greatly influences the natural realm in which we live.

2 Corinthians 4:18 – “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

2 Corinthians 2:11 – “Lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.”

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 – “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.”

Ephesians 6:12 – “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

Many Christian counselors, who love God, tragically integrate their Christian counseling with the psychology thought and philosophies of this world. They may pray and use scripture from time to time, but much of their counseling practices are derived solely from secular psychology and psychotherapy.

The true Biblical counselor, depends solely on scripture, the power of prayer, the sanctifying work and power of the Holy Spirit, and the person of Christ. They are confident that there is sufficiency in Christ alone to make the counselee whole (Colossians 2:10). Their faith is in the supernatural work of almighty God and not the wisdom of man (1 Corinthians 2:5).

Below are a few characteristics of Biblical counselors which hold them in stark contrast to psychological, secular. and even some Christian counselors.

Biblical counselors:

  1. Share the Word. The first responsibility of a biblical counselor is to point people to the Word of God. They must tell them what God says concerning their situation, struggles and problems. It worked in Moses’ day, and it will still work for us. The Word of God is eternal and scans generational barriers.

    Exodus 18:16 – “When they have a difficulty they come to me and I judge between one and another. I make known the statutes of God and His laws.”

    The Apostle Paul also knew very well that proper counseling comes from those with the knowledge of God’s Word.

    Romans 15:14 – “I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.”

  2. Are compassionate. Psychological counselors are simply doing their job, but biblical counselors care about people. They are there to give comfort and hope through scripture – the source of all hope.

    Romans 15:4 – “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”

    It’s the Word of God, the God of the Word and the power of the Holy Ghost that is the true source of hope.

    Romans 15:13 – “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”

    This all is coupled with counselors whose hearts are full of nothing but goodness toward those to whom they are counseling and ministering to.

    Romans 15:14 – “I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.”

  3. Utilize the power of God. Psychological counselors depend entirely upon their abilities, education and training. Biblical counselors do not help people in their own strength, they know they can’t do anything apart from God (John 15:5).

    They believe there’s nothing they can’t accomplish through the power of Christ (Philippians 4:13). They are also confident that the anointing of God will break every yoke of bondage.

    Isaiah 10:27 – “It shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off your shoulder, and his yoke from off your neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.”

  4. Pray. In describing Jesus, Isaiah 9:6 refers to Him as “wonderful counselor.” Jesus set a vivid example for us regarding the power of prayer and seeing people set free through the power of God. Biblical counselors, likewise, depend on the same power of prayer and anointing of the Holy Spirit to see people helped, delivered and set free from all that holds them in bondage.

    Mark 1:35 – “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.”

    Luke 4:18 – “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.”

  5. Relate to people. Unlike psychological counselors, biblical counselors do not tower over their clients with an air of superiority. They relate to and identify with their clients.

    They know they must be touched with the feeling of their weaknesses, and except by the grace of God, they would be in the same place their clients are. They help people by relating to them from their own problems and sin with same kind of help they received from God.

    Hebrews 4:15 – “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted like as we are.”

    2 Corinthians 1:3-4 – “Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort we ourselves are comforted of God.”

    Hebrews 5:2 – “He can have compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray, since he himself is also subject to weakness.

  6. Use the power of the cross. Frequently, life’s problems include what the psychological community and the world calls addictions. The Bible calls them sin. Once a person dabbles in any type of sin, they can come under its control or bondage.

    In John 8:34 Jesus said, “Whosoever commits sin is the servant (slave) of sin.” When we commit any sin, we are in danger of becoming its slave (addiction). Fortunately, there’s power in the crucifixion. We must take our sin to the cross and crucify it. If we nail the sin that haunts us to the cross it dies. If it is dead, it no longer holds us in its grip. A dead man can’t do what he once did – he’s dead!

    Romans 6:11 – “Likewise, you also reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

    Romans 6:2 and 6:6-7 – “How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.”

  7. Call sin what it is. Psychology has renamed every sin there is. Adultery is an affair, a drunk is an alcoholic, and the list goes on.

    I read an article by a minister years ago who said he was praying one day and asked God to forgive him for his mistakes. He was immediately startled by the feeling that God said, “No.”

    He prayed, “But God you’re a forgiving God. What do you mean you won’t forgive me for my mistakes?” God spoke clearly, “I don’t forgive mistakes, I forgive sins.” We must call sin what it is if we want to find forgiveness and victory.

    1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

    Confess means to say the same thing as. We are to call sin what God calls it if we are to truly experience forgiveness and victory over what holds us in its grip.

    1 John 1:7 – “If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

    There’s a present continual sense in this verse which means the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses and keeps on cleansing us from all sin. The condition is walking in the light. According to the context, walking in the light refers to walking in the light of His exposure and never concealing anything from Him.

    If we keep our sin exposed to God, His blood continuously cleansing us from it. It’s not only that we are forgiven, but it will eventually be cleansed out of our life completely. We will find both forgiveness and victory.

  8. Don’t focus on self. In most psychological and some Christian counseling, the focus is on self, self-awareness, self-esteem, self-actualization, self-fulfillment, and so on. True biblical counseling takes the focus off self and places it on the person’s relationship with God and others. The Bible teaches that God must be first in every aspect of our lives. Not only must we put God first, but also other people.

    Matthew 6:24 – “No man can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.”

    Matthew 6:33 – “Seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness.”

    John 3:30 – “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

    Philippians 2:3-5 – “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”

    When I’m having problems and I begin to minister to someone who needs help, my issues seem much less significant. We must get our eyes off of self and focus on God and others. This doesn’t mean we should ignore our own needs, but they shouldn’t be our primary focus.

  9. Properly deal with guilt. How we deal with guilt is very important. Psychologists believe most of our problems stem from guilt, but their answer is to find ways to excuse it.

    Romans 2:15 – “Which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.”

    Excusing guilt doesn’t make it go away. However, sometimes people feel a false sense of guilt. In these times the counselor must help the person understand why their guilt is false. Often the enemy accuses us and make us feel guilty about things we have no business feeling guilty about. Biblical counselors must help people understand what is taking place and engage in spiritual warfare with them.

    2 Corinthians 10:4-5 – “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

    That said, there is usually a good reason why we feel guilty – because we’re guilty! There’s only one way to properly deal with authentic guilt. The counselor must bring the person to a place of repentance and confession of their sin. They must realize what they did was wrong, be willing to turn from it (repent), confess it to God as sin, and let the blood of Jesus cleanse them.

    King David was is such a place after his sin with Bathsheba. Guilt overcame him and he ran to God for forgiveness then went on with his life.

    Psalm 32:1-5 – “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me. My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and You forgave the iniquity of my sin.”

  10. Promote accountability. One of the few things that is good about the 12-step recovery program is its mandate of accountability. Biblical counselors must bring people to a place of accountability.

    James 5:16 – “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed.”

    After a person confesses their sin they are held accountable for it. This can take place either with the counselor or at an altar service at church. A person goes to the altar to have someone pray with them, and if they feel open, may confess what they are battling with.

    This is a great opportunity to bring the person to a place of accountability. Say something like, “If you ever feel tempted, please call me and confess what you are struggling with. We can pray and also meet if you like until the temptation subsides.” Accountability is not about condemnation, but helping people find victory.

  11. Encourage scripture memorization. All of us battle with our flesh in one area or another. The best way to help someone gain victory over their problems is to teach them to hide God’s Word in their heart. Biblical counselors should find helpful Bible verses and challenge the person to memorize them.

    Psalm 119:9 – “How shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your Word. Your Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”

    1 John 2:14 – “I have written unto you, young men, because you are strong, and the Word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one.” We all fall short, but if we will hide the Word of God in our heart it will keep us from going down the slippery slope into the mire of sin and shame.

    Psalm 37:31 – “The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.”

  12. Listen and give an answer. It’s interesting that we have two ears and one mouth. Every counselor must listen to their client, but all psychological counselors seem to do is listen. They believe if the client talks long enough they will eventually figure out the solution to their problem.

    People see counselors because they need answers. They don’t come to counseling sessions to figure things out for themselves. If that were the case, they could do that on their own.

    The job of a counselor is to listen to the problem, make sure they completely understand the situation, then give them the best possible answer from the Word of God. We should spend twice the amount of time listening and a third of the time advising. We must give biblical answers and tell them what God says.

    James 1:19 – “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.”

    Proverbs 18:13 – “He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame unto him.”

  13. Encourage independence. Psychological counseling makes people dependent upon the counseling process. Good biblical counselors help people depend more on God, trust the scriptures and apply the Word to their lives. They don’t encourage people to depend upon them, but God.

As believers, let’s be careful to give people the Word of God and not the philosophies of this world’s system (Colossians 2:8).

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