The Mind of Christ
The Spirit of Counsel
Our Personal Advisor, our Helper and our Guide
We have been doing a series on being transformed by the renewing of our minds. Last month we began exploring the Spirit of Counsel from Isaiah 11:1-2: "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots [this is Jesus, of course]: and the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, [that is] the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding, the Spirit of Counsel and Might, the Spirit of Knowledge and the Fear of the Lord."
We shared that these are the seven functions or operations of the Holy Spirit, that gives us the Mind of Christ and that we each receive the moment we accept Christ into our hearts. The Spirit of Counsel is the fourth function and is an incredible gift of God. It's God's personal instructions, His directions to let us know what His Will is for our lives. How many of you need that? I certainly do, every single moment.
The Spirit of Counsel is wonderful, because He tells us what we should and what we shouldn't do. In other words, He shows us the true situation and then gives us His advice so we can make the right decisions.
As we shared last month, worldly counselors can help us locate and identify our problems, but no matter how hard they try, they cannot take the root cause of those problems away. Only God can see our hearts; only He can show us what the real root causes are; only He can align our feelings with the faith choices we make; and only He can give us the Love we need to go on as if nothing has happened. That's why, without Christ in the center of our counseling sessions, guiding, healing and literally taking away our painful memories and wounds, we often will end up worse off than when we began.
Isaiah 30:1 validates this, "Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, but not of Me; and that cover with a covering, but not of My Spirit, that they may add sin to sin."
Example: "What about me?"
Many years ago, I attended a secular meeting for parents of troubled children (drug abuse, sexual promiscuity, alcohol, etc.). During this meeting (in which there were about 300 people), I was absolutely overwhelmed with the "hopelessness" that is in the world without Christ.
Parents stood up and pathetically shared how they had spent thousands upon thousands of dollars trying every way they knew of to heal their children-care units, psychiatrists, hospitals, prison schools. You name it, they had tried it.
One dad stood up and literally cried out, "What about me?" He said his wife had just recently left him because of the ordeal and he had spent his life savings trying to cure his daughter. The part that made him angry, he said, was that he felt his daughter was worse off now than when she first began all the treatments.
Unanimously, these poor people shared how their kids were more hardened in their "own ways" (more rebellious and more willful) now, than when they had begun the various cures. Rather than see their children healed and changed as they all had so desperately hoped for, these parents had watched as their children became even more messed up than ever before.
Why? Why were these kids worse off in the end than when they began? Why would this be the case? I believe it goes back to Jeremiah 48:11. These children had not been broken of self. Their thinking had not been changed; they still had the same emotional responses as they always had and the same strong desires as before. So rather than seeing their "self-life" broken (as it needed to be for lasting change), it was simply strengthened and hardened. ( Psalm 81:12-13)
Remember, if there is no mind change, there will be no life change either. Without Jesus at the core of our being (changing us from the inside out), there is no other power source within us to produce anything different than what "we" naturally think, feel and want. Certainly, non-believers have a choice to decide what they want to do. However, none of them have the authority to go against what "self" wants, because they don't possess another power source within them to produce anything different. Having Christ (a "supernatural" power source in our hearts) gives us the authority to make non-feeling choices (to do His Will, regardless of what we think or feel) and know that He will produce those actions in our lives. Thus, our only hope for a life change is by constantly renewing our minds. By faith, we must first choose to put off the "old." God, then, not only puts on the "new" for us, but He also empowers and lives out His new Life through us. This is the "new creation" God talks about in 2 Corinthians 5:17 - our new identity in Christ.
Only God Can Be Our Healer
So, even the best "Christian" counselors and psychiatrists are still completely incapable of taking away the real "root cause" of our problems. Again, they can help reveal the problems to us, but they can't cure them-they can't take them away. Only our Lord can do that.
"For thus saith the Lord, Thy bruise is incurable, and thy wound is grievous. There is none to plead thy cause, that thou mayest be bound up; thou hast no healing medicines." (Jeremiah 30:12-13) And, Hosea 6:1, "Come and let us return unto the Lord; for He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up." I believe if more Christians could learn "how," moment-by-moment, to "renew their minds" - how to put off the garbage in their thinking and put on the Mind of Christ - we wouldn't need the massive counseling industry that we have now. I also believe more people would be genuinely and permanently healed.
We're Not Hearing This Message
A few years ago, I received a letter that seems to put all of this into perspective: "Nancy, we're not receiving this message in our churches today. I belong to a church that is getting more and more into psychology teaching, especially the 'Christians in Recovery' type, where everyone is a 'victim' of a dysfunctional family of some sort or another and we all need to get in touch with the child within. I have been slowly sucked into this teaching and am currently involved in a 12-step group and have been in counseling off and on over the past year.
"I am here to tell you that all of that succeeded in getting me more and more in touch with myself, my feelings, my hurts, my resentments and not until I heard the Be Ye Transformed message was I able to turn my heart away from self and back to God.
"I know there are many people out there who need to deal with all those things in order to be able to clean out their hidden chambers, but what actually happened to me is that when I started going through counseling I was instructed to dredge up all the things that I had already given over to the Lord in the past. Through this act I was instructed to try and feel things I had long since forgotten and forgiven. I was also asked many questions about my relationship with my husband and how I felt about this and that. I worked very hard at feeling my 'real feelings.'
"This I think was detrimental to my relationship with the Lord because for the entire year (that I was in counseling) I never gave anything over to Him; never forgave anyone; nor accepted anyone. I was just told to 'feel my feelings.' Why are we not hearing this Be Ye Transformed message today?"
Another similar letter says, "The problem with Christian therapy today is that it keeps us focused on those dysfunctional systems, our own behaviors and other's responsibilities, not on God, His Love, His Commandments, or dying to self. The result of "dying to self" teaching is that we do become functional, because it's Jesus' Spirit living through us, and we are glorifying Him and not ourselves."
And a third comment made to me recently about Christian psychology was, "I have seen so many of my close friends, as they go through therapy, become totally self-absorbed and even deeper in bondage to sin and self."
Love Self or Love God
Psychology is simply learning to love "self" (psyche is the root for psychology, meaning "our soul"); whereas the Bible teaches us to set our "self" aside and love God. "For we who live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, [why?] so that the Life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh." (2 Corinthians 4:11)
Those of you who have read The Way of Agape remember that the Greek word for the verb "to love" is agapao - to totally give ourselves over to something.
Now, we can either love ourselves and always do those things that please us; or we can learn to "totally give ourselves over to" God, and always do those things that please Him. This is a choice that will continually be ours to make.
How Do We Know God's Will?
Now, it would be wonderful if we could always hear God's audible voice counseling and directing us when we are seeking His Will, but that's not the way God works. Most of the time, we hear God's Voice when we read His Word. This is where we can be assured that it is, indeed, God's voice and not just our own thoughts. Acts 9:6 is one of my favorites, "...Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" God replies, "...It shall be told thee what thou must do."
I keep a pad and pencil in my Bible and, as I read His Word, I write down my questions to God. (I'm careful to only ask Him one question at a time so that when He does answer I know which question He's answering.) In my daily reading, then, I expect God to talk to me and He always does. Now, it might take a day, or a week or even a month to get a specific answer to a particular question that I've posed, but God is always faithful to answer in His timing.
As I read, if I find a Scripture that pertains to my question, I write it down and put a question mark beside it. When God confirms that Scripture at least two more times, then I know it's from Him and that He will give me the power I need to perform that particular thing in my life.
So, it's through God's Word that He speaks to us and counsels us. As a rule, don't trust the other "voices" you hear. Satan loves to play with our minds. If you can, always check and confirm what you are hearing with God's Word before you act upon it. I've been so deceived in the past by voices "I thought" were God. When we receive something from God's Word and He confirms it over and over again, we can be assured that it is from Him. Remember, His Word will always confirm and validate what His Spirit is personally telling you, and vice versa.
Example: "Am I to cancel her party?"
Here's a classic example of how God's Word validates what the Spirit tells us: On Michelle's twelfth birthday, we had planned a super birthday party. Everyone had already been invited, the place had already been reserved, the cake had already been ordered, and the food already bought. Michelle's behavior towards me that week, however, had been appalling. I kept telling her (after praying about it) that if her bad attitude kept up, I would have to cancel her party. Her behavior not only continued, but it even got worse. I threw myself upon the Lord and asked, "Am I really to cancel her party, Lord? Because it will be such a humiliating and public punishment." I wrote in my journal that day. "Lord, am I to cancel her birthday party?"
The next morning in my "daily devotional," I was in Amos 1. Now, how many times a year are we in Amos 1 for our daily reading? Certainly, not very often! Five times in Amos 1, it says, "Do not turn the punishment away." Coincidence, right?
Well, I canceled her party and after the "explosion," she was adorable and understood completely why I had to do it and her behavior began to improve dramatically. God's Counsel to us can be very specific, if we are asking, waiting and listening.
If You Have To Move Quickly
Waiting for God's answers is probably one of the hardest things to do, but it's also one of the most important things for us to do. If we can single-mindedly "wrap ourselves around Jesus" while we wait, then He'll give us His peace even in that waiting period.
If you have to move quickly, however, and you just don't have the liberty to "wait" for God's Counsel, I suggest this approach: First, pray and acknowledge that God is in control of your life; then, tell Him that you're not sure what His Will is in this particular situation, but you have to move (He knows it already). Tell Him what you are about to do and ask Him to block it, if it's not what He desires.
Then, walk confidently, knowing that God is great at "slamming doors." You've done your part. The ball is now in God's court and it's His responsibility to show you what His Will is. And, I promise you, He will.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths." And also, Psalms 32:8, "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye (Mind of Christ)."
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