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A Biblical Framework for Wholistic Counseling

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Truth and Liberty Blog | February 15, 2019

Humans have three aspects to their being – spirit, soul and body. Note that this is the correct order (not body, soul and spirit):

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 5:23

Spirit - The spirit is the part of a person that is meant to connect to God.

Soul – Mind, will & emotions (or in psychological terms the psyche, volition and affect). Humans have the ability to think, feel emotions and choose.

The heart – in the immaterial sense, not the physical organ although there seems to be a connection – is the place where the mind, will and emotions all converge. This is the seat of personality. Scripture implies that the human soul interfaces with the blood (although we’re not exactly sure how that I’m aware of) and the heart is where the soul mediates between the body and spirit.

Body - Flesh, bone, organs, brain and blood plus the five senses – sight, hearing, touch, taste & smell.

Note the brain is part of they physical body while the mind is part of the soul. It’s not a perfect analogy but think of the brain as hardware (physical) and the mind as the software (spiritual). It is also worth mentioning that the heart and the gut are in a very real way extensions of the brain.

A wholistic approach to counseling / discipleship should incorporate the spirit, soul and body. Psychology can be helpful, although there is a lot of bunk and quackery out there, but it primarily deals with the mind – not the body or the spirit.

Deliverance ministries deal with the spiritual realm but don’t deal with the wrong learned thought and behavior patterns that develop in one’s life – these patterns will in many cases still be in place once the demons are gone. To overcome these patterns re-programming in the mind must take place.

And while we are not to make an idol out of the body, nutrition, diet and exercise will help our bodies function in an optimal way and contribute to the health of our overall being.

The first step in creating real essential change in our being is for our spirit to get connected to the Spirit of God. Because of the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden we are all born separated from God. The true meaning of death is separation thus spiritual death is separation from God.

We are all born spiritually dead:

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins… Ephesians 2:1

In this life this situation can be remedied but the second death is eternal separation from God in the Lake of Fire – and this is irrevocable. Physical death simply means that our spirit and soul has been separated from our bodies. (This is temporary pending the resurrection.)

Unless we have been born again by the Spirit of God we are spiritually dead and separated from God. The moment we repent unto salvation we are born again and God sends us the Holy Spirit to connect with our spirit, making it alive:

But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 1 Corinthians 6:17

This is the basis for any essential change to occur in our lives.

Up until the moment this transformation takes place our spirits were separated from God. The unregenerate condition we lived in had a profound impact upon on our heart and soul (the mind, will and emotions).

Our heart was hardened. Our mind was darkened. After they sinned, for example, Adam and Eve tried to hide from the all-knowing omnipresent God. Their veiled minds attempted to do that which is impossible. Adam’s emotions were impacted as well – he became afraid and ashamed. And we observe that his will became fallen as well – Adam failed to meet God in the cool of the day. What Adam wanted to do (hide) did not align with what he ought to do (have fellowship with His creator).

Functioning independently from God in a fallen state and a fallen world, man learns to operate on his own. Over time as man ‘does his own thing’ wrong thought and behavior patterns form. These wrong patterns are what the Bible calls living ‘according to the flesh’. For those who desire to be Godly, this never works out.

Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:8

In fact the flesh and God’s Spirit are in opposition:

For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. Galatians 5:17

Reprogramming our minds according to the revealed Truth of God’s Word is necessary if sanctification and Christian discipleship is to occur.

Some of these wrong thought and behavior patterns may go away easily and without a fight upon conversion. But other thought and behavior patterns may be more deeply rooted and will not go away even though the believer sincerely seeks to change. The Child of God may memorize and recite Scripture, fast, pray, engage in deliverance prayers, attend recovery groups, etc., but the sinful behavior remains.

In such cases the believer has encountered a stronghold. The believer may have correct theology in their mind but that theology has not made the journey to the heart. The person may say they believe what the Bible teaches but they show they do not by what they actually do. Instead, a lie of the enemy has taken root and grown in the soil of the heart.

A person may not always practice what they preach but you can be sure that they will practice what they truly believe.

A stronghold may have taken root as a defense mechanism following a traumatic even in a person’s childhood or there may be another cause.

Many Christians have been taught that a Child of God cannot be demonized. This is simply not the case. It is true that Satan cannot completely dominate a Christian but demons can influence and inhabit a Christian. Think of a demon as a metaphysical virus that overwrites the software of the mind.

Such foul spirits can be extricated through the authority of Jesus Christ so making a big issue out of exorcism can become a distraction. The real issue resides in the battle over the mind and will of the believer involved. Are they going to believe God or are they going to believe a lie?

So many Christians have been deeply wounded. They struggle with rejection, insecurity and insignificance. They question whether God could really ever love them. So much of what is taught in today’s Church relates to right and wrong behavior. This isn’t bad but it is incomplete. Many Christians do not understand their true identity in Christ. Dr. Neil Anderson’s Bondage Breaker and Victory Over Darkness are two must-read volumes that I believe every believer should read – especially those dealing with habitual sin and strongholds.

Once a believer understands who they are in Christ – accepted, secure, significant, etc. – they can begin to uproot the lies the enemy has diligently sowed to keep him or her stuck and ineffective. Dr. Anderson’s Steps to Freedom In Christ show the believer how to deal with and renounce past sin and how to take back ground the enemy has stolen in their life. One can go through these steps in a couple of hours and be free and clean.

The deeply wounded soul may need to find a trusted Spirit-filled Counselor to take him or her through the messy and painful process of looking at one’s heart to identify and pluck out deeply entrenched lies of the enemy. These lies need to be replaced by the seeds of the Truth of the Word of God. A small group that is truly safe where the people are willing to be open and vulnerable may also be necessary. Deeper Walk International does offer such counseling and small groups.

I recently heard it said that radical freedom is when what you want to do and what you ought to do are the same thing. Imagine being completely free to be all Christ created you to be. The lost would be saved, the Bride of Christ would be purified and God would be glorified, honored and praised in all the earth.

Freedom is possible, we just need to learn how to appropriate it.

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    • Man

      So you have people with serous mental issues and the only thing you can say is: You need God in your life?

      Do you think that Chrstians can’t have mental issues or something?

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