Throughout the counseling session, the goal is to change the counselee’s focus on the false self, a self of lusts and appetites to a realization of his true self, a self in union with Christ. This is accomplished by a continuous process of judging self, one’s own sins, not others; changing focus from self needs to one of accomplishing God’s purposes for his life by loving Him and others foremost; daily dying to the old man and putting-on the new man; and of maintaining a state of forgiving and reconciling throughout life. The ultimate goal now is for the counselee to be a disciple, to help and restore others to this same position whereas they, in turn, will do likewise.
The False Self
All of life in the natural sphere conditions and inclines one to deal with life’s experiences from a horizontal perspective, that is, to react from a self-protective and self-defensive posture, to insure one’s survival in a competitive and fallen environment. This pronounced self-focus degenerates, in time, until life is characterized by guilt and shame, anger and bitterness, and fear: a life devoid of the Presence of God. Life becomes filled with the presence of self attempting to meet the needs of self by a fruitless search for the meaning of life in a world system energized by evil.
A person in this condition seeks relief by the fashions and customs of this world, by the lusts and appetites of the flesh, by justifying his own behavior, by placing the blame on others, by seeking peace and joy in things, people, and possessions. Emphasis is on what others have done or failed to do, and the remedy is to change others and the circumstances of life by whatever human (fallen) resources are available. The focus is on self, to save self and to use others, and the things of the world to find the meaning of life.
The True Self
All that was done to us, what we have done to others, the failures, the ills, the violations of our persons, the brutalities, the perversions of life, rejections, death of loved ones, tragedies, loneliness, abandonment, Jesus paid the penalty for all these sins. Provided the means to handle the tragedies of life. We do not need to deal with these violations, and the tragedies of life on our own. Christ is in us to work out our salvation daily ( Phil. 2:12-13 ; Gal. 2:20 ; 2 Cor. 5:17 ; 2 Cor. 5:21 ; Rom. 6:3-6 ; Ezek. 18:20 ).
Being in Christ, we are new creatures and we are to deal with life now from a biblical perspective. Our problem is not with Satan, not with people, not with the circumstances of life, but our problem lies in our relationship with God. Our focus is to change from a concern about self, to a concern about God’s glory and that is accomplished by our godly responses to others and to life in general ( Rom. 5:17 ; 2 Cor. 5:21 ).
Dynamics of Problem Solving
(Heb. 3:13 ) Being ignorant of sin desensitizes and causes hardening.
(Rom. 1:20-32 ) After awhile you become your own god by establishing standards to justify self-centered pursuits. People perish because of ignorance; therefore, it is a question of becoming knowledgeable, of becoming sensitive, of recognizing that living in this world cannot be taken for granted ( Hosea 4:6 ).
The Ways of Man and the Ways of God
Approximately 230 psychological schools of thought are practiced in the world dealing with the study of man’s behavior, and the varied methods and means required for man to solve personal problems. These schools are reduced to five common characteristics.
1. Man is good : Humanism – independence from God – New Age: Man has everything necessary within to solve own problems – mind merely blocked by negative thinking or influences – develop positive thinking and draw from one’s own resources – see self as worthwhile and esteemed. What does God say? Ps. 62:9 ; Rom. 3:10-18,23 ; Rom. 7:18 .
2. Man is a superior animal: Basic view of man is that his behavior is wrongly conditioned or programmed by environment and circumstances. He needs to be reconditioned or reprogrammed by manipulation of behavior through use of positive and negative stimuli… He is artificially maneuvered to respond to reward and punishment in order to improve self. What does God say? John 15:4-5 ; Rom. 1:18-32 ; James 4:10 .
3. Man can change himself: Although being wounded by circumstances of life, man can change bad behavior. This is a combination of the above positions: that through education, logic and reason, man can overcome self. What does God say? Jer. 13:23 ; Ezek. 18:20 ; Ezek. 36:26-27 .
4. Man, a victim of conscience: Man driven by instincts, thwarted by family, by society, by upbringing, and by others, who are responsible for his problems. Deep analysis necessary, along with hypnosis, re-socialization, catharsis, self-actualization, free association, etc. What does God say? Ezek. 18:20 ; Phil. 2:3-4 ; 1 Tim. 4:1-2 .
5. Man, a bargainer: When the above doesn’t work, the world uses – trade-offs. You do this, and I will do this, a 50/50 arrangement. Imbalances are inevitable, the self nature always wants more than its share. What does God say? God commands us to love without expectation of return, to return good for evil. Rom. 12:21 ; Phil. 2:3-4 .
Man’s way is always self-oriented, he is his own god, as evidenced by:
1. No biblical confrontation,
2. No conversion experience expected or even considered,
3. No repentance,
4. No work of the Holy Spirit,
5. No sanctification process in bearing the image of God.
Given impetus in modern times from the so-called Enlightenment and the Renaissance periods, this typifies and represents man’s attempt to save himself without God. Such concepts have culminated today in a society whose sinking foundations are being built on preferences (feelings) rather than principles (absolutes). Twisted human reason and logic replaces the Ten Commandments.
God’s Way of Handling Problems
( Phil. 3:13 ) God is the God of the ‘I AM’, He is not in the past, nor in the future, He is always in the present. We start from the present and each day thereafter – one day at a time.
· ( Luke 9:62 ) Looking back into the past will make you unfit for the present.
· ( Heb. 11:15 ) Thinking of the past makes one vulnerable, and weak.
· ( Rom. 8:28 ) Past events in our lives are irreversible. Why waste time and effort there.
Our reactions to those events can be changed as we allow God to intervene in the present, to reach into our experiences, to redeem us, to free us to love and worship God. Eventually we become lovers of God in our spirits instead of lovers of self by dwelling on the past.
(1 Tim. 4:7 ; Eph. 4:22-24 ) Thus, it is through discipline we become godly: by commitment to live God’s way in the present through the simple process of putting-off and putting-on – by the authority of God’s word and by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Accordingly, we change our coping mechanisms from reacting to life to responding to life on the basis of God’s word.
· Start up the spiral by tackling the immediate problem first ( James 1:2 ). Act on known solutions, postpone acting when solutions are unknown ( James 1:5-8 ; John 7:17 ; Rom. 14:23 ). Continue up the spiral ( Heb. 5:14 ).
Attitude and Behavior
Ten Keys of the Beatitudes: Attitudes, what we are ‘to be’ based on Matt. 5-7 .
( Eph. 4:22-24 ) Our spirits have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, but our minds must be renewed, and our foundation in life is to be Christ Himself. These ten foundational keys in the Sermon on the Mount are as follows:
1. ( Matt. 5:3 ) "Blessed are the poor in spirit…" Realization that there is nothing in myself whatsoever that I can draw upon or rely upon, but the full realization and acknowledgement that I need God now and forever in everything I do.
· We are poor in spiritual life. Thus we need God, all the time, a complete dependency on God.
· Learn about God, learn from God, and see God in all of life’s activities, view life from His perspective.
2. ( Matt. 5:4 ) "Blessed are those who mourn…" Realization that the crisis and difficulties I find myself in, the pains and sorrows will not last forever. They will change, comfort is on its way.
· Crisis and difficulties are never forever. Trials do not last forever because everything changes.
· There is a season for all things: rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with them who mourn. Crisis are only temporary, comfort awaits. Crisis are only opportunities to experience God’s presence and deliverance. Plan beyond the crisis ( 2 Chron. 20:7 ).
3. ( Matt. 5:5 ) "Blessed are the meek…" Realization that I must be in control of myself, that I must desire, must expect and must demand self to be disciplined, organized and structured.
· Don’t be mediocre, force self to do and go beyond the flesh. Do by your will not by your feelings.
· Don’t let circumstances control, but be in control by your will.
4. ( Matt. 5:6 ) "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…"
· Growth and knowledge doesn’t come to you, you must pursue and seek after it. Impose on yourself standards higher than others. In Christ, your potential is without limits.
6. ( Matt. 5:7 ) "Blessed are the merciful…"
· Make room for others to fail, and don’t be quick to judge them. Allow others to make mistakes. Give people space to make mistakes. We are all growing. Be patient . Mercy is the postponement of judgment. We are
inclined to judge and condemn. What you sow, you will reap ( Matt. 7:1-5 ).
· Be in a constant state of forgiving. Be quick to release others from offenses.
7. ( Matt. 5:8 ) "Blessed are the pure…"
· Develop a pure mind in everything, and you will see things from God’s perspective. Avoid the corruption and contamination of the world’s presentations upon one’s imagination by guarding what your eyes see, what you hear and what you speak. Your eyes, your ears, your tongue, and your senses are the gates of your heart ( Prov. 4:23 ).
· Look at life from God’s point of view, see that God is in everything. If the heart is pure, you will see God in all things whether negative or positive. As a man thinks, so is he. To the pure all things are pure, unto the corrupt all things are corrupt. As you see, hear, and speak that is what you will reap.
8. ( Matt. 5:9 ) "Blessed are the peacemakers…"
· Determine to be a positive influence, look for the good in others, look for the best and the better. Be the one to bring it about. Who is without sin, cast the first stone, look at life from this perspective… but for the grace of God, go I.
9. ( Matt. 5:10 ) "Blessed are those persecuted for righteousness sake…"
· Have a good attitude and enthusiasm toward life based on what you know. Nothing in life is to be feared, but to be understood. The world hates righteousness. Rejoice and be glad, so suffered those before you. Rejoice for great is your reward as you stand firm in the truth.
10. ( Matt. 5:11 ) "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you…"
· Expect the best and prepare for the worst. See that difficulties in life are normal. Get ready for persecution. They hated Jesus, and they will hate you. Expect this. Be prepared to bless and to pray for those who are against you.
11. ( Matt. 5:12 ) "You are the salt of the earth…"
· You are important for the world, for humanity, and for your generation. Know your value and your worth. We are to be the example for the world to follow. This is the spirit of Christ: that we are the elite, that we influence the best in life, that we are the standard for the world (Matt. 28:18-20 ).
In His Grace Forever,
Teddy Awad, CMHP
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