God’s Perspective on Man’s Problems:
I. God’s perspective on life’s problems and mankind’s opposing view:
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” Prov 14:12
A. Man’s Theory: “Man is a Victim”
“This approach sees man’s fundamental problem as ignorance of himself and his psychic injuries, rather than deliberate disobedience to and ignorance of the living and true God. Man’s primary need becomes esteeming himself more highly rather than dying to self and living for God. Its methodology of “man as victim,” rather than “man as sinner” challenges the biblical doctrines of man’s absolute culpability before the cross, the supremacy of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s sanctification, and most importantly the sufficiency and authority of Scripture for the believer.” [Jim Owen: “Christian Psychology’s War on God’s Word.”]
1. Man is basically good.
Illustration: “Friendship is not about guilt. You were created a warm, caring, outgoing person. Everyone is. But you picked up something else: how not to relate. But there’s good news: whatever has been learned can be unlearned. [An advertizement in a Christian magazine]
2. Man must discover and affirm his worth.
Illustration: “Bush’s need to move in the Mid East came about because Saddam Hussein. Saddam has a particularly despicable personality, accompanied by a lack of self-esteem. [Notice how rarely he appears on public television, but an announcer with a similar appearance read his speeches.” [Bill Thomas, “US Influence Emerging from Persian Gulf War;” Bakersfield Californian, March 3, 1991, p.9]
3. Man’s problems stem from the fact that he is a victim of his environment.
Illustration: “Before we’ll see how sinful we are as a self protective agent, we must feel how disappointed we are as a vulnerable victim.” [Larry Crabb, “Inside Out”]
4. Man’s goal is personal pleasure and complete happiness.
Illustration: “The goal of recovery from co-dependency and of Christianity are the same: healthy human behavior that works.” [Jim and Phyllis Alsurf, “The ‘Generic Disease’”]
5. Man has the power within to solve his own problems.
Illustration: “I own me, and therefore I can engineer me. I am me, and I am okay.” [Virginia Satir, “My Declaration of Self-Esteem.”]
6. Man’s “deep” problems are solved through professional therapy.
Illustration: “What may start as a simple decision can be difficult to undo. It may take a lot of work. It may take people helping us in complicated and professional ways to undo the power of sin in our lives.” [Richard Mouw, Quoted in Christianity Today, December 9, 1998]
B. God’s Truth. Man the Sinner
1. Man is full of sin and hopeless without God.
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Jer 17:9
All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” Rom 3:12
“All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.” Eph 2:3
2. Man must admit and confess his sinfulness and believe in Christ.
“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-of whom I am the worst. 1 Tim 1:15
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” Acts 3:19
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” John 3:16-19
3. Man’s problems stem from the fact that he is a sinner that sins.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom 6:23
“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Gal 6:7-9
4. Man’s ultimate and most satisfying goal is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
1 Cor 10:31
“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ” Phil 3:7-9
5. Man is helpless to save himself and needs a Savior.
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Eph 2:4-10
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5
6. Man’s problems are solved as by his confession and repentance and Christ’s forgiveness and cleansing.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32
II. God’s perspective on victimization:
Illustration: “Recently I heard a sermon entitled, “Why People reject Jesus,” That Pastor evidently did not know much about the relationship between abusive fathers and their effects on children because one important reason did not appear on his list; some fathers give such a negative view of God that children resist any approach to receive Jesus.” [Sarah Hines Martin, Healing for Adult Children of Alcoholics]
Illustration: “We now change the words and definitions to fit the therapeutic and the pathological: Sin is now disease; idolatry is addiction [not lust which implies responsibility, but sexual addiction, which implies helplessness]; it is not a lie, it is denial; we need self actualization instead of sanctification; reprogramming instead of “renewing the mind”. Instead of guilty of self glorification we are sick and co-dependent.”
1. Man’s methodology We must remember the past and feel the pain to be healed:
“The point is that its possible to have sin cancelled and for it to still have power over you. People can accept Christ, be on their way to heaven, and yet there’s hurt and sin in the past that has power over them. It’s got to be broken, and if it’s not broken they cannot live faithfully.” [David Seamans, As quoted in Christianity Today; “Oh for a thousand tongues to sing” we need a therapist”]
2. God’s methodology: We must forget about the things of the past and pursue the Savior and his righteousness today. [Phil 3:13-14; Gal 2:20-22; Romans 8:28-39
“Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Phil 3:13-14
“So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Cor 5:16-18
III. God’s perspective on the “Self” and mankind’s need of self-esteem:
1. Man’s Theory:
Illustration: “First, a person’s opinion of himself, that is, his level of self esteem or self worth or self love- determines how well that person will function and what kind of contribution he or she will make in life. Second, low self esteem, then, is the cause of most behavior problems. Third, almost all people suffer from low self esteem.” So, it is reasoned:
a. Man must learn how to love himself.
b. The Bible commands us to love our selves.
c. We are made in the image of God so we should love our selves.
d. Christ’s death on the cross proves how valuable we are.
e. We can’t love others until we love ourselves.
Illustration: “College students who were invited to go on a mission trip and responded: They couldn’t go because they didn’t love themselves like they should. And how can you love others if you don’t love yourself?”
2. God’s Truth:
Illustration: William Carey’s Tombstone:
Born August 17th, 1761
Died June 1834
“A wretched, poor and helpless worm,
On Thy kind arms I fall.”
a. We already know how to love our selves.
Jesus replied: “`Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: `Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matt 22:37-40
b. Christ calls us to deny our selves and follow Him.
“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” Luke 9:23-25
“There was a day I died, utterly died; died to George Mueller, his opinions, preferences, tastes and will-died to the world, its approval or censure- died tot eh approval or blame even of my brethren and friends- since then I have studied only to show my self approved unto God.” George Mueller, [Quoted in Roger Steer’s, Seeking First the Kingdom]
c. All that we are and have is given to us that God may be praised.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will- to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” Eph 1:3-6
d. The focus of life is upon God’s love not our value.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Rom 5:6-8
e. God has poured all of the love we need into us by the Holy Spirit.
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Rom 5:1-5
f. We only need to obey and love like Jesus did.
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” 1 John 3:16
g. His love frees us to live for others.
“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” 2 Cor 5:14-15
h. We have been given everything we need to live a life of godliness.
“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” 2 Peter 1:3-4
I take, O cross, thy shadow
For my abiding place
I ask no other sunshine than
The sunshine of thy face;
Content to let the world go by,
To know no gain or loss,
My sinful self my only shame,
My glory all the cross.
[Beneath the Cross of Jesus]
i. True and last joy is found in knowing and loving God and finding our complete satisfaction in the beauty of Jesus Christ.
“I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.” Ps 63:2-5
Illustration: “How sweet all at once it was for me to be rid of those fruitless joys which I had once feared to lose…! You drove them from me, you who are the true sovereign joy. You drove them from me and took their place, you who are sweeter than all pleasure, though not to flesh and blood, you who outshine all light, yet are hidden deeper than any secret in our hearts, you who surpass all honor, though not in the eyes of men who see all honor in themselves….O Lord my God, my Light, my Wealth, and my salvation.” Augustine.
IV. The Six Pillars of Modern Counseling
1] Environmental Determinism: Human mental and emotional difficulties are the result of improper external environmental influences.
2] Psychic Determinism: There exists in each person a “dynamic unconsciousness” that determines and controls every thought and action.
3] Insight: Discovery of the content of the “unconscious” is necessary for us to release the “repressed” content to find “catharsis” and maturity.
4] The Therapist: An expert is need to help the patient recover and understand the content of the unconscious so that the cause can be identified and a solution proposed.
5] Self-Sufficiency: Man can solve his problems himself without the help of God or any other supernatural source.
6] Pleasure Principle: The goal of life is avoid suffering and to experience pleasure at all costs.
V. Six Steps to God given wholeness:
A Trust Jesus Christ to be the Lord of your life.
Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
B. Daily commit yourself to obeying and following His will.
C. Pray continually that God will use you for His glory.
D. Judge your thoughts, words and acts by the teaching of God’s Word.
E. Receive suffering as God’s way of pouring His grace into your life.
“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Cor 12:7-10
F. In suffering, seek to find God’s comfort and directions in the powerful truth that Jesus Speaks in his written Word.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-29
F. Make it your passion to spread the joy of Christ to people where ever you go.
G. Humble yourself that God may lift you up.
The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: `God, I thank you that I am not like other men-robbers, evildoers, adulterers-or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, `God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:11-14
H. Find your joy and delight in the pursuit of the infinite riches that are hidden in Jesus Christ our Lord.
“My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Col 2:2-3
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By Dr. Gary Rieben. © Give Me That Book. Email: Grieben@aol.com. Website: www.GiveMeThatBook.org. Postal: GMTB | P.O. Box 1045| La Quinta, CA 92247 USA | 619.829.2390
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