In today’s church, there are hurts, there are conflicts, there are fears, there are marriages, there are those wanting to be married, there are adult children with ailing parents, there are high school students debating their future, there are children learning to obey their parents and live in a society with rules and responsibilities, there are baby Christians, there are mature Christians, there are unbelievers who think they are saved, there are unbelievers who know they don’t believe, there are senior saints with wisdom to impart, there are “Pauls” and “Timothys” and pastors and shepherds, brothers and sisters, believers struggling with unbelief, struggling with fear, needing joy, needing hope, needing help,…
If you look, before long you will see all these and more within the fabric of the church. We are all in different stages, places, and levels of help to give and levels of needs to be met. One thing is true we all need help, counsel. Every man, woman, boy and girl, every senior saint and every new-born Christian, those with obvious struggles and those who think they are doing pretty good…we all need help; we all need counsel. This is true today and it was true before the fall. Adam and Eve in the garden needed counsel, as we will see further down. We were created to need help even when God said we were made perfect before the fall, we needed counsel. Part of being made perfect was that we were made to be dependent. Not only do we need counsel, we need a specific counsel; God’s counsel. God’s counsel from the Word of God. We were dependent, created dependent, upon God. And finally, we will see from some various passages, that all believers are called to counsel; all believers are called to give help from the Word of God and if you are in Christ, you are qualified.
I. All Believers (and unbelievers) Need Counsel.
It is even easier to say that all mankind needs counsel. Needing counsel, needing help was a character trait of man even before the fall. God created us perfect before the fall, before sin,
and yet man still needed help. Genesis 1:26-31 shows us that God set out to make man (and woman) and after He did, it says, “God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’ ” In the next chapter God clarifies what man was to do (work the garden and keep it, multiply and fill the earth, rule over all that I have given you) and what man’s boundaries were (“of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat, for in the day you eat of it, you shall surely die.”)
Man needed help. He needed to have direction given to him to know what to do and he needed boundaries set for him in order to establish God’s authority, holiness, and rule in his life. You see from the beginning man needed help. Man had a purpose, but he needed God to give it to him. Man had boundaries but he needed God to set them and show them to him. Man is created; and God, who is uncreated, made him for a purpose. However, man needed God to give him that direction. Jay Adams says, “that means that from creation on, man was made to be molded by counsel (which is the directive Word of another, given from the outside).” You see, you need help, and it cannot be found in yourself. You are not the answer that you need.
When man seeks to be autonomous of God, his Creator, it is rebellion. When you read in the third chapter of Genesis, you read of man’s rebellion against his Creator, when man listens to a different counsel other than God’s counsel.
II. All Believers (and unbelievers) Need God’s Counsel.
When the serpent enters the dialogue in chapter 3, man begins to listen to another counselor. A counselor that sought to lead others in rebellion against the Creator God. One thing we need to know is any counsel, or help, that is not based in the Word or truth of God is against God. The deceptive statement, “All truth is God’s truth” needs to be cross-examined with this: “Does it square with God’s standard for truth–the Bible?” (Jay Adams). If it does not, then it is not counsel you need to follow.
But beware, most of the time, the serpents counsel is not a visible all-out attack against God. Remember, Satan is the deceiver. Psalm 1:1 demonstrates the progression of evil counsel. It is sometimes a slow process.
“Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;”
You see it is a progression. Satan is deceptive. False counsel redirects our path just off of Truth’s path and we are walking in the counsel of the wicked. It is so subtle we may not even see the difference. Yet it is still sinful.
Do you know the Word of God well enough to see the subtle attacks of Satan upon God’s truth?
Then we begin to take this new counsel to heart. We begin to stand on this new way. And this is where we make the choice to remain in this counsel. We should have removed ourselves from this path in the last step but, instead, we have chosen now to remain in this counsel, and here to take our stand.
Finally, we begin to promote this counsel to others. Now we direct others off the path of God’s counsel unto the “new” way of counsel. No longer does God’s Word lead and guide us. Now we look to psychologists, science, and the world for answers. Not only that, but we lead others to do the same.
The man who was blessed in Psalm 1 avoided this subtle path change and instead remained in the Word of God. “his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” The man who is blessed is the man who knows what is God’s counsel and what is the deceiver’s counsel.
My question for you, those who are struggling with fear, pride, marriage problems, tough decisions, lack of joy, lack of peace…is your delight in the law of the LORD? Do you seek it out day and night? Or are you being led by the lie of health, wealth, and prosperity?
You do not have the answers inside of you.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9
The One who made you, He understands it. And He calls you to seek Him, and His ways.
“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want…He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake…I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me…surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” – excerpts from Psalm 23.
Not only do believers (and unbelievers) need counsel. Not only do believers (and unbelievers) need God’s counsel. But,
III. All Believers Are Called to Counsel
If you notice, the first two parts said “believers (and unbelievers).” This last section says “believers” alone. This is because only believers are called to give this counsel. Unbelievers may quote God’s truth and benefits may come from it (Philippians 1:15-18), however, only believers are called to counsel the Word of God.
Romans 15:14 – I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.
Colossians 3:16 – Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Galatians 6:1-2, 10 – Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ…So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
The purpose of the counsel we are to give varies depending on the spiritual nature of those we are communicating with:
• Unbelievers need to hear the truth of the Word of God and the Gospel for the converting of their souls. They need to be given truth to lead them to repentance of sin and faith in God.
• Believers need to hear the truth of the Word of God and the Gospel for restoration, repentance, growth, sanctification.
And all this for the glory of God the Father. Only in God’s order would it be true that broken vessels are used to help other broken vessels. Remember, believers, you too need help and counsel even when you give that help and counsel to others. This is the benefit of the church: mutually encouraging and growing together in Christ through the work of the Word being shared among us.
Two questions for application:
- How is the Word being used in your life to give you help and counsel? And if it is not being used, how are you, today, going to seek help from the Word of God and stop seeking help from the world?…get off the subtle path of the wicked, sinners, and scoffers (Psalm 1).
- How are you using the Word of God in the lives of believers and unbelievers around you to lead them to Christ and to walk in Christ?
We all need help, God’s help.
“Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:23-25