The Bible tells us that when we know the truth it will set us free. In fact, Jesus’ primary method for changing people during His ministry was teaching and preaching the truth. But when the Bible uses the word “to know” it suggests a knowledge obtained, “not by mere intellectual activity, but by operation of the Holy Ghost.” (Vine, An Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, 1985, p. 346) Therefore, this verse is telling us that we are changed by the truth when it reaches our spirit or becomes a revelation to us.
There are a number of levels of truth that are based on the Bible. There is the overall knowledge about God and His dealings with people throughout the ages. There are the principles learned from the life of Jesus, His teachings and the teachings and letters of His disciples. Additionally, there are the deeper spiritual meanings brought to us through a types and shadows interpretation of Bible stories and through the revelation of the Holy Spirit. In my books, Faith Therapy, Revelations That Will Set You Free, and Transformation!, I have developed Biblical counseling models for resolving many of the problems faced in the church today. Nevertheless, models currently do not and probably never will exist for every conceivable type of problem. Therefore, it is essential that we also develop a comprehensive plan for resolving problems using Biblical principles for which we do not yet have a counseling model. This method must use Biblical principles in such a way as to bring dynamic healing to the whole person: will, mind, emotions, and spirit.
A simple, direct application of the truth or the basic principles of the Bible are sufficient to heal many of the common problems faced by the average Christian. In fact, the simplistic, straightforward application of Biblical principles in counseling is what has become known as Biblical counseling. Unfortunately, many times, the methods used to apply these Biblical principles have fallen short of the in-depth needs of many emotionally and psychologically hurting people. Most of these current classical models of change have been limited to either confronting and demanding change or acting and practicing new Biblical ways of doing things. Therefore, they do not deal with the entire person: will, spirit, mind, perceptions, needs, motivation, actions, experiences, and emotions. As an example, a lady with Borderline Personality Disorder came to me after having seen a classical Biblical counselor who tried to address the surface symptoms by telling her that what she was doing was sin and that she needed to repent and change. Although the counselor was correct in what he said, she left feeling worse about herself and feeling that God had failed her because she had no idea what she was supposed to do with the deep fear of abandonment within her.
Types of Biblical Principles
Biblical principles are combinations of Biblical truths focused on a particular area of interest and designed for application in that area. In order to clearly understand how to employ specific Biblical principles, we must ask the question, “principles of what?” Biblical principles fall into several categories: 1. Those that give us information about the physical and spiritual world (worldview). 2. Those that tell us what to do or not do (the law). 3. Those that tell us how to do it (application). 4. Those that tell us how to transform our lives (change). Each particular type of principle is designed to assist us in different ways.
1. Principles Related to Worldview
. These principles, that tell us about the physical and spiritual world in which we live, help us to change our perceptions of our world and can result in a paradigm shift. They run counter to what we have learned from the world and challenge us to change how we perceive our world. This is the place of narrative therapy and the teaching of Biblical stories and parables. If we believe the metanarrative of the Bible and become saved, our life will change forever because we will perceive life through a Biblical worldview. Bible principles also have the same effect to the extent that we believe them. If, when we learn these Bible principles, we change how we perceive ourselves and our world, we will act, think, or feel according to these new perceptions.
2. Principles of the Law. Those principles, that tell us what to do and what not to do, provide boundaries for our thoughts, attitudes, and actions. These eventually affect our emotions. They are useful to help us to identify our areas of dysfunction, change our ways, and purify our lives. Sin is the symptom that tells us that we have a problem. When we break a law, we usually learn by our consequences that we need to change; but we do not necessarily understand how to change. Even if we are able to change our actions, the underlying problem may still exist and may resurface at another time or in another way. Historically, the identification of what is wrong and changing how a person acts has been the major focus of “Biblical counseling.”
3. Principles for Application. Those principles, that tell us how to do something, give us a plan of how to accomplish what we have been commanded to do in our lives. These principles give us the capability to know how to do things, but that does not necessarily make us want to do them. Without these principles, we might know that we should pray and that our prayerlessness is an indication that we have a problem, but we would not know how to pray.
4. Principles of Change. Those principles, that tell us how to change, give us a more in-depth understanding of how we function so that we can permanently make changes in our lives. Even if we know that we should do something and we know how to do it, we may not yet understand why we still do not do it, or why we are still motivated to sin.
Change is possibly the one absolute in life. Nothing stays the same for long. This is especially true concerning our circumstances and our lives. Still, there are forces, especially in humans, that resist positive change as well as forces that precipitate change in a negative direction. In fact, without intervention of any sort, nature moves in the direction of disorganization and deterioration, rather than toward wholeness. It is God who develops, improves, and creates; and it is Satan who attempts to steal, kill, and destroy. (John 10:10) But we must understand that it is not the forces outside of us, but those on the inside, that have the greatest influence on us and provide the greatest potential for change.
In the Bible, God provides the truth, the basic principles for life, and the counseling models. The truth is just a statement of how things actually are. The direct application of a specific truth many times is sufficient to effect change in simple problems of limited scope and complexity. Principles are combinations of truth. Many of the more moderate problems can be resolved through the application of these basic principles if they are applied to impact the whole person using a number of interventions or techniques. The more complex and difficult problems require a more in-depth understanding of the problem and specific guidance on how to resolve them. These require counseling models or plans that tell us how to approach and apply a specific number of principles to resolve these complex problems. As an analogy, statements of truth are the street signs, principles are the parts of the written directions; and counseling models and plans are the maps to life.
Through God’s word we are given an understanding of the world in which we live, the spirit world that we cannot see, and a glimpse into the future world which is to come. The process of change toward wholeness is brought about primarily through our knowledge of God and His process of salvation by faith. However, it is through the application of the truth, principles, and models (or plans) embodied in God’s Word that we are able to remove the roadblocks that hinder this process. However, whether we act, change our viewpoint, or transform our heart is dependent on whether we believe the truth that we have been taught. Without faith, change will not happen. It is also true that without an understanding of the Bible’s truth, the basic Biblical principles, and the more complex Biblical models, we are lost and at the mercy of the world’s system without any direction, without tools to effect change, and adrift in the sea of life. (For more on these issues see my books Faith Therapy and Revelations That Will Set You Free.)
It is critical that Christian counselors both adequately understand the basic principles of the Bible and know how to effectively apply them to help their clients. Consequently, this book has been designed to provide a fundamental understanding of many of the most important principles of the Bible and to develop a comprehensive method for applying these principles to effect lasting change in the total person. This new method is based on Proverbs Chapter 3.