Why is the Biblical Counseling Movement Obsessed with Sin Rather than Love?
Emotionally disheveled lives flowing from the present-day biblical counseling movement is now epidemic. If you are going to condemn counselees and beat them to an emotional pulp with their own faults in order to drive them back to the cross, at least tell them that’s the goal. However, as the logic goes, if the counselee is informed about the counseling agenda, any “change” would be their own decision and not the work of the Spirit.
Supposedly, any true work of the Spirit is going to be apart from anything the counselee knows. In order to teach the counselee to live a “lifestyle of repentance, for the most part ” you must help them see their sin and the “sin beneath the sin.” You must also show them the need to “repent of good works” or the belief that they are able to do a work pleasing to God. As the counselee learns to see their total depravity more and more, the works of Jesus are “manifested” in our lives and “experienced” as if we are doing them, but we are really passive instruments in any godly endeavors. In other words, when it gets right down to it, Jesus obeys for us lest we “have a righteousness of our own.” Any true good works done in the life of the “believer” are “experienced subjectively” and flow from the “objective gospel” which are works accomplished by Christ alone.
So, one really only knows when they commit definitive sin, but good works of any kind are either the “believer’s” sinful works of self-righteousness or the works of Jesus and this is the subjective part of the salvation process. If the “believer” testifies that they cannot do a good work of any kind, they may find forgiveness as long as they are “under the authority of godly men” (ie., Reformed pastors), but if they believe they themselves can do a work pleasing to God, that is mortal sin that cannot be forgiven, viz, they believe a false gospel. This is Martin Luther’s venial/mortal sin construct that formed the Reformation gospel.
Hence, the counselee, by design, is driven to a “despair of self-righteousness” but is unaware of what they are supposed to do about the despair. If the counselee is informed of what to do about the despair; that would be “jumping directly from the command to obedience.”
The result? A mass of confused people and broken lives marked by hopelessness and despair. If the Spirit so chooses to move after the biblical counselors have done their job of stripping the counselee of any “self-righteousness,” the counselee will be shown the gospel “treasure chest of joy” apart from any misguided leading from a counselor resulting in “fruit stapling.”
What’s behind this approach to counseling that is wreaking havoc on the lives of so many? To understand the answer one must take a specific look at how the Bible defines the word “sin.”
Genesis 4:3 – In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4 and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, 5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. 6 The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”
Note that sin has a primary desire that drives it—it seeks to rule over people and control them. It’s simply what sin does. This is why world politics have always been dominated by war and conquest after sin entered the world. Further study reveals sin’s ultimate goal: to bring as much death as possible into people’s lives.
But what does sin use to control people? What empowers sin? What is its mojo? Answer: condemnation. Note that sin crouches at the door waiting for people to not do well. It waits for one to violate their conscience or God’s law and then it pounces. Sin uses condemnation to strip the individual of self-worth and confidence. This is why, for the most part, marriage counseling is dealing with two spouses who come to you with condemnation lists. This is each one’s case for why the other spouse is inept and should submit to the other’s control. This is different from love and why love does not keep a record of wrong (1Cor 13:5).
And this is why Christ endured the cross; to end the law (Rom 10:4); to end condemnation; to strip sin of its power.
1Corintians 15:56 – The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 8:1 – There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Sin remains in the born again believer because he/she still dwells in mortality, but it has been stripped of its power to condemn because Christ put an end to the law. Without a way to condemn, sin can only harass the believer with sinful desires that the believer is no longer enslaved to. Instead, the believer is now enslaved to righteousness (Rom 6:17,18). Hence, Christians fail to fulfill the law through love from time to time because they are “weak” NOT because we are “sinners.” The Bible NEVER refers to believers as “sinners.” It is markedly past tense in the Bible when speaking of the believer…“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). We are not “sinners saved by grace.” If you are still a sinner, you are not saved.
So why then the law? God created the law as a two-fold covenant. Before Christ came, all sin was imputed to the law.
Galatians 3:19 – Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. 20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.
21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave[g] nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
Don’t be mistaken, the older covenant is still in effect but passing away:
Hebrews 8:13 – In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
The present sins of unbelievers are still imputed to the law. When and if they believe in Christ, their sins will be ENDED not merely covered. Christ came to end sin, not cover it. Christ is not a covering for sin, He ended sin. Those who do not believe on Christ will be judged by the law at the final judgment. This is because they are still “under law” (Rom 6:14, 15). Believers will not be present at the final judgment or the “second death.” That judgment concerns the law.
So what does it mean to be under grace? It means that when we were born again the old us under law literally died and was resurrected to new creaturehood. We were given a new heart that loves the law and truth. We are no longer indifferent to the same law that once condemned us.
Romans 7:1 – Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? 2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. 3 Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.
4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.
How do we serve the law under the new covenant? By putting our faith to work in obeying God’s word for loving Him and others:
Galatians 5:6 – For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.
Romans 13:10 – Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
John 14:15 – If you love me, keep my commands (NIV).
The Christian is free to aggressively love God and others without any fear of condemnation. But, others aside from Christ cannot control you unless they sell you on the idea that you are still under condemnation. And as much as I hate to say it, for the most part, that’s what the institutional church is all about: a desire to control many people through condemnation. That means they must keep you under law and a justification defined by perfect law-keeping which of course requires ongoing forgiveness for “present sin” which of course can only be obtained under the “authority of godly men ordained by God.” Really? Fact is, there is a difference between condemning sin under law and a failure to love as a member of God’s literal family that can bring chastisement. The problem here is a single perspective on law and sin by functioning under the “written code” and calling it “under grace.”
And this is the purpose of the biblical counseling movement; it serves the institutional church in keeping people under law so they can be controlled. Supposedly, they have been given authority by God to grant you forgiveness under their authority because you are still a “sinner.” You are supposedly still under law. You can only obtain ongoing forgiveness by acknowledging that you are a totally depraved saint under the authority of some “man of God.”
It is the epic lie of the ages.
This is why the biblical counseling movement focuses on sin rather than love. This is why when you deny that you are a sinner they ask rhetorically: “Did you sin today?” The question should really be: “Did you love today?” But they ask the wrong question because their basis for justification is the law and not the new birth.
1John 3:9 – Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God (KJV).
And that’s supposedly ok because Jesus supposedly kept/keeps the law for us. But that is still NOT the manifestation of righteousness “APART from the law” (Rom 3:21).
Mark it well: an emphasis on sin in your life that condemns by other “Christians” is a doctrine of devils and this is nothing new.
Zechariah 3:1 – Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” 3 Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. 4 And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” 5 And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord was standing by.
6 And the angel of the Lord solemnly assured Joshua, 7 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: If you will walk in my ways and keep my charge, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here.
Revelation 12:10 – And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.
Now, many try to make a case that salvation is only a covering for sin and not an ending because of the biblical “coat” analogy. But such coats represent one’s standing, not a covering for sin that is ended. Even if such a case could be made it would only apply to the old covenant and its imputation of sin to the law.
There is only one mediator between God and man; Christ. In Matthew 28:18 we find that “all” authority has been given to Christ and “all” means just that, All, viz, everything. The body of Christ only has one head; Christ Himself. No man or woman has authority to condemn you…
…flee the biblical counseling movement and pursue love.