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The Effect of Sin on Our Thinking

Under the noetic effects of sin, people really do believe that they can save themselves.

Sep 16, 2020

We need to make certain that we’re recognizing that sin has an effect on the way people think. What it presents to us is the incredible need that all people have for counseling. Because of the effect of sin on our minds we all need counseling.

A reminder though for those of you who have gone through any of the basic counseling training: We talk about the fact that we’ve all needed counsel from the very beginning. One illustration for me in my life where I learned that was with my four-year-old son. He was standing right in front of me and he gets his really awkward look on his face. Then out of nowhere, he just launches vomit right in front. And I’m sitting there looking at him thinking, “What are you doing? Don’t you know you need to go to the bathroom!? You need to do that in the toilet or outside.” But I recognized that this poor kid had no clue what to do. He didn’t know. He had this funky feeling inside that he had not felt before, he stood there in bewilderment because he had no clue what was going on. He could not make sense of his experience at that time.

And I had not had any forethought of having to give him counsel ahead of time. That was a reminder in the moment that even at the beginning of time, at creation, Adam and Eve needed counsel. They needed to understand how to operate and to relate within their given circumstance. And sin only makes that need greater. When we think about the noetic effects of sin, it’s recognizing at least if anything, that counseling is absolutely vital.

As Isaiah 55:8-9 says,

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

We recognize right off the bat that as we seek to help with destroying the effects of sin, if you will, in a person’s mind and beginning to change that is recognizing that we are calling them to deal with a God whose thoughts are incomprehensible. One of the things I love to tell people that I’m counseling or discipling, if we give them some heady things to think about and they say, “This really makes my brain hurt.” I say, “Well, you don’t want to serve a God where to have to think about Him doesn’t make your brain hurt.” If you could make total sense of Him and it was easy, then He might not be a God worthy of worship.

When we begin to study God and begin to reverse those effects and began to live out more of a righteous life, we have to recognize this can be a very painful process. We want to make certain that we’re doing that with a lot of grace. When we think about the noetic effects of sin, we’re recognizing that human thoughts are antithetical to God’s thoughts. Man’s thoughts are going against the Lord’s thoughts. That also means that God’s value system has been reversed.

As Isaiah 40 says,

“To whom then will you liken God,
or what likeness compare with him?
An idol!
Do you not know? Do you not hear?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
and spreads them like a tent to dwell in.”

What God values and what man values is completely different. He is high above, He is the creator of all things.Then it’s asked, “To whom then will you compare me?” There’s no one to compare to God. No one! No thing can be compared to Him

In Romans 3, Paul writes,

“as it is written:
‘None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.’
‘Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.’
‘The venom of asps is under their lips.’
‘Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.’
‘Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.’
‘There is no fear of God before their eyes.'”

What is the key there? If you think about a description of who these people are, in essence, what’s the key? They don’t fear God. Remember all the way back to Proverbs: What is the beginning of wisdom? Fear of God.

When we are talking to people, when we're counseling them and discipling them, we have to address and assess their fear of God. Click To Tweet

The Fear of God

When we are talking to people, when we’re counseling them and discipling them, we have to address and assess their fear of God. Do they have an awesome respect for who God is? Do they understand who He is with respect to their prayer life, with respect to their worship life?

Solomon puts it a great way in Ecclesiastes 5 when he says, “Consider your steps before walking into the house of God.” He talks about the fact that you need to be careful to be more quiet than you are noisy. Don’t be just saying things off to the Lord. The reason he gives is that God is far superior. God is far bigger. And he says it this way: God is above and you are below. It means that there is an infinite difference between God and us.

We’ll have some people that demonstrate their lack of fear in that as they go through their complaining about their life, they complain to Him as if He is just some poor person who’s behind a counter at some restaurant. They’re just letting Him have it. You might even hear people who will say, “You need, at times, to shake your fist at God! He’s big. He can take it.” We’ll here that sometimes. The problem with that is we’re not respecting the honor of God. We overemphasize being honest, but to the detriment of honor.

Are we teaching our counselees and our disciples what it means to fear God, to have an awesome respect for Him? For that is then the beginning of wisdom. As we’re dealing with and addressing the effects of sin in someone’s mind, we need to make certain that we’re addressing that issue of the fear of God. That’s one big component there.

We also have to recognize that man's view of life is naturally narcissistic, and God's view is for man to find satisfaction in pleasing Him. Click To Tweet

A Narcissistic View of Life

We also have to recognize that man’s view of life is naturally narcissistic, and God’s view is for man to find satisfaction in pleasing Him. It shouldn’t surprise anybody when we watch the news or we see any kind of people just living out in the normal world of life, that they would actually be narcissistic. That should never surprise any of us.

The greatest call of the disciple is to do what? To deny self. Oftentimes I say that I would love to go outside my house at least once without me. That would be awesome. When the Spirit of God comes in your life and changes your entire disposition, you begin to not like you as much as you once used to.

It would be great to just get up and go and leave me behind. That’s not going to happen, we’re going to have to deal with that while we’re here until the day that Christ comes or we die. Scripture also describes the natural thought process of man as vain, dark, and proud.

As Paul says in Ephesians 4:17-19, “Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.”

What this screams for us as counselors and disciplers is that we must have compassion on the people that we are ministering to. Think about what he’s saying: The “futility of their minds,” they are darkened in their understanding, they’re alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to their hardness of heart. In Ezekiel, what is it that we need? We need a removal of that heart of stone and we need to be put in its place the heart of flesh.

We need to recognize that because of the condition of man, and because of the effect of sin on our minds, that we must have compassion for the people that we are ministering to. This theology, this doctrine of understanding sin’s effect on the mind, has to drive us—by way of implication, when we understand man’s plight—it should drive us to have compassion and mercy for them. Recognize that there’s only one reason that you might think reasonably about a particular situation, and that is by the grace of God. No other reason. There’s not one of us in here that have these incredible mental abilities, that we are able to figure out all about the universe and know how to think reasonably without the grace of God. That is absolutely necessary.

Man is blind to spiritual truth. He does not welcome spiritual truth. As 1 Corinthians 2:14 says, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him. He’s not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” Now, what does that mean? Can the natural man understand basic concepts of Scripture? Yes, absolutely. But what he is saying here is they do not welcome it as it is. Paul says to the Thessalonian church, you received the Word for what it is, the Word of God (1 Thessalonians 2:13). The actual truth that has authority over your life. That word “accept” has the idea of warmly welcoming somebody into your home. It’s providing hospitality for a guest. In other words, you can know somebody’s outside your door. They’re knocking, you might even know who they are. But they can just stay out there for all you care. It is not until you warmly welcome them inside and receive them as a guest—and that’s the imagery that Paul is using. The natural person does not warmly receive God’s word.

We need to recognize too that in our counseling and in our discipleship, another component of that, by way of implication, is that you will at times be rejected. At times your counsel will indeed be rejected.

I have some folks here from Southern California. When I started out at the church there, we were starting a counseling program for the very first time. I remember a couple that had gone through the training and they got their first group of counselees. They got their first couple. It went horribly wrong—the couple rejected every single thing they had to say. So we gave them a second couple. Well, that couple followed suit and rejected everything that they had to say. I was wondering if they were ever going to counsel again. Praise God, by God’s grace, we gave them a third couple and that couple listened. Right off the bat, they learned that lesson. One of the implications of the noetic effects of sin is that people will indeed reject what it is you have to say.

Please cultivate a heart that breaks when people do. Be uncomfortable. Be broken. When we talk about that kind of compassion. Be broken and stomach that pain. Be willing to recognize that it is indeed a horrible thing, as Scripture that reminds us, there is a way that seems right to a man, but it leads only to death (Proverbs 14:12).

When we see people reject God’s Word, we are watching them willfully make a decision to walk down a path that only leads to death. That should—for anyone that loves another person—break their heart. I remember a woman coming in who had a prodigal child. She came in and this is all she wanted from me: “Please help the pain go away.” And I looked at her with as much compassion as I could and I said, “I cannot and I will not. I think it’s a wonderful thing that your heart breaks for your child. I think it’s a wonderful thing that you love your child so much that you break over the fact that your child is walking away from the Lord. I don’t want you to wish it to go away, but I certainly want to come alongside and help you embrace the Lord through the process, and know that God will walk with you in the midst of that pain.” May we indeed be broken for that.

Lack of Knowledge

In comparison to God’s absolute omniscience, can we say that man and the noetic effect of sin is stupid and devoid of knowledge? Jeremiah 10 says it. Jeremiah 10:14 (at least in the ESV) says, “Every man is stupid and without knowledge; every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols, for his images are false, and there is no breath in them.”

Man deceives himself into thinking he’s autonomous, self-reliant, and independent of God. We think about that in Jeremiah 17:9, which says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

Under the noetic effects of sin, people really do believe that they can save themselves. Click To Tweet

He believes he has the intelligence and the ability to be his own savior. Under the noetic effects of sin, people really do believe that they can save themselves. His foolish self-reliance is rooted in a fundamental love for self that is true of all people. All of man’s memories and recollections of his own deeds are self-favoring.

The implication of that is we have to hold loosely the issue of memory. The effect of sin on our life has indeed affected our memory. I mean, all I have to do is say, “glasses,” “keys,” or “remote control” and you all recognize it—remembering things is very tough. We are prone to forget.

When I first became a believer I thought to myself, “Why do we have communion? I don’t get it. Why else would we exist other than the salvation of Christ? So, why do we have to do this over and over and over and over again?” It’s one of the silly questions a new believer asks. Why? Because we’re prone to forget. We are prone to forget the very reason why we exist, and that is the blood of Christ. It would be an interesting study to look through Scripture, if you go through any type of reading plan that takes you all through Scripture you’ll notice that the word “remembrance” or “remember” or “bring to your mind,” is a common action throughout the Scriptures. Many of the books repeat principles from previous books. You’ll hear things like, “haven’t you heard it said?” “Haven’t you seen?” Much of what we need is a remembrance.

Sometimes I’ll hear people who come out from a sermon saying, “Yeah, you know, I studied that passage. I already knew that one. I’ve already heard a message on that one. I don’t need that.” I think that is such a foolish way to think, because we need the remembrance. Ecclesiastes, right? Nothing new under the sun. Why is it that we think something’s new? Because we forget. That’s exactly what Solomon says—we forget the things that have already been, so we look at now and go, “Wow! This is totally new. I’ve done something innovative, something nobody has ever done before.” Most likely it’s been done.

Remembrance is huge, and that is a big impact when it comes to the noetic effect of sin. This is one implication of even what we do as far as instruction and homework. Do we sometimes give people too much? In other words, in counseling, we can overload our counselees with different instruction. We’ve just given them okay a multitude of verses. Now, there is a time where a multitude of versus is very helpful.

I’ll tell you a little bit of a story about Dr. Mack. Dr. Wayne Mack was my very first teacher at the Masters College in the MABC program and Dr. Mack worked us absolutely to the bone. The program had just started, it was 1998. It had existed in a year-long program. This is a very first time they were starting it in the summer. It had just barely gotten its accreditation. We all just barely got our assignments before we were supposed to be in class and they were due. For the whole first week every one of us, we were in class from 8 to 5. And then everyone of us were back in our rooms doing work all the way through the night. Much of that work was because Dr. Mack was giving us 50 to 100 verses on a particular subject within Scripture.

I will tell you this: It was awesome. It was really awesome, because there’s something to be said about your mind being saturated with what all of Scripture has to say about a particular topic. In that case, that was very helpful. Now many of us—I got to finish that story or you guys are be left hanging. We went that entire week. We come on a Monday morning and we are just dead to the world. Dr. Mack has us in the morning. We all go break for lunch. We come back in the afternoon. Stuart Scott comes in. Stuart looks at all of us and he’s thinking, “Wow, what’s going on with you guys?” He says, “Guys, what’s going on now?” There are only 12 of us.

Then all of a sudden the floodgates open. One guy says, “I’ve been up since 3 a.m.” “I’ve been going to bed at 1 a.m.” One person says, “I haven’t slept all week.” He said, “What are you guys doing here?” We tell him what we we’ve been doing. He comes back after break that afternoon. He says, “Guys, I want to tell you do all the work you can do until 10 o’clock at night.” Stuart Scott became our Messiah. Wow, that made a huge difference. That’s the story. The only thing I wanted you to know from it is that sometimes there is a validity in a time when giving a lot of Scripture at one time can be very very powerful. But it has to be purposeful and it needs to be for a very specific reason and typically it should be for one very important topic.

On the other hand though, it is very important as we’re working through with people, give them a little bit at a time that you can just massage into their hearts and massage into their mind and get them to that point, where they not only can think about what it means, but they can then know and meditate it on enough to know how to apply it to their lives and they can meditate it on enough that they can teach it to other people. That you’ve let a passage of Scripture—or certain portions of Scripture—so stew in their lives that they can come back and teach you, so that you know that they understand what it means.

That is vital because of our understanding of the noetic effects of sin. We know that people are prone to forget. We also know that people are prone to misinterpret what we say. How many times have you had a conversation with someone and then they go and do something or they come back and say something, and you think, “Where in the world did you get that?” And they say, “Well, that’s what you told me.” … I don’t remember saying that at all. There was a complete misinterpretation of what you said. That is part of the noetic effect of sin.

That means by implication, we want to make certain that when we’re counseling and giving instruction that people thoroughly understand what we’ve said as we’ve intended them to understand what we’ve said. Let’s not miss that component. We teach that component when we talk to married couples about communication or we talk about communication in relationship. Communication isn’t the fact that you just said something. It’s that you said it and the people understand it as you meant it to be taken. We need to make certain we’re applying that in our counseling as well. These are just implications of the noetic effects of sin.

If those things are true in people’s lives, then we want to make certain that our counseling methodology, and the things that we’re doing, are helping in counteracting that.


We’ve already talked about some of the implications of the noetic effects of sin, but let’s talk a little bit about that. When we talk about the implications of the noetic effects of sin and the care of people, remember that the main function in life becomes seeking happiness and pleasure. A lot of the people that come to us, this is often often what the motive is. Not always, but often.

We want to make certain that even when people come to us and want to change a particular thing in their life, we want to make sure they're motivated correctly. Click To Tweet

We want to make certain that even when people come to us and want to change a particular thing in their life, we want to make sure they’re motivated correctly. When it comes to addressing problems, people try to get their own desire satisfied. They don’t have a concern for others as much as for themselves. We saw that. They use human logic to solve the deep issues of life and then ultimately frustration awaits because they have the right solution with the wrong method or motive. These things are very important by way of implication of the noetic effects of sin.

A Proper View of Sin

When it comes to biblical principles, oftentimes because of the effect of sin on our minds, they are going to consider them to be foolish. Think about think about a person who’s been thoroughly offended. Then you mention something along the lines of, “Well, you might actually have to forgive them.” Right off that can be met with a, “What?! I mean, are you serious? Are you kidding? Do you know what they did?” That’s the effect of sin in our lives as well—as we magnify what’s been done to us and we minimize what we do to other people.

My kids are a great example of this. I use them often for giving you examples of sin. When one of my children comes in, they’ll come in because one of their siblings has done something to hurt them. When they come in, they are animated. She tells us everything that happened—”He spit on me! He kicked me, and then she took my bike!” The hands are waving, she’s animated. She’s proclaiming. She’s dramatic. This goes on for twenty minutes. Then we always ask—because I’m a good biblical counselor and I learned from Proverbs 18 that the first person to plead their case always seems right until somebody examines him—so I ask this simple question, “What did you do?”

All of a sudden, there’s an amazing transformation. That child is no longer dramatic. As a matter of fact at one point, the stance was open, the body was moving. Now all of a sudden man, it just comes right in. Everything comes in and they become very Buddha. They’re serene and they’re calm and the question is, “So what did you do?”

“I took her Twinkie.”

“Is that all you did?”

“I may have smushed in her face…”

That’s it. That is all they want to say about it. That’s the effect of sin in our mind. We think that what somebody has done to us is huge, it’s monumental. We think that what I’ve done to somebody else is nothing. They should have just gotten over it.

That’s why we get Matthew 7. Let’s take the log out of our own eye and to see clearly the speck in your brother’s eye. That’s the effect. So part of our counseling, especially when it comes to conflict issues where people have been sinned against, we have to help them see and look at things differently, because that’s the normal, natural effect. What that means is when people are telling us a story about being offended, you’re already suspicious about what they’re saying. Now, we want to believe what they’re saying at face value, but you’re recognizing that whatever type of spin they’re putting on it, we know that they’re more prone to give it a favorable spin toward themself. We need to be aware of that.

That does not mean that when somebody talks to us about something we just immediately go, “I know it wasn’t as good as you just said it was.” We’re not doing that. It’s just that we’re aware of the noetic effects of sin. We’re also aware in our own lives about how it can blind us to seeing ourselves more favorable than we should. That’s a reality and we have to address that. When we think about coming to that, we also need to understand they’re going to consider the things that we say as foolish.

When I tell my child, “Well, you need to go and confess what you did to them as sin.” Even though that child did something to them, they’re always using the logic that because somebody else did it first, I’m justified in doing something back. We are prone that way. I hear that logic all the time in my house. I see one of my children smack another child. “What in the world? What are you doing?” They respond, “Well, they took my candy.” And that’s it. They’re waiting, they’re expecting me to go, “Okay. Yeah, I understand.”

That’s again the effect of sin in our logic. What I’ve done to counter that is I share with them the beginning. I say, “In the beginning, God created man and woman. God gave them a very specific command. What happened? Well, they disobeyed. The man blamed the woman and the woman blamed the devil. And so God completely disciplined the devil, right? And that was it man and woman got off scot-free, right?” No! Okay, so this doesn’t work. Everybody is in trouble. You’re in trouble for what you did, and you’re in trouble for you did. That is part of what we have to do when we’re counseling people initially. They’re going to look at that and say it’s foolish.

The objection will be, “Why should I have to go and ask for forgiveness of that person when they did what they did?” Because you did what you did and you have to take responsibility for that. That’s an implication of the noetic effect of sin. We’re going to have to get in the middle of situations like that. One of the hardest times as a pastor, as a counselor, is when you have a situation where you have a definite victim and a definite criminal, if you will. Someone who has done a horrible thing to another person. And I have to sit there and I have to tell them that I do not have the luxury of taking sides. I’m not a defense attorney, nor prosecuting attorney. I’m not on one side or the other. What that means is I have to pastor you as a victim, and I have to help you through God’s Word understand your situation and understand how God wants you to glorify Him in your response to that situation.

You who have caused the harm. You are the one who violated this person. I have to counsel you using God’s Word to help you make sense of what your situation requires. The one thing that we have to balance is that tendency to be legalistic or mean-spirited toward the one who did the crime—where we demand so much of them and there’s hardly any grace. You just have to work, work, work, and pay for your punishment.

But then on the other hand, we have the victim and what we’re tempted to do there is to be liberal. And to sometimes just let them get away with a lot of sinful thinking, sinful thought, and sinful behavior.

Neither are good. Those are some of the toughest situations where we have to balance that truth and grace with the effects of sin on both parties

As we think about people coming in, they attempt to drag God into the courtroom of their judgment and then they are tempted to reject or replace Him by their standards. They accept parts of revelation that are compatible with their view of life. They attempt to dismiss biblical principles with the attitude, saying, “It’s all a matter of interpretation.”

As biblical counselors, we have to be sensitive to the noetic effects of sin. That means that knowing the truth is not a neutral intellectual matter. Click To Tweet

As biblical counselors, we have to be sensitive to the noetic effects of sin. That means that knowing the truth is not a neutral intellectual matter. People do not come to us with neutral blank slates. That means we have to address the heart of worship, for that dictates their reason. In Ezekiel 14:1-11, we recognize in that passage that what one does, what one thinks, is directly to what one worships. That’s how we can make sense of the fact that the nation of Israel could get to the point in Ezekiel 23, when they’re being judged because they’re taking their children and they’re sacrificing their children on the altar of an idol. How does the nation called out by God, called the children of God, been called and told that children are a gift from God—go from that, to then sacrificing their children on an altar to an idol? What happened was worship shifted.

Addressing Worship

When addressing the noetic effects of sin, we have to also address: What are they worshipping? We want to make certain that we’re addressing that as well because that dictates their reason. Also, counselees’ understanding is often selective. Sometimes they hear what they want to hear, but they didn’t hear what you said. Away to keep them accountable is use homework. Use homework to recite what you have taught them. Use homework assignments where they just simply have to regurgitate what you just spent time teaching them.

You taught them something within that session, then what you might give as a homework assignment is you might simply say this, “I want you to take what we’ve learned today. You’ve taken some notes while we’re here and I want you to take that. I want you to come back with two specific ways you could apply what we’ve taught today to your life. And then secondly, I want you to come back next week and I want you to prepare a lesson as if it was for a fifth grader of what I said. I want you to teach me that.” That is a useful way of accountability. It’s a useful way to get back from them to make certain that they have listened to you and they’ve heard what you have communicated to them from God’s Word.

While meeting with them, ask them to repeat again what they heard you say even in the time that you’re there. “Now, can you help me understand, what did you hear me say right now?” Because you’ve all been in situations where you’re counseling a couple and one person says this and you ask the other person,

“Okay. So what did your husband say?”

“Well, he said he didn’t like figs.”

“I never heard him mention figs. Okay, can you help me understand how you got that?”

And you’ve been in those situations where you think, “I don’t understand what’s going on. I think this person is speaking English and I think I know what they say. That person.. I’m not sure where they got that from.” If they’re doing that with each other, you can only imagine what they’re doing with you. So providing some accountability like that, slowing down a little bit to just simply take the time to make certain they understand. That goes a lot longer than say using five different lessons. Getting them to make certain they understand one or two lessons goes a lot further than five lessons that they may or may not understand. Because of the noetic effects of sin, in some cases we just need to slow down a little bit and sometimes do less with them.

Part of that is helped if you have a good community within your church. We’re blessed here in that we’re doing a lot of hard work to make certain that we have discipleship and counseling that’s taking place in ministries that are more long-term. It’s happening among people that are living life with one another. When you have that, then in the counseling session, you don’t have to feel like you have to get everything into them. It’s kind of like the parent whose child just turned 17 and they know they got one more year with them and they go, “Whoa, there’s so much I haven’t covered!” Now, all of a sudden the last year there with them—it’s a cram session. They’ve got them in school 80 hours a week. It’s a school of you trying to regurgitate everything in one year. But if you remember you’re a parent for life, then you recognize, “Okay, I don’t have to get everything in right now. So let’s enjoy it.”

Counselors call counselees also to obedience. We call counselees to submit to the thinking according to God’s Word. God’s Word does have authority over their life on how they think.

Lastly—and this is huge—is that counselors must recognize their limitations and depend wholly on the power and will of God to regenerate a person's mind. Click To Tweet

Recognize Your Limitations

Lastly—and this is huge—is that counselors must recognize their limitations and depend wholly on the power and will of God to regenerate a person’s mind. That means pray without ceasing and use God’s Word consistently. No matter your abundance of experience and training, or lack of, you have to depend exclusively on the power of God. Only God can regenerate a person’s heart and regenerate a person’s mind. As you think about an often quoted passage when it comes to biblical counseling is Colossians 1:28-29, “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.”

If you’re new—do not fret. Do not lose confidence to open up the Bible and share what you know with another person. If you’ve done this for a long time, and you have a lot of experience and you have a lot of training, whatever you do, do not depend on it in your counseling.

Whatever you do—whether you’re new or experienced—always depend on God. May He always be your source of comfort, your source of strength, and your source of wisdom. Recognize Ephesians 3:20, “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.” For that counselee, that disciple that you’re working with, that is just not getting it. Continue to pray and continue to use God’s Word. Whatever you do, don’t think there’s a silver bullet or a magic pill or “they just need to go see him,” right?

If you think, “I just can’t do it.” You’re right. You can’t and neither can he. It will always be the dependence on the work of God in our lives.

We teach our counselees also about the armor of God, recognizing that there is a constant battle for the way they think. The noetic effects of sin is a continuing thing that we have to address and deal with. It’s always with us. What I so appreciate about Paul—and the way that he shows his pastoral care and his pastoral wisdom—is that he ends the book of Ephesians with this wonderful segment on putting on the armor of God so that we might stand firm. He gives us great theology about who we are in Christ in chapters 1, 2, and 3, and then he talks about the way we should live because of who we are, but he recognizes that that way of living always comes with resistance. There will always be the temptation to think wrong in light of resistance. He admonishes us, as a wonderful pastor, to put on the armor of God and to stand firm. You have to know that you have to teach, because of the noetic effects of sin, we have to teach our counselors and disciples how to stand firm. Walking through the armor of God is a very good exercise to with those that we’re counseling and discipling.