Occasionally, I hear as the pragmatic objection to my position that counseling must be biblical, and only biblical, “but so and so went to a non-Christian counselor who certainly didn’t do biblical counseling, and yet it helped.” How does one properly respond to that protest? Well, by saying that there is help and then there is help.

What I mean by that is that not all help is of the same order, and, in the final analysis, what now may appear to be help—and may actually provide help of a sort—in the long run may turn out to have been more detrimental than good. Smoking will keep one’s weight level down—at a terrible cost: cancer. Was it a help or not? Smoking helped keep the weight in check, it is true, but in the long run it did not help—it caused greater and more serious problems. The help it gave was a trade-off. It did not help to enhance the smoker’s general welfare. The help carried with it a price that was too high and not necessary for him to pay. Similarly, every instance of ‘help’ afforded by the acceptance and performance of non-Christian principles and practices, in the long run, if not sooner, will reap side effects inimical to Christian living and welfare.

The words ‘side effects’ point immediately to the supposed help of drugs. Insulin, and drugs like it that are used to supplement bodily output when it is failing to do its job, do help. But, any drug that is used, instead of the biblical solution, to mask a problem or eliminate the pains of a person’s guilty conscience in the long run will be found to exact more than double the price he expected to pay:

  1. The user probably will become dependent on, if not addicted to, the drug.
  2. Over a period of time, the drug will more than likely cause physical injury to the body.
  3. The drug may cause troublesome symptoms.
  4. The problem will not vanish, but will grow.
  5. The person using the drug for such a purpose will not grow stronger for having confronted and solved the problem biblically, but will, in fact, turn out weaker for having avoided doing so.
  6. God’s solution to the problem will have been ignored and God’s blessing withheld.

Has the drug used helped?

All sorts of non-Christian counsel may be given (“Take your anger out on the golf ball”; not learn God’s way to control and use anger) that may provide immediate ‘help’ (or, perhaps, in such situations, the word ‘relief’ might better suit the case), but, again, because it isn’t God’s way to deal with the problem the final results in terms of one’s relationship to God, in terms of his personal growth and in terms of what the unbiblical counsel, at length, does to his human relationships, are not worth the price.

So, the answer to the question is “Yes,” a help of sorts may be given, but since non-Christian help is not God’s help but rather a substitute for it, in the long run (if not sooner) that ‘help’ always will prove to be a detriment.

In contrast, God’s help benefits, and does nothing but benefit. Every time a Christian properly avails himself of God’s help, not only does he find the help that he seeks, but along with it come side effects that he had not anticipated. This time, however, the side effects are good. Following biblical counsel about anger, for instance, in time will change one’s disposition so that he will become a more likable person and easier to live with.

Now what will you say to the next objector? Won’t you tell him, “There is a help that hurts, that destroys and ruins, and there is a help that truly helps—God’s help?” Won’t you say, “My help is from the Lord” and tell him that God is a “very present help” in “time of trouble?” You can have the former—I’ll take the latter every time; thank you very much.

Leave A Comment


Resources for you.

Study with Dr. Jay Adams. Learn at your convenience. We are an ACBC Certified Training Center.

Visit the INS bookstore for books by Dr. Jay Adams and all your biblical counseling resource needs.

The INS podcast with Dr. Jay Adams features a new (classic) message every Monday and Thursday.

Join Our Newsletter.

We are regularly sending out ministry news so that you can keep updated with the Institute for Nouthetic Studies.