“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” – 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
As we continue to take a look at how to help people with the sin that they struggle with, I want to take some time to give a few concrete examples of how dealing with sin in the life of a believer really offers the hope of true and lasting change. We have spent the last few posts unpacking what hope is both from the world’s perspective and God’s. What we have seen is that true hope is only found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. In this post I want to give some practical ways that hope can be offered to people and show that when you choose to deal with problems Biblically, you actually help people change and become more like Jesus Christ. No matter the sin that has been committed, there can always be hope for change into the image of Christ.
(I) The Hope of Calling “Sin” – “Sin”: Before we look at an example we must remember that because Biblical Counseling deals with sin in the right way it provides the hope that we speak of. Hope is only present when sin is dealt with. This means that we go through out problems instead of avoiding them, ignoring them, or turning away from them. This is the point: When someone comes to you with a problem in their life that is rooted in sin, the first response by the Christian counselor is never one of despair, it is one of joy and hope. Why? Because Christians know that sin, although it is tragic, and although its consequences are far reaching and often very destructive, it can be dealt with. If one’s problem is basically the result of sin, this should give us hope! We know that that sin and its effects can be dealt with according to the Scriptures! Christ died for us to break the power of sin. It is no longer our master (Rom. 6:14; 22-23). Therefore, when sin is mentioned in the Christian counseling context, there should be cause for great hope!
(II) How there is Hope when Sin is dealt with: To give a practical example of what the Scriptures mean when they speak of dealing with sin in a Biblical way and offering hope through the Word of God I want to portray an example. I am going to choose the sin of drunkenness* and show, that by the power of the Holy Spirit and the authority of the Word of God, a man who is a drunkard can have hope to change when he address his drunkenness as sin and deals with his problem instead of trying to avoid it, go around it, or deflect off of it. What I want to show is that you can deal with sin and have great hope when you go straight through your problems and follow the commands of the Word of God.
(III) A Case Study in Hope to overcome sin: To call sin a disease, to avoid it, to deflect from it, or to turn away from it removes the hope of coming to a pace of change. In Biblical Counseling, the proper answer to sin in one’s life is to call it sin and realize that you are enslaved to it. Someone who has the sin of drunkenness is enslaved to strong drink. By saying that person is enslaved, actually provides Biblical hope. Why? Because slaves can be set free (Rom. 7:24-25)! True hope is only found in lasting change and lasting change is found by the power of the Holy Spirit. We must take a look at what the Bible calls sin and then deal with it as sin. In the case of the person who struggles with drunkenness, Ephesians 5:18 says, “…do not get drunk with wine for that is dissipation…” (See also: Gal. 5:21; Prov. 23:20-21, 29-35). Clearly, Scripture portrays drunkenness as sin. This is good, for then there is hope! The hope you can give to a person who struggles with drunkenness or any sin is seen below:
Romans 15:4-6 shows us that the Scriptures were written to bring us hope! Hope is given for sinful lifestyle and hope is given in 1 Cor. 10:13, a passage that reminds us to avoid and resist temptation, for God always provides a way of escape. Moreover, Philippians 1:6 reminds the Christian that Christ will complete His work in us, transforming us into His image (See Rom. 8:30). Our hope is based in Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 1:1) and our trust is in God (Heb. 6:19-20; 11:1). When sin is identified and hope is given to the counselee, there is great joy, for change is possible. We can now lay aside our old self (Eph. 4:17-24), and be transformed into the image of our Lord (2 Cor. 3:18).
When we deal with sin, no matter what the sin is, we must treat it in this way. First, we teach the sinner about their sin exposing it for what it is. Second we convict them with the Word of God explaining that God calls their actions sin. Third, we correct them with the Word of God, showing them that sin must be done away with, and fourth we instruct them in God’s Word showing them how to live a righteous and holy life, freed from the life-dominating power of their sin. Sin can be fought against and overcome by the power of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. Where sin abounds the grace of God abounds all the more and where sin abounds in Christian counseling, there is great hope!
*Drunkenness is merely the sin I chose. The truths of the Word of God as listen above can be applied to every single sin that mankind deals with. Temptation is common to man (1 Cor. 10:13) and there is always hope in the Word of God to deal with sin, no matter how big or small it may be!