...so also ye, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to the sin, and living to God in Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not then the sin reign in your mortal body, to obey it in its desires; neither present ye your members instruments of unrighteousness to the sin, but present yourselves to God as living out of the dead, and your members instruments of righteousness to God; for sin over you shall not have lordship, for ye are not under law, but under grace. Romans 6:11-14 (Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible)
I have been reading and studying through Romans and today I was thinking about how the above passage applies to biblical counseling as I studied through the it in the Greek.
To "reckon yourself dead to sin" means that as Christians we are to to conclude or count on the reality that we are dead to the sin that once enslaved us. Perhaps a better way of saying it is that the sin is dead to us. This would look like the sin having no impact or effect on us in any way, shape, or form. It is dead in every respect. Scripture says that this truth is self-evident to the Believer.
Our counselee's certainly don't live that way, do they? So many of them appear to be (and are) in bondage to some sin or another and despite their best efforts they have been unable to escape its clutches. What is the reason for their ongoing slavery to sin that Scripture proclaims as "dead?"
One important piece of the puzzle is the willingness of the counselee to continue participating in the sin. This same passage makes it clear that the responsibility of the Believer is to live as though the truth is true. They have been enabled to do so through Jesus Christ therefore they are commanded not to let sin rule or dominate them.
What the counselee needs to learn or understand is that the reason they continue to sin is because they continue to permit themselves to sin. As I gather data from them I often learn that they are giving themselves over to sinful thoughts, beliefs, and desires and these are what feed the flesh and lead to the sinful actions they bring to the counseling table.
This is what the Scriptures mean when they say, "do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness;" (Romans 6:13). Our counselee's must understand that the sin that brings them to counseling is a result of obeying the wrong master. In fact, they are obeying a master who no longer has any righteous say so over their activities, because that master is dead.
For a counselee who has not been taught this truth this will be a quite a revelation! Unfortunately, many churches support the disease model of counseling or send their sheep to a secular counselor where the person will be told their behavior is a disorder or an addiction they have no control over or responsibility for. Many are also told from the pulpit that it is impossible for us not to sin, totally denying the reality of the victory over sin that is ours in Christ.
Am I teaching sinless perfection? No. I understand that we will not be perfected until we enter into glory. However, I cannot deny what the Word of God teaches, and there is clear teaching here that states that we are to offer our bodies as instruments of righteousness instead of sin. When the counselee learns the importance and possibility of heart change on the heels of the previous truths, they are greatly encouraged and believe there is hope for them after all! I would encourage you to share this with a struggling counselee at your next opportunity.