Question: I know that we should “rejoice in the Lord always,” but with things in the world the way they are now—the chaos, killings, anger, and dishonesty—how do we find honest ways to do that?
Response: You are being truthful about your feelings, but let’s look at the scripture again. It doesn’t say, “Rejoice in the Lord always…unless you are unable to do so because of an unhappy childhood, a bout of depression, or adverse circumstances.” Nor does it say “Be anxious for nothing…unless you have a nervous disposition.” It does not say, “Forgive…unless you are unable to do so because of abuse.” Nor are we to be excused from the command, “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts” because we have been diagnosed as “susceptible to stress.” Neither are we excused from the command to love just because we find certain people unlovable.
Unfortunately, the simple obedience to God’s Word that sound doctrine compels has been undermined by “psychological counseling” that nourishes unbelief and rebellion. Therapy then offers to justify our disobedience, to comfort us in our rebellion, and to provide the peace and joy that only God can give to those who trust and obey Him.
The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance (Galatians:5:22-23). These are clearly declared to be the fruit not of therapy but of the Holy Spirit working in our lives. How does this take place? Does God somehow “zap” us and we are instantly transformed? No, but as God’s truth so grips our hearts, we are fully persuaded to be ruled by His Word, to obey Him, and to trust Him to fulfill in us what He promised. This obviously is not to deny the miraculous working of the Holy Spirit powerfully in our hearts and through us in others, in ways that are beyond human comprehension. Instead, it is merely to say that the Bible clearly declares that God works in our lives through our obedience to His Word. As Jesus said, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John:8:31,32).