Others lead me astray when I go home from counseling sessions.

That others—family members or friends—may have influence upon you for the worse is understandable. Paul wrote, "Don't be misled, 'Bad companions corrupt good habits"' (1 Corinthians 15:33). However, there is no excuse for you to follow them. You are already far ahead of many who don't recognize the problem for what it is. Paul's says "Don't be misled." Many are misled, not realizing that the influence of others for evil is a powerful force that must be reckoned with. You, however, are not misled; you are fully aware of the fact. That means that you are well on your way toward solving the problem.

But what should you do to overcome their influence? First, realize that in every relationship influence is exerted in one direction or another. Either another is influencing you for evil, or you are influencing him for good. The goal, ultimately, is for you to become such an influence for good that no matter who you may be with, your influence prevails. Often, when that happens, those who reject the gospel message will abandon you and you will be free from their influence. In other cases, they may continue for some time, but eventually give up (or give in) leaving you free. But in all cases, you must learn to "resist" evil influences (1 Peter 5:9).

You are weak. Until the time that you have become strong enough to resist and turn the influence around, as I have said, you will probably want to avoid contact with those who would lead you astray. That is not always possible, of course, especially when those influences come from members of your own household. What must you do then? First, believe that the Lord can grant you strength to overcome. You should ask Him for that help. But it will not come automatically. In order to become "bulletproof' you must "put on God's complete armor so that you can stand up against the devil's devices" (Ephesians 6:11). When you do so, you will become "strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might" (Ephesians 6:10). Notice, it is not in your own strength that you can withstand evil; it is His strength that you need.

But how does one gain such strength? The "complete armor" of Christ, that will enable you to "resist in the evil day," and that will assure that at the end you "will still be standing" (v. 13), consists of "truth" (found in Scripture, the Spirit's sword), "righteousness" (as truth is transformed into life), evangelism (as one presents the truth to others), faith (as he fearlessly trusts himself to the truth of God) and salvation (which sums up what truth is all about). After laying out these things in Ephesians 6:13-17, Paul concludes by urging prayer in the use of all of this equipment (since we are unable to use it properly without God's help). And he urges alertness and perseverance to boot. But notice, everything circles around God's truth and its effects.

But you probably will want to have a greater understanding of how this comes about in the specific situations that you must face. Neither Paul, nor anyone else writing generally for all Christians in all situations, can become that specific. The principles that he presents are very helpful, but, as you surely recognize, they must be applied concretely in your case. How, will you be able to do so? That, my friend, is precisely why you have engaged a counselor to help. The task of a Nouthetic counselor is to expound the Scriptures, explaining the principles therein, and then to apply them to specific cases, like yours. In addition, he will show you how to implement these principles in practical ways consonant with truth of Scripture.

Nouthetic counselors are men who are engaged in the work of understanding and using God's truth. That is what they understand being "biblical" to mean. You have made a good choice in asking for such help. Be willing to cooperate fully as your counselor explains and applies God's truth to your situation.

Jay E Adams

Institute for Nouthetic Studies

100 White Meadow Ct
Simpsonville, SC 29681

(864) 399-9583




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