Remember the outdoor water game Slip ‘n Slide? To slide as fast as possible, you could place the thin, yellow plastic slide on a gentle hill. Then you run, jump on the slide, pick up speed, reach the end, and tumble into muddy grass. Then you ran back and did it again—and again.
Sinful choices can become a slippery slope too. One sinful choice may slide into another, reminiscent of Psalm 1:1; then the Christian may face a problem she helped create: a marital separation, an addiction, a lost job, anxiety, depression, bitterness. Her problem might cause enough angst to bring her to your counseling office, looking for relief. But relief isn’t the real answer is it? Relief is among the world’s counterfeits for mankind’s greatest and truest need—the gospel.
In this short article, you’ll learn how to give hope after a fall and help to get up and walk again. Your counselee’s sin problem is an opportunity for you to give guidance for her Christian walk (Eph. 4:1-4).
No one is immune to the self-deception of thinking he or she can sidestep the slippery slope of sin. James writes, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers” (1:14-16, ESV).
I’m reminded of a time many years ago when I caught my young son with a holiday treat in his fists and smeared on his shirt.
“Did you have permission to eat candy?” I asked.
“I didn’t eat any chocolate,” he blurted.
“What’s that on your shirt and in your hand?”
His forehead wrinkled. “Well, I didn’t mean to eat them!”
Giving Hope after a Fall
Your counselees need not remain in a muddy puddle of poor choices. Knowing one’s identity in Christ is powerful and hopeful. By the power of the Holy Spirit, Christians can remember who they are in Christ, as described in Ephesians:
- saints (1:1)
- blessed (1:3)
- chosen (1:4)
- adopted (1:5)
- lavished with love (1:6)
- redeemed and forgiven (1:7) and more.
As you help your counselees remember who they are in Christ, you’ll give them hope to live out who they already are: God’s children. They also need the reminder that they are no longer identified by what they did and who they were–slaves to sin (Rom. 6:6-7). In Christ they have been restored. “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, your where justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11, NIV). Remind your counselees of who they are in Christ and of what Christ did for them, and they will have hope after a fall.
Here is a suggested assignment to help counselees understand the blessings associated with being “in Christ”: Give your counselee the assignment of reading Ephesians 1 and listing, verse by verse, the words describing her new identity in Christ.
Giving Encouragement to Walk after a Fall
To get up and walk in the ways of Christ, encourage your counselees with a masterful passage tucked in Titus:
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. (Titus 2:11-13, emphasis mine).
Paul wrote the epistle to Titus, encouraging him on several counts, including the truth that we are saved for good works (not by good works). Remind your counselees that they can get up and walk in God’s strength because the same gospel that saved them also sanctifies them. As Titus 2:12 underlines, grace trains them:
- To renounce ungodliness and worldly passions
- To live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives
Trained by grace, your counselees can say “No” to sin and live a godly life, for in his kindness and mercy, Jesus cleansed them by his blood and gave them new life so that they might display good works.
Consider these verses from Titus:
“Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works” (2:7a).
“A people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (2:14).
“Ready for every good work” (3:1).
“Careful to devote themselves to good works” (3:8).
Just as your counselees fall down the slippery slope of sin, they can make better choices by God’s grace. To do this, help them remember who they are in Christ and encourage them (1) to renounce ungodliness through confession and repentance and (2) to live a godly life marked by good works. They do not need to wonder if this is possible, because “Jesus Christ … gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:13-14).
Join the Conversation
How have you sought to teach counselees the critical doctrine of their identity in Christ?