Sermon Illustrations


I remember a particular counseling session years ago where three of us were trying to encourage a change of personality and a change of behavior in a spouse.

Dr. Jay Adams, in his book on direct, biblical counseling, said the purpose is not to find out why a person sinned, in order to excuse him because of a bad childhood, oppressive father, mocking friends, harsh employer. We know why a person sinned – because he is a sinner. (That kind of preaching won’t draw crowds, but it will help those who accept God’s diagnosis and seek help.)

What we need to know is what the person did - what offense s/he committed - and what must be done to correct it. So look not so much for Why? as What?

In this particular session, one spouse had not done what the action the group had agreed on the previous week. The other spouse said, "You didn’t do what you agreed to do. You are a liar, and there is no way to go forward." The response was, "No, I’m not a liar."

After a couple of such exchanges, I stepped in to say, "Since you agreed to make this specific change and you did not, how would you describe the problem?" The person replied, "Well, I’m at fault." Not a liar, but "at fault." That is a word game, an attempt to call lung cancer just a chest cold.

"If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness" (1 John 1:8-9 NLT).

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