Godly Counsel vs Worldly Counsel
Discerning the Difference
1. advice; or instruction given upon request, for directing the judgment or conduct of another.
synonyms: advice, guidance, counseling, direction, information
2. the lawyer or lawyers conducting a case.
synonyms: lawyer, advocate, attorney, counselor
Throughout the course of our daily living, we are continually faced with the process of decision-making. Some of these decisions seem minor and trivial, while others may have a broader range of consequences. The decisions we make, however big or small, will have an effect on ourselves, the people around us, and ultimately, the course of our lives.
I think we’ve all been in that situation where we’ve deliberated about a certain decision, and we pretty much have our minds made up as to the course we’re going to take, but then we run it by a few friends or family members in order to see if their opinions will agree with our own. We’re looking for the advice we want to hear.
As followers of Christ, we have a responsibility to use discernment about what kinds of counsel we are receiving. About who we are sharing intimate details with and who we are allowing to speak into our lives.
The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray.
A scoffer seeks wisdom and finds none, but knowledge is easy to him who understands. Leave the presence of a fool, for you will gain no knowledge from his speech.
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.
Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”
-1 Corinthians 15:33
See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.
You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
“Woe to the rebellious children,” says the LORD, “who take counsel, but not of Me, and who devise plans, but not of My Spirit, that they may add sin to sin.”
The word of God explains that there are two types of wisdom- godly wisdom and worldly wisdom. Worldly wisdom is any counsel, teaching, philosophy, or attitude that does not line up with the truth of God’s word. It is instead carnal, prideful, selfish, and deceitful. It is a mindset which places our own will ahead of God’s will. This type of advice appeals to our flesh, rather than to our spirit.
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.
In the letter of James we see the contrasting nature of these two types of wisdom:
Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior and deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, and without hypocrisy.
The apostle Paul writes of how the so-called wisdom of the world is actually foolishness to God:
Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are worthless.”
-1 Corinthians 3:18-20
For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
-1 Corinthians 1:19-20
When seeking guidance and direction for our lives, we do not need worldly wisdom, or the opinions of man, we need true biblically based wisdom. Therefore, the first step in decision making for the believer, should be bringing it before the Lord in humble submission. Seeking the Father’s counsel on the issue, through prayer and time in His word.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction
For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding
Do not be wise in your own eyes, fear the LORD and turn away from evil.
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.”
Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.
This also comes from the LORD of hosts, He is wonderful in counsel and excellent in wisdom.
We are told that we should delight in the counsel of God’s word, and that it is to be the guide which illuminates the path of our lives.
Your testimonies are my delight and my counselors.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus reveals what is to be the believer’s number one priority amongst the cares and needs of our daily lives:
“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Secondly, we should seek wise counsel from other like-minded believers in the body of Christ. Those who are familiar with the word of God, and who care for our spiritual, as well as our physical well being.
The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice.
Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in the multitude of counselors there is safety
Folly is joy to him who lacks sense, but a man of understanding walks uprightly. Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisors they succeed. A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!
O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing it some have gone astray from the faith. Grace be with you.
For our proud confidence is this: the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting
to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another,
and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
In closing, I’d also like to take the time to draw attention to the definition of the word ‘counsel’ found at the beginning of this article. Notice how one of the meanings is that of a legal representative, an ‘advocate’ or ‘counselor’. What is fascinating about this, is found in the descriptive title Jesus gives regarding the Holy Spirit.
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever”
“When the Helper comes, whom I will send to from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me”
“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you, but if I go, I will send Him to you.”
The word translated as ‘Helper’(some translations use Advocate, Counselor, Comforter) here in each of these passages, is the Greek word parakletos.
Its definition is this:
a) called to one’s aid, summoned to come alongside
b) one who pleads another’s cause before a judge, an advocate, legal assistant, defense counselor, an intercessor
Jesus said it was to our advantage that He go, so that He may send the Holy Spirit to be our Helper, our Advocate and Counselor. As Jesus spoke these words to encourage His disciples, so may we too be encouraged by this amazing revelation.
As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, born again to new life, we have this Spirit of truth, this Helper who will be with us forever. Who guides us in our spiritual walk, convicts us of righteousness and brings to our remembrance the testimony of Christ.