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.
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.
Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”
-1 Corinthians 15:33
“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.
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:
-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.
Do not be wise in your own eyes, fear the LORD and turn away from evil.
Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.
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.
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:
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!
-1 Timothy 6:20-21
-2 Corinthians 1:12
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.
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.