10 Ways to Detect Ungodly Counsel

A Tough Lesson From the Life of King Rehoboam

By Charles F. Stanley
  • March 23, 2020

In 1 Kings, chapter 12, young King Rehoboam needed wise counsel. Shortly after he became king, the people of Israel came to him asking that he lighten the hard service and heavy yoke that his father, Solomon, had placed on them. The elders who had served his father gave him the following advice: “If you will be a servant to this people today and will serve them and grant them their petition, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever” (v. 7).

But Rehoboam also went to the young men who grew up with him and served him. They advised him to increase the people’s labor and taxes and assert his power over them. Foolishly, he forsook the recommendations of the elders and followed the young men’s advice to speak harshly to the people.

Rehoboam and the nation of Israel paid a high price because he listened to the wrong counselors. Although our wrong choices may not have such disastrous consequences as his did, we’d do well to learn from his folly by being very careful whom we choose for our counselors.

So, how do we detect bad counsel? Here are some red flags:

  1. Unwise counselors make little or no mention of God or His Word. Their advice will be based on what they think, not what God thinks.

  2. There will be an absence of prayer. It’s not considered very important.

  3. They may display a subtle defensiveness about using Scripture for guidance. Preferring to rely on their own senses, they see it as unnecessary.

  4. They may suggest actions that are not scriptural. Their advice may sound and feel right, but it actually violates what God says in His Word.

  5. Unwise counselors may be very critical of Christian leaders or godly people. They warn against listening to them, asserting that only their way is right.

  6. They suggest reading material that ignores God’s Word. There are thousands of counselors in our culture, and many of them rely on resources that have nothing to do with the truths of Scripture. Therefore, we must be careful to recognize and reject materials that do not present God’s views.

  7. Sometimes counselors give advice according to what they think we want to hear. But a wise counselor considers what God says first and foremost.

  8. An advisor may seek to control the one counseled. We must be cautious about letting someone try to control our activities and relationships with their advice.

  9. Some counselors may seek to create a sense of dependency on them. But we are called to trust in the Lord, heed His Word, and follow His leadership. If we trust Him for our salvation, surely we can trust Him for guidance. The wisest counsel we could possibly find is in God’s Word. We should invest our time in learning Scripture and seeking help from those who know it well and can guide us to the right passages.

  10. Avoid counselors with an ungodly lifestyle. This applies to both professionals and friends. If someone is not living rightly, it’s doubtful that they will be able to give godly advice. If we want to know what God desires, we must go to His Word or to someone who knows it well and lives in obedience to it.

When you talk to someone about your problems, what are you truly seeking? Support? Sympathy? Agreement? Direction? God’s viewpoint? Be sure to use biblical criteria for choosing a counselor, because it’s vitally important that the advice you receive is shaped by the Word of God.

This article was originally published on October 27, 2017 and is adapted from the Sermon Notes for Dr. Stanley’s message “Seeking Godly Counsel,” which aired this past weekend.

Related Topics:  Gods Will  |  Gods Promises  |  Encouragement

7 Then they spoke to him, saying, If you will be a servant to this people today, and will serve them and grant them their petition, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever."

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