Fullness of Life Through Freedom in Christ

Galatians 5:1: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” 

If you’ve ever seen the movie Braveheart, the first image likely to come into your mind is  Mel Gibson’s blue painted face screaming, “FRRREEEEEEDDDOOOMMM!” as he rides into battle to bravely defend Scotland.  And if you’re a proud American, you likely proclaim that our country is great because it is free.  Our beautiful National Anthem even resounds this triumph with the concluding words, “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”  No matter how many times I’ve heard it, those majestic lyrics are enough to bring me (or any other patriot) to tears.  

It’s amazing how much strong emotion is brought on by the word and concept of freedom.  And rightly so- for it is the inborn desire of every person to be free. We yearn for the ability to think, speak, and act without hinderance or restraint; to not be governed by a foreign entity; and to not be imprisoned or enslaved to any person or thing.  

The quest for freedom takes form in many aspects of our lives.  This is evidenced by advertisements aimed at helping us find financial freedom, or advertisements informing us how working at home allows freedom in schedule setting or travel.  We even seek freedom in our physical appearance, choosing clothing, accessories, and hairstyles that reflect who we are as a person. And when it comes to relationships (or even our appearance), we might lean into phrases like, “I’m free to be me.”  We go after freedom in every category of life because it brings relief, joy, and peace.  Some might even say freedom is the foundation for life itself.  

As much as I enjoy the freedoms of this country, or believe in the benefits of financial freedom, or value the right to self-expression and healthy relationships, the truth is, these are not the freedoms I really need.  They are the freedoms I love and enjoy…but they cannot save my soul.  

Galatians 5:1 tells us it is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  This freedom is twofold: 1)Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are forgiven. Meaning, no longer can Satan (or anyone else for that matter) accuse us before God.  Our sins have been paid for in full, and for those who are in Christ, we can stand before God Almighty, uncondemned, covered in His grace. And 2) We are no longer slaves to sin; sin has been dethroned as our master!  Instead, we become servants to Christ. If you find this unsettling or confusing, take comfort in Romans 6:22 which says, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.”  

It may seem paradoxical, but a life lived in service to the Savior of the world is the life of true freedom.  There is no lasting joy to be had when we are in slavery to our sin- for this is a slavery that leads to death.  There is however, infinite and eternal joy found in living obediently to Christ- for this is a servitude that leads to life.  

Indeed, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  This freedom is the entire theme of this website as well as my book, Remade: Living Free.  I humbly invite you to join with me in the pursuit of understanding the depths of this freedom given to us by the God who loves us immeasurably.    

Living Whole: Practices for Living in Wholeness (and Conclusion)

In this series, we’ve talked about the definition of wholeness, the provision for wholeness, and the biblical principles for wholeness. However, as living out of wholeness is something to be learned, this final section will focus on 7 practices for living whole.        

Preach the Gospel to Yourself Daily 

Martin Luther once said that we should preach the gospel to ourselves every day because we forget it every day. This is so true! If we want to daily experience a sound mind, joy, peace, and assurance of God’s love, the best way we can do this is by daily grounding ourselves in the gospel. Such reminding can take many forms, but foremost is the use of Scripture. Some of my favorite go-to passages for gospel reminding are: Romans 5, Galatians 2:15-20, Ephesians 1:3-14, Colossians 2:6-15, Titus 2:11-14, and Titus 3:4-7. These are but a few of many, so as you read and study, continue to add to your own go-to passages!           

Another great way to remind ourselves of the gospel is through music. There are many fantastic songs that emphasize the power and beauty of the gospel! These range from centuries old hymns to modern tunes. Some of my current favorites are: In Christ Alone, Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery, The Power of the Cross, How Deep the Father’s Love for Us, and Living Hope. Of course, I don’t know if anything can top 2 of my favorite hymns: And Can it Be and When I Survey the Wondrous Cross. Likewise, I challenge you to find songs you love that proclaim the great gospel!       

Meditate on the Truth of Scripture 

Not only must we preach the gospel to ourselves, but we must be in the Word regularly. There is no better way to know the character of God and the promises of God than by being in his Word! One of my favorite things about our church is its commitment to memorizing Scripture. As a child, I learned many verses in Sunday School and AWANA, but I hadn’t really taken time as an adult to commit verses to memory. I’m so thankful this has changed! Memorizing God’s Word is powerful and worth the time and energy!  

I encourage you to pick one verse a month to memorize. Whether you’re struggling with anxiety, feeling uncertain of God’s love, or struggling to love others, there’s a verse (or many!) for you to draw from. As a counselor, I talk to my clients about identifying and shifting inaccurate thoughts to accurate thoughts. And nothing is more accurate than the Word of God! As we mediate on the truth of Scripture, we will experience greater joy, peace, and assurance of God’s love. We will have sound minds governed by the Word.   

Living in truth 

This practice is actually two-fold: 1) living obediently to the Word and 2) living in good theology. 

As we discussed above, there is a great need for us to preach the gospel to ourselves and to meditate continually on the Word. However, to abide in the Word is to also live it out. This means doing what it says. God has given us His standard for how we are to live. Without a doubt, this is difficult… which is exactly the point! We can’t live it out on our own. Only through the Holy Spirit living in us can we live obediently to the Word. Yet, the way to life and peace is through this very obedience. Difficult? Yes. But the result? We will be blessed with the peace and joy of God. If you need any further convincing, just check out the following verses: Psalm 1:1-3, Psalm 5:12, and Luke 11:28.  

This brings us to the second point—living in good theology. Essentially, this means we apply the truths of Scripture to ourselves. For instance, if you are in Christ, and you believe that God loves His children, then you can’t pretend that somehow His love skips over you. To hold that view is to believe there is an inconsistency or an unreliability in God. And we know that is absolutely not the case! Rather, we must accept the truth of who we are in Christ: that we are chosen, forgiven, redeemed, loved, adopted, and heirs. Shunning these truths keeps us in brokenness. Redirecting our hearts and minds to these truths fills us with the assurance of God’s love and gives us a sound mind. So please, by all means, re-direct as often as necessary!


Prayer is a primary way we commune with God, so of course we can’t neglect this practice! 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to pray without ceasing. This means we can never pray too much! While I encourage you to find a consistent time in your day for quiet and lengthier prayer, I also encourage you to think about ways to build prayer into the midst of your day. For example, take a moment to pray when your head is still on the pillow- both at night and in the morning. Pray in the shower. Pray while doing household tasks such as dishes or folding laundry, or in the silence of the car as you’re running errands. The more we intentionally seek God in prayer, the more we will know Him. And the more we know Him, the more we will be rooted in His love.  

In prayer, we present our requests to God and give Him praise and thanksgiving. But let me encourage you to also pray in a few specific ways, using four verses that pertain to wholeness as we’ve been discussing. 

“May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 3:5). This is a beautiful prayer! Humbly ask God to direct your heart to His love and to the love of Christ. 

“For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6). The NIV translates “set the mind” as governed. Either way, pray for your mind to be set upon (or governed) by the Holy Spirit.  

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, and sincere.”  (James 3:17). Oh, that we would seek God’s wisdom rather than rely on our own! Pray for God to grant you wisdom and right thinking that comes only from above.  

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”  (Galatians 5:22-23). Pray that you might grow in sanctification; that the Spirit will produce much fruit in your life.  

Connect and Receive 

One of the worst things about trauma and difficult life experiences is the isolation we feel in it. Part of our healing then comes through connection. We’ve explored already the ways in which we connect with God (through prayer and His Word), but in this brief section, I want to focus on our connection with one another. Why? Because wholeness doesn’t happen in isolation!    

One of the greatest gifts God has given His children is the Church- the body of Christ. Not only has God designed us for relationships, but He has given us a built-in family. Fellow believers in Christ are our brothers and sisters!  As such, we are to encourage one another and bear one another’s burdens (1 Thessalonians 5:11, Galatians 6:2). Now. Usually, we’re better about the doing of this verse than the receiving. But friends, the receiving is critical! Let’s look at 2 reasons why: 

  1. Dr. John Townsend once said, “We’re hurt by relationships, and we’re healed by relationships.”  I think there is great truth in this statement, especially as followers of Christ. When we allow our brothers and sisters in– to encourage us and to bear our burdens—this brings healing to a part of our hearts that desperately needs it. God uses the godly love of others to mend the brokenness incurred by those who have hurt us.   
  1.  In a weird and beautiful way, we help our brothers and sisters obediently live out the Word of God by allowing them to minister to us. After all, the call to uplift one another isn’t a suggestion—it’s a command! So, if we block the blessings others try to bestow upon us, we’re keeping them from the full joy of giving and of obedience!   Additionally, as the body of Christ, we are the way in which Christ’s love flows to one another. To reject love from a brother or sister is to reject the love of Christ. As awkward and uncomfortable as it may feel, let the people who love you love you! 

Tell What He Has Done for You 

Undoubtedly, trauma and the difficulties of life are part of our story. But we don’t have to minimize or ignore their effects. Rather, we can fully acknowledge the depths of hurt we have experienced. We can look at the pit of ugliness we’ve endured. But we also need to recognize that this is not the end of our story! How do I know this? Because our awesome God specializes in creating beauty from ashes- and He wants us to tell the full  story!     

When Jesus healed the demoniac in Mark 5, the man strongly desired to stay with him. (Who could blame him?!) But Jesus did not permit this. Rather, he instructed him to “go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” (Mark 5:19). In the same way, we are to tell others what Christ has done for us- how he has forgiven us and made us new; how he is healing our wounds and binding our broken hearts. Like the demoniac (and others Jesus healed), we are to celebrate and bear witness! When we share the story of God’s redeeming work in our lives, not only does our joy increase, but more importantly, others are pointed to the glory of Christ.  

Be Patient 

The last practice on this list is perhaps the most challenging one. Patience… Oh, how we struggle with this! One of the hardest parts of learning/growing/changing is the slow process of it all. We just think: if only I could speed this up… if only I could just fast forward to the finish! But just like anything else, learning to live whole doesn’t happen all at once. It’s a learning process that’s ushered in through the Spirit, the Word, and the body of Christ. The beauty lies not only in the “final product” but in the becoming of it.  

So, be patient with yourself, knowing that learning something new requires consistency and persistence. It takes time for new skills- new ways of being- to feel normal, natural. If you’re feeling awkward, clumsy, and as if you’re not “getting it just right” – keep going! Our God meets all of our needs in Christ Jesus and He will give us the grace needed to learn to live in wholeness.    

Living Whole: Conclusion 

In 1 Corinthians 15:10, the Apostle Paul exclaimed, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.”  By the pure grace of God, He has saved us. He has called us His own and redeemed us through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. It is because of Him that we are who we are. 

And who are we? If we are in Christ, then we’re the ones to whom the good news has been preached; the ones with bound hearts; and the liberated captives. We’re the ones who’ve been given beauty for ashes and gladness instead of mourning. We are those with opened eyes and ears and hearts made fully alive.  

It’s my prayer that as we continue to plumb the depths of the gospel, we will know and embrace this true identity—that we will leave far behind the thought of ourselves as broken and damaged.  

I pray that we press on toward the call of abundant life and wholeness in Christ. That we continue to fix our minds on the truth of the Gospel and on the author and perfector of our faith. For as we do so, we will grow in assurance of our Heavenly Father’s love, grace, and kindness. We’ll trade our anxiety for peace and our sorrow for joy. And by the Spirit we’ll be of sound mind. Through the power of the gospel, we’ll leave our brokenness behind and embrace the wholeness that is found only in Christ.  

Living Whole: Principles for Living in Wholeness

Now that we’ve looked at the gospel as the provision for wholeness, let’s turn our attention to some biblical principles about living whole.  

God is close to the brokenhearted

The above subtitle may seem antithetical to the subject of wholeness, but I wanted to start with it for this reason: As we heal from trauma and life’s difficulties, it’s reassuring to know that our God is near. He doesn’t shrink back from our pain, but rather moves into it. Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”  It is He alone who has the power to make something beautiful from the ashes of our lives. It is He alone who heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. (Psalm 147:3).     

The fact that God is with us in our pain is most strongly evidenced by the second person of the Godhead, the One who condescended and took on flesh. Though he was without sin, Jesus experienced all the ugliness the world could possibly throw upon someone. He was despised, rejected, betrayed, beaten, bruised, humiliated, and killed. As the prophet Isaiah expressed, “He was a man of sorrows acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3). What a beautiful thing to know that our Savior understands our sorrow. That because he stepped down from heaven to walk among us, he is able to sympathize with us.

Because Jesus knows our pain, not just omnisciently, but in a “been there done that” kind of way—we can freely draw near to him. We can tell him our heartaches knowing that he is not harshly judging us, but rather, that he is grieving with us. As we heal, he wraps his arms around us in sympathy. And as he does so, we are brought from brokenness to wholeness. As St. Augustine stated in his commentary on Psalm 147, “The bruised heart shall be healed.” 

We glorify God in our wholeness

When someone is accustomed to their identity as “broken,” this identity, in a strange way, can be a source of comfort. After all, we’re most comfortable with what’s familiar. It’s also possible to adopt the belief that one needs to stay broken in order to bring glory to God- as if the more we suffer in this way, the more He is glorified. This has its marks in something called asceticism. While as followers of Christ we are called to deny ourselves, those who ascribe to asceticism take this to the extreme.  

Historically, those who ascribe to asceticism hold the belief that in order to please God, one must intentionally suffer. This suffering has often been produced through the denial of worldly comforts or pleasures. However, a similar mindset can happen when we believe we must continuously suffer emotionally/mentally to glorify God. 

The truth is, we don’t need to stay broken to glorify God. Conversely, He is most glorified in our wholeness! Why? Because it is through our wholeness that His power and the glory of the gospel are displayed. When Jesus healed the demon possessed man in Mark chapter 5, he instructed him to go home to his friends and tell them how much the Lord had done for him (verse 19). In the same way, our testimony of God’s mercy and grace is used to draw others to Him. When we live in wholeness, we demonstrate the life-transforming power of the gospel. In this, we extend an invitation for others to “come and see” the One who makes us whole. (John 1:46, John 4:29). And in that, our great God is glorified.      

God Desires Wholeness for Us  

God’s design for us is wholeness. This is evident in both the Garden of Eden at creation and in the description of the New Heavens and the New Earth. Prior to the fall, Adam and Eve experienced perfect peace and joy as they communed with God and one another. This was how life was supposed to be! Think of it: None of the effects of sin existed until their rebellion against God. In the same way, when we are with Christ in the eternal state, sin and all of its effects will be put away from us once and for all. We will be perfectly whole.           

So why does this matter? What’s the significance of knowing God’s design? I would argue that in His design, we see His will. He desires wholeness for His children! He wants us to live in peace and joy, having a sound mind that is governed by His Spirit, and with the assurance that we are greatly loved by Him! In knowing this truth, we see that it is good for us to be whole. That it’s okay. As I’ve stated previously in this series, those who have experienced trauma and difficulties in life must learn a new way to be. And part of that learning includes bathing oneself in the truth that God created us to be whole.        

We’ve talked at length already about the gospel as the provision for wholeness. However, I wanted to reiterate that the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is further evidence that God desires wholeness for us. Christ alone is the source of light and life! (John 1:4, John 5:26) And not just life- abundant life! As Jesus said in John 10:10: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly.” 

The Gospel is for Everyone  

For whatever reason, sometimes it’s easier to accept that the gospel is for others rather than ourselves. We know that God loves and forgives others- yet, somehow, this doesn’t seem to fit when we look in the mirror. But let us consider these two points: 1) The gospel is for everyone and 2) Nobody deserves God’s grace.  

Scripture tells us repeatedly that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. (1 Timothy 1:15, Mark 2:17, Luke 5:32). So, if you are a sinner (which we all are) then that means the gospel is for you. Christ came for you. His love, grace, and forgiveness are for you. If you have confessed that Jesus is Lord; if you have believed in and called upon his name, then you are saved. (Romans 10:9,13). You can boldly go to him, the One who has called all who are weary, burdened, and heavily laden, and he will give you rest.         

And still, when we feel most unworthy, we know that this is the great truth of the gospel: nobody is worthy. We are saved by grace alone. For who in their own righteousness could stand before God? By the grace of God, only are our hearts and eyes opened to the Truth. By His Spirit, our hearts are regenerated. And through Christ, we are brought from death to life. None of this is because we are deserving, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23). What we are deserving of is death! (Romans 6:23).  But take heart: acknowledging the depths of our sinfulness only magnifies the love of God. This acknowledgement is not meant to drive us to despair, but rather to praise and proclaim His glorious name.      

As I conclude this post, I encourage you to take a moment to pause. Reflect on the truths communicated here and ask God to implant them in your heart and mind. Praise Him for His grace, for being a good Heavenly Father! Thank Jesus for being a perfect Savior. Worship He who alone is worthy.  

Living Whole: Provision for Living in Wholeness

As I stated in the first post of this series, living out of wholeness rather than brokenness is something that must be learned. Just as those in recovery from substance abuse must learn a new way of living, so must those who are healing from past trauma and difficult experiences. In this post, we will see how learning- and healing- is possible through Christ and the gospel.    

At the risk of sounding redundant, I will say it again: healing and wholeness are possible through the provision of the gospel. And this is the gospel: that Christ suffered once for sinners, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh and made alive in the Spirit. (1 Peter 3:18). In order to reconcile us to God, Jesus, the Son of God, endured the punishment we deserved—for the wages of sin is death. And yet, he arose, thereby conquering death and assuring us that the payment for sin had been accepted. As Scripture makes clear, all those who trust in the person and work of Christ alone will be saved. (Romans 10:13, 1 John 5:12, John 1:12).  

At first glance, it may not be exactly clear how Christ dying in our place and rising three days later leads to our wholeness and healing. But the truth is, this act of power and love is the only thing that leads to true transformation in our lives. The prophet Isaiah wrote about the coming Messiah 700 years before the birth of Jesus. Of him, he wrote: “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5).

Before his crucifixion, Jesus was horrifically beaten, spit upon, and mocked. Hanging on the cross, he then experienced the full weight of the sins of humanity. All of this was on our behalf so that we might become the forgiven sons and daughters of God. But this accomplished not only our salvation, but our healing as well. My study Bible notes, “The sufferings of Christ remove the penalty that His people otherwise owe, and as a result He will undo the effects of sin in them.” (ESV Reformation Study Bible). As I wrote in my book, Remade: Living Free, “Part of Jesus conquering death meant the effects of sin will be undone in the believer’s life. Sure, we will not always be spared the consequences of our sins, but we don’t have to live in our pain forever. His wounds have healed and freed us.” The effects of sin being undone include a sound mind, peace, joy, and the assurance of God’s love. In a word: wholeness. 

A Sound Mind Through the Gospel and the Spirit

When Jesus told his disciples he would be returning to the Father, he assured them that this was for their good. Of course, they didn’t understand how this could possibly be! After all, what could be better than having the Incarnate Son of God in their midst? But Jesus assured them, “Nevertheless, 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.” (John 16:7). This Helper, the Holy Spirit, would guide them in all truth and declare to them the things to come. (John 16:13).  

Yet, the Holy Spirit was not just given to the disciples, but to all who believe in Jesus.  (1 Corinthians 12:13, 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, Ephesians 1:13-14, 2 Corinthians 5:5, Ephesians 4:30). Even more, without the Holy Spirit, our salvation would not be possible!  Often when we think of the gospel, we think of God the Father and Christ the Son.  However, we neglect to think about the third person of the trinity, the Holy Spirit, and His role in our salvation. For truly, our salvation was a work of the triune Godhead: The Father planned it, the Son procured it, and the Spirit applied it to our hearts.  

Just as we are loved by the Father and Son, so we are loved by the Holy Spirit. In his book, Communion with God, John Owen wrote, “He [the Holy Spirit] is as willing to take upon himself the work of comforter and helper as the Son was willing to take on himself the work of redeemer.” What an amazing gift to have God’s Spirit within us! As with the disciples, he comforts us, guides us in all truth, and brings forth God’s Word to our minds at just the right time. He also convicts us of sin and helps us to judge and discern rightly. Through the Spirit, we are no longer controlled by the flesh, but are graciously given a sound mind.      

The Gospel of Peace 

Only through the gospel can we have peace with God, self, and others. Where once we may have considered a reconciliation with God to be an impossibility, through the cross we are brought near to him. (Ephesians 2:13). Near. What a beautiful and glorious truth! Through Christ, we are made new and restored to a right relationship with‌ our Creator. As 2 Corinthians 5:18 states, “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” In Christ, we are children of God, secure and at peace with our Heavenly Father.           

Because we have been reconciled to God, we now desire, and are able, to live in obedience to His commands. Through His Spirit, we will love another, bear with one another, encourage one another, forgive one another, exhort one another, and pray for one another. Of course, we will not do these things perfectly! But as the Holy Spirit continues to sanctify us, we will bear fruit and come to look more and more like our Savior. As a result of our personal sanctification, we will be able to live in peace with others.     

Finally, because of our restored relationship with God through Christ, we have peace within. As St. Augustine so famously said, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.” Yes, and Amen! To know the peace that passes understanding is to rest in the character and promises of God and to know Jesus as Lord. As the apostle John stated, “He is the true God and eternal life.” (1 John 5:20). Indeed, Christ is our highest treasure and our deepest peace.    

Joy Secured by Christ and the Gospel  

One of the greatest sources of joy for the Christian is the security of salvation. Jesus made this security very clear when He spoke of his sheep:

 “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” (John 10:28-29).  

How comforting to know that our union with Christ is a permanent condition! There is no un-uniting ourselves with Him; for the ones whom God has set His electing love upon will be kept forever in Christ. Just as God the Father can never cast out Christ the Son, so He can never cast out those who are his own. What joy we have in knowing we are safe in His grip, being forever united with Christ!   

Not only does our permanent union with Christ produce joy, but so does our communion with him. As we spend time with Jesus in the Word and in prayer, we will come to know him more- and through his Spirit, we will be filled with joy. David communicated this truth in Psalm 16:11: “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” In Christ, we have all we need for fullness of joy. As a modern hymn so aptly states, Hallelujah, all I have is Christ; Hallelujah, Jesus is my life!*  

The Apostle Paul well knew that in Christ we have all we need to be joyful. In his letter to the Philippians, he disclosed the secret to being content in every situation. He wrote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” This is the secret to joy—regardless of being in plenty or in want, in hunger or well fed, in sickness or in health. We may not always be happy in our circumstances, but our hearts can delight in our Savior from whom we are given grace upon grace. (John 1:16). Even in the midst of trials, we, like Paul, can remain joyful by setting our hearts and minds on Christ and his glorious gospel.  

Assured of God’s Love Through Christ and the Gospel 

Though we could list a million different ways God shows His love for us, nothing demonstrates His love like the giving of His Son. John 3:16, arguably the most famous verse in the Bible, loudly proclaims this truth: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” The giving of His perfect Son for the sins of a rebellious lot of sinners- this is the love of God. Even while we were still in the filth of our sin, God’s love was given to us in the sacrifice of Christ. Consider the following verses:   

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:4-5)

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

And yet, we know that our Savior was a willing Savior. After all, he is the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. (John 10:15). Jesus made this clear when he spoke of his life: “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” (John 10:18). Out of obedience to the Father and love for his sheep, he willingly endured the cross. The Apostle Paul recounted this love when he wrote, “The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20b).     

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the greatest love story ever told. If we ever doubt our value; if we ever question whether or not we’re really loved- we need look no further than the cross. For in the cross, we see the immeasurable love of God and our Savior. As Jesus said in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” This is precisely what Christ has done for us. Without a doubt, it assures us of God’s love.   

Over these last few pages, we’ve seen but a glimpse of the wholeness accomplished by the gospel. Although far more could be written regarding the provision of the gospel for our healing, we see very clearly that our wholeness does not come from within us, but results from placing our full trust in Christ. In our union with him, we are continuously sanctified by his Spirit, and are firmly held in the Father’s hand. What a beautiful way to be made whole.       

*Lyrics from All I Have is Christ by Jordan Kauflin, 2008

Living Whole: Wholeness Defined

In the previous post, we stated that living in wholeness is something we must learn—especially if a difficult and/or abusive past has been experienced. We also identified the source of our wholeness as Jesus, citing Scripture that indicates him as the One who frees captives and binds up the brokenhearted. In a later post, we will discuss how these truths are fulfilled through the gospel. For today, we will look at 4 qualities of wholeness as demonstrated by those Jesus healed.   

A Sound Mind

In 2 Timothy 1:7, the Apostle Paul wrote these words to his brother in Christ: “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” However, the KJV renders self-control as “a sound mind.” When I researched this a bit closer, I found that the Greek word, sophronismos, is from the word sophroneo, meaning “to be temperate or moderate, to be rational and have understanding and good judgment” (www.ministrymagazine.org/archive/1979/01/word-power). In short, to think rightly.

But of this one point, let’s be certain- right thinking is based on God’s truth and is under the direction of the Holy Spirit. This is at the very heart of a sound mind.*  When we focus on the eternal hope found in Christ and meditate on his Word, we are filled with wisdom from above. James describes this wisdom as “pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:17).  

Surely, a mind filled with such wisdom is sound.** 

When Jesus healed the demoniac in Mark 5, one marker of his healing was that he was “clothed, sitting, and in his right mind.” (Mark 5:15). No more roaming, crying, or cutting himself. Rather, he was calm and rational, thinking rightly, and completely at ease. He had been given a sound mind—and this was not of himself, but through Christ. 

Filled With Joy in the Lord 

Another aspect of wholeness is joy. But let’s first clarify that joy is not merely the emotion of happiness, but is, in fact, something much deeper. Just as a sound mind results from a mind set on Christ and his Word, so joy is given by the Spirit when we set our minds on the work and promises of God. John Piper put it this way, “Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the word and in the world” (www.desiringgod.org/articles/how-do-you-define-joy). I think that’s a fantastic definition of joy!  

Hebrews 13:8 tells us that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. His unchanging character is the reason we can have joy, even in the midst of trials and suffering. And because his promises are sure, we can have joy in both what he is doing now and what he will do in the future. His character and promises are the basis for rejoicing in the Lord always, as commanded by Paul through the Holy Spirit in Philippians 4:4 and 1 Thessalonians 5:16.  

When reading the historical accounts of Jesus’ healings in the gospels, we notice a theme emerge: those who were healed, and those who witnessed the healing, went away rejoicing. This was certainly the case with the paralytic (Mark 3:11), the woman with the disabling spirit (Luke 13:17) and the thankful leper (Luke 17:15-16). And yet, we know the miracles performed by Christ were meant to authenticate what he can do in the spiritual realm. While the recipients of the miracles just mentioned were overcome with joy at their physical healing, how much more will we be overcome by joy when we contemplate what Christ has done in our own hearts?  

Confidence in God’s Love 

In our brokenness, we often believe that we are, at best, alone, and at worst, unlovable. Wholeness says the opposite. Wholeness says: You are loved by God and in Christ you are forgiven. You are a wanted child of the Most High God! This is the truth that heals our hearts, the anchor that steadies us in the storms of doubt and insecurity. The authoritative Word of God clearly tells us we can place our trust in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. One of my favorite verses, Ephesians 1:7, says, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.” In short, the gospel of Jesus Christ is the source of our confidence in God’s love and forgiveness.  

Happily, Scripture is replete with the message of God’s complete and perfect love for us. So great is His love that He promises to not only save those who believe in His Son, but to finish the good work He has started in us. To the Church at Philippi, Paul wrote, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6). God’s grace to us is immeasurable, and He leaves nothing undone. We can have confidence in the completeness of our salvation because we have a completely sufficient Savior.    

Consider the woman at the well. After coming face to face with Jesus, this woman who had had 5 husbands (and was living with a man who was not her husband) left her water jar to tell the entire town that she had just met the Christ. In Jesus, she had found living water, a wellspring of eternal life. Rather than remain in her identity as an outcast, she could confidently live in her new identity as a forgiven child of God.      


Another indicator of wholeness is peace. But peace also covers a lot of ground! For instance, we desire peace with God, peace with others, and peace within ourselves. Let’s quickly define each. To have peace with God is to have a reconciled relationship with Him; a relationship that is restored to friendly terms. To have peace with others is to live in harmony and fellowship, filled with feelings of goodwill. And to have peace within is to possess the rest and tranquility, which results from trusting in the promises of God. 

The peace mentioned above that we all so strongly desire is not something that we can conjure up within ourselves. True peace is the work of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Throughout Scripture, we see that peace is applied to each person of the Godhead. In Philippians 4:7 and 9, God the Father is called “the God of peace.”  Likewise, the prophet Isaiah identified one of the names of Jesus as “the Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6). Galatians 5:22 tells us that peace is a fruit produced by the Holy Spirit. Only through our triune God we can have peace with Him, peace with others, and peace within.  

Jesus spent a lot of time interacting with the most despised people in first century Jewish culture- tax collectors. Yet, he chose to love them, to bring them into his kingdom. When Matthew was called by Jesus to follow him, he immediately left his tax booth. According to Luke 5:29, he then made Jesus a great feast at his home. Mathew, this sinful, unrighteous man, was brought into peaceful fellowship with Jesus and the other disciples. Likewise, after encountering Jesus, Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector, hosted Jesus in his home. He then declared he would restore fourfold what he had stolen and was called a son of Abraham. There’s no doubt in my mind that Matthew and Zacchaeus intimately knew the peace of God.      

In concluding this post on wholeness, it’s my great desire we see this one thing: 

Wholeness is not something we can develop from within- it is the work of Christ in us.  He alone gives us a sound mind, joy in the Lord, confidence in the Father’s love, and peace. As the series continues, we will look at how the Gospel of Christ accomplishes wholeness within us, as well as practical ways to live this out.           

*If you have a few moments, I encourage you to check out the short article “What Does the Bible Mean When it Refers to a Sound Mind?” at https://www.gotquestions.org/sound-mind.html.  This is a great website, and this article touched on some wonderful points regarding this topic! 

**For those who have experienced trauma and difficult life situations, it’s common to develop a troubled or anxious mind. Such minds often think several steps ahead, accounting for any possible negative happenings. These minds quickly perceive threats to one’s safety and are often on “high alert.” As a counselor, I see the tremendous benefit of processing trauma and learning skills to re-train the brain’s sympathetic nervous system. I truly believe God uses skilled clinicians to bring healing to the mind and body! If you would like to engage in the counseling process, I strongly encourage you to seek out a biblical counselor who combines evidenced based trauma therapy practices with biblical truths.  

Living Whole: Introduction

When I was a kid, I expected to learn how to tie my shoes, ride a bike, and swim. As I grew older, I expected to learn how to cook, buy insurance, and someday raise children of my own. But life is also full of unexpected learning. For example, I never imagined I would learn to crochet, run on my toes, or to love classic fiction. More deeply, I never thought I would learn to be content without competitive running as part of my life. As you think of your own story, I’m sure there are many examples that come to mind—both of things you expected to learn, and things you never dreamed you would have to.   

Sometimes, part of this unexpected learning includes learning to live in wholeness. This is especially true if you’ve experienced a difficult past and/or trauma. Things like mental, emotional, or physical abuse greatly impact how we see ourselves! Because of these experiences, one or both effects may occur: 1) Identity becomes intertwined with brokenness and 2) The gospel becomes difficult to accept.   

If someone has had a difficult past, it’s likely they feel irreversibly damaged or broken. Even when a degree of healing is experienced, the horror of trauma often sneaks into the very identity of a person. “I’m the broken one, the damaged one, they might think. Worse yet, they might believe that the gospel is for everyone but them. “God can love others, but not me.”  

I believe it also goes without saying that someone need not experience abuse or trauma to wrestle with the thoughts just mentioned. Our fallen natures, and our enemy, would love us to believe that we are beyond repair and that we are nothing more than our brokenness. And so, if we are to live in wholeness, we must learn how to do so. This we learn from God’s Word.  

Before we go on, let’s talk briefly about wholeness. In the eternal state, we will be completely whole—perfect in physical, mental, and emotional health. But even better, we will be completely sanctified! Although we will not be perfected until we are at home with the Lord, through Christ, we can share in a degree of this wholeness even now. The Scriptures have told us that this is so…   

700 years before the birth of Jesus, the prophet Isaiah proclaimed the Messiah would bring good news to the poor, bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to the captives, open the prisons to those who are bound, and proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor (Isaiah 61:1). When Jesus read this very passage aloud in the synagogue, he proclaimed, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:18). He was the One they had been waiting for. A few chapters later, John the Baptist, from his prison cell, asked the disciples to report back to him Jesus’ answer as to whether he was the Messiah who was to come. In response to John’s question, Jesus said, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.” (Luke 7:22).  

Truly, he is the One who was to come; the One who saves us from our sin; the One who gives us new life. By him and him alone, we are restored, healed, and made whole.    

In the following post, we will look at 4 qualities of this wholeness here on earth: a sound mind, joy in the Lord, confidence in God’s love, and peace that passes understanding.  

Strangely Dim

The sea was churning, and the wind blew hard in their faces. Beaten by the waves, the men had become weary. How their hearts must have fainted within them when they beheld a man coming toward them, walking on the water. But then, what words of comfort they heard: “Take heart, it is I. Do not be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27).  

What happened next never ceases to amaze me. Peter, knowing it was the Lord, joined Him on the water. I’ve often marveled at Peter’s demonstration of faith, but even more, I’m amazed that he thought of the possibility of walking on the water. To be honest, I don’t think I would have.  

In the midst of the churning sea, Peter stepped out of the boat. With his eyes fixed on his Lord, he began doing the impossible. What that must have been like! What was Peter thinking in those few moments? What did he feel? I can’t wait to ask him one day. 

Yet, we know his walk was brief. Overcome by the sight of the roaring sea, he took his eyes off Jesus and began to sink. In his fear, he cried out. But our gracious Lord, mighty to save, took him by the hand and led him to the boat. 

How often do we feel the same? As though the wind is constantly against us, as if we’re being swallowed by the waves? Like Peter, it’s so easy to doubt, to take our eyes off of Jesus. Though I know our Lord is the One who tramples the waves of the seas, I struggle at times to keep my gaze upon his face. Sometimes I wonder which is easier: to trust the Lord’s ability to tame a raging sea- or to trust His ability to care for me. 

And still, I know what happens when I cast my eyes on the cares and distractions of the world. Like Peter, I flail about, sinking quickly into the deep. 

Helen Lemmel, writer of Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, likely knew this lesson as well. At the very least, I’m sure she was familiar with Peter’s story. She rightfully wrote: 

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in his wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.” 

What a simple but beautiful reminder. The things of this world, whether the shiny or the sorrowful, pale compared to all that we have in our Savior. 

Where are your eyes fixed? Upon the sorrows of this world? Towards the glittering distractions? Or, upon the face of Christ? May He alone be our vision. And when He is, our cares, worries, and concerns – along with any earthly glory – will suddenly grow strangely dim. Like Peter, we will not sink, but will be led to safety by the hand of our Lord.   

“To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens! Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he has mercy upon us.” (Psalm 123:1-2).

The Sealed Promise

I couldn’t begin to count the number of times I’ve listened to Phil Wickham’s song, “Living Hope.”  It’s glorious and I love it!  But this morning as I was readying myself for the day, a particular phrase jumped out at me: “Then came the morning that sealed the promise, your buried body began to breathe.”  I just stood there in awe thinking of the significance of that phrase.  Christ’s resurrection sealed the promise that one day we too will be raised.  

When Jesus walked out of that grave he demonstrated once and for all that the Father had accepted his punishment on our behalf.  Because Christ was raised, we have confidence we are forgiven!  But his resurrection also demonstrated the reality of our own future resurrection- which is something I’ve been thinking a lot about.   

The topic of eschatology (the study of the last things) has been on my mind heavily since last summer.  As I’ve delved into this topic, I’ve come to see the glory of God’s kingdom in a new light- and I am filled with so much hope!  I cannot even begin to imagine how glorious the resurrection of the dead will be for those who are in Christ.  Over and over I’ve read the words of 1 Corinthians 15 and have continued to be amazed:

“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.  But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ,”  (v.20-23).           

“The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.  As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.  Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven,” (v.47-49). 

Christ came as the true and better Adam; and by his life and death he has saved the hellbound man.*  In his flesh he lived a perfect life, and in his flesh he was put to death.  But unlike the first man, he defeated death, was raised to life, and once more walked the earth in physical flesh.  His resurrected body a forever demonstration of what awaits us at his Second Coming.    

No guilt in life, no fear in death.**  God’s Word assures us of this truth in the strongest way possible: Christ’s resurrection.  Our debt has been paid- and we have nothing to fear.  Rather, we have only a physical eternity with Christ to gain.  For this reason, I will one day be happily laid to rest with the word, Resurgam, inscribed on my tombstone.  Latin for “I shall rise again,” this I hold with the deepest possible assurance.  For Christ in power has been resurrected, as we will be when he comes.*  

*Words from “Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery” by Boswell, Papa, and Bleeker, 2013

**Words from “In Christ Alone” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, 2001

How Much More

“It will take all of eternity to fathom God’s love, and those who are saved will never plumb the depths of it.”  This statement from Faucett & Brown’s 1871 Bible Commentary is the crux of this post.  Try as we might, we will never be able to put our arms fully around the truth of the great gospel.  Though His infinite love is scarcely comprehensible to our finite minds, God’s Word communicates the depths of the Father’s love in words and pictures that are simple enough for His children to grasp.  This He does with three beautiful words: How much more.   

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus addressed both the Father’s ability- and desire- to care for His people.  Knowing their anxious hearts, Jesus assured his followers of God’s provision for all of their needs.  He told them they need not worry about their clothing, what to wear, or their stomachs, what to eat- for God clothes the lilies of the fields and feeds the birds of the air.  He then said, “But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!” (Luke 12:28).  A few verses later we learn even more of the Father’s love.  For Jesus said, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom,” (Luke 12:32).  

Speaking again of the Father’s desire to give to those who ask, seek and knock, Jesus used an analogy close to our hearts: that of a father and a son.  He asked, “What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpian?” (Luke 11:12).  Surely, we and the original audience could not imagine doing such a wretched deed!  Driving home the point, Jesus then said, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13).  

And not only does He give the Spirit, but His generosity culminates in the giving of the richest gift possible- His perfect, unblemished Son.  The picture of this sacrifice had been painted for over fifteen hundred years in the sacrificial system of the Law.  In Christ, it was made manifest in the flesh.  Only his substitutionary death could atone for our sins and satisfy the holy wrath of God.  Only through him is our complete redemption possible:  “For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Hebrews 9:13-14). 

That He would give His Son as the once and for all sacrifice to reconcile lost sinners to Himself is an immeasurable kind of love.  The kind of love that gives us the utmost confidence and assurance of His continual provision for our lives.  As Paul asked in Romans, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).  If He has given us the most treasured gift of all, how much more will he clothe, feed, and give us good gifts?  His love is extravagant and we cannot fathom it.   

Our God, who is rich in mercy, has done, is doing, and will continue to do far more abundantly for His children than could ever be imagined.  Though we worship and praise Him now, how much more will we fall at His feet in praise and adoration when we behold His unveiled glory.  Indeed, eternity will not be long enough for us to comprehend or celebrate the magnitude of His grace and love.  Yet, even now we pray, come, Lord Jesus, come!   


In my mind’s eye, I can still see him behind the pulpit, the aged yet slender man with thinning hair and untamed eyebrows.  He, the man with a gentle heart and a gentle voice, offering my most favorite benediction: 

Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless before his glorious presence with exceeding joy- to the only wise God our Savior be glory, majesty, dominion and power, both now and forevermore.  

I loved it when he ended the service that way.  Those words never failed to bring a smile to my lips and tears to my eyes.  

There’s certainly much to love about those closing verses from the book of Jude.  While I adore the opening line declaring Christ’s ability to keep us from falling, it’s the next part that always strikes me: Jesus presents us faultless before his presence.  Faultless.  When I think of my sin- of the many many ways in which I have fallen short in thought, word, and deed- I can hardly comprehend how such a presenting could be true.       

To be faultless is to be irreproachable; free from defect, error, blame, or guilt.  Yet, I know all too well that I am the very opposite- I know that I am guilty and full of fault.  Still, the truth of a blameless status is woven throughout Scripture, shouting so loudly that it can’t be ignored.  Those in Christ are called guiltless, holy and without blemish, and above reproach (1 Corinthians 1:8, Ephesians 5:27, Colossians 1:27).  And so we humbly ask: How can this be? 

The answer is found in the beautiful truth of the great exchange.  On the God forsaken cross at Calvary, Jesus took upon himself the grotesque sin that is yours and mine.  

This he lifted from our shoulders onto his, and bore the punishment that should have been our own.  But as exchanges go both ways, he did not leave us spiritually neutral.  No, from his shoulders onto ours was placed perfect righteousness; the righteousness earned from 33 years of sinless living.     

This was the only way.  By no other works could we stand before him- for only the works of One who was innocent and unstained could suffice (Hebrews 7:26).  And to imagine!  This so that we may be received by him with exceeding joy!  That he may look upon us, dressed in the righteousness belonging only to him, the King, and welcome us with supreme gladness.       

I can only imagine such a day!  The day when we will stand before him no longer a ruined sinner, but as a blameless saint; not as one marred by the unsightly stain of sin, but as one who is stainless and pure; not as a condemned child of wrath, but as a faultless child of God. 

Among the Tombs

Mark 5:1-20

Night and day he roamed, the epitome of darkness personified.  He was a possessed man, tormented and lost.  Naked and alone with the voices of demons in his mind, he perpetually cut himself with stones.  How his anguished cries must have echoed as he wandered the solitary tombs.  Almost fittingly, this dead man walking had made his home among the dead.  And though he could not be bound by the chains of man, he was spiritually bound by the Enemy.  He had no hope of rescue, for he could do nothing to free himself.  

But seeing Jesus from afar, this afflicted man ran from the tombs onto the shore.  Falling at Jesus’ feet, the spirits through him cried, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?”  Yet, they knew he had come for their destruction.  By the simple word of the Master the evil spirits came out, fleeing at once into a herd of pigs.  For who but the King of Kings can command even the demons?  

And of the man once possessed?  No longer resigned to roam the tombs, he was now a picture of restoration.  Sitting, clothed, and in his right mind, there was no hint of darkness, only that of light.  Though he longed to be with the One who had saved him, he was instructed to return home to his friends so that he might share with them the mercy of the Lord.  HomeHow long had it been?  And how he must have wept for joy knowing his home would never again be among the tombs.            

Amazingly, the miracle of this story is that it shows us our own.  For we too were once bound by the Enemy.  Unable to free ourselves, we were held captive to sin.  Born with stone hearts that were made dead in Adam, we lived spiritually among the tombs.  Dead in sin. Dead in hope.    

But while we were a long way off, our Father in Heaven saw our plight.  Planned from all eternity, the Son of Man came to give his life for ours, to take upon himself the punishment we deserved.  And finally, to defeat our ancient foe by walking out of a tomb.  For who but the King of Kings can conquer even death?  All of this, so that falling at his feet we may receive new hearts- hearts of flesh that are made alive in Christ.  

Just as the demoniac would have no future among the bones of dead men, so our home is no longer among the tombs.  Rather, our home is in the heavenly places with our Lord, seated among the saints.  As we revel in this truth, may it be our joy to proclaim how much the Lord has done for us, how he has showered us in mercy.  And by our testimony may everyone marvel. 

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