Ditching Our External Polish to Live in Spiritual Freedom

Quote from J. Edwin Orr on blue background

Trying to live a God-honoring life in our own strength is like spring cleaning with our hands zip-tied and strobe lights flashing. Bound and vision distorted, we may be able to knock some cobwebs out of our way, but we’ll remain oblivious to the spiders forming them. We may, in fact, help hide and thus fortify their webs.

As commentator Jamieson-Fausset-Brown put it: “Whatever in religion Is disconnected from Christ comes to nothing.” Worse than nothing in fact. Unless empowered by our Savior, our most fervent efforts inevitably lead to exhaustion and increased bondage. To a life where we’re always grasping and striving, never quite able to reach the freedom for which our souls so desperately ache. I’ve been there. I know what it feels like to fight against sin, to fight for a better life, only to feel the weight of it all come crashing down.

Whenever I see others in that self-defeating cycle, I remember the soul-crushing futility I once felt. And my heart cries out, “Look up! Your rescue has arrived.” Only they can’t see it, or if they do, they discount it. Because in order to grab hold of salvation, they first must come to terms with the depth of their mess. That can feel terrifying for those who’ve spent a lifetime hiding behind laced curtains.

This has always been God’s call. To trust, and ultimately to admit, despite how we appear in all those photo-shopped pictures we so readily share across social media, that we truly don’t have it all together. That we’re floundering and need a Savior.

In love, He urges us to open wide the doors of our hearts so that His grace can swoop into every corner, every crevice, and truly wash us clean.

Quote from post on light blue background.

Speaking to the religious elite of His day—those who routinely hid their filth like greed, pride, and lust, behind a well-polished veneer, Jesus said, 21 “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. 22 But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up his plunder.

23 “Whoever is not with Me is against me, and whoever does not gather with Me scatters.

24 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ 25 When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. 26 Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first” (Luke 11:21-26, NIV).

In context, He was refuting accusations that His power against evil came from evil, which clearly made no sense. But His message went even deeper. In essence, He told them, “I stand before you, greater than all the forces of darkness that war against your soul. You can’t fight your demons alone. You need me. And I am here.”

He’s offering the same invitation to us. We can dress up our outsides with smiles, appropriate religious slogans, and charitable acts, or we can surrender to the only one with the power to truly make us clean. To truly set us free.

Only then can we say, without hesitation or hypocrisy, “Blessed” –happy and free— “is the one whose sin the LORD does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit” (Ps. 32:2, NIV).

No hiding. No pretending. No frantic polishing. Simply resting, yielding, and transforming.

For those following the New Testament Chronological Bible reading plan … Today’s post kicks off day one’s reading.

Week 18's Bible reading plan daily readings.

And if you’re looking for a Bible plan but don’t want to read through the New Testament, you may enjoy my Journey Through Ephesians plan, produced by Wholly Loved Ministries and available on the YouVersion app. Find it HERE.

Those with teenage and young adult daughters might find my article on helping our daughters who might struggle with mental health helpful. You can find that HERE.

Break Free from Relationally Harmful Reactions Faith Over Fear

We all have certain reactions that arise when we feel threatened, whether that threat is real or perceived. We have an innate desire to self-protect. If we aren’t aware of these tendencies, however, we may react in ways that pushes others away and therefore reinforce or deepen our hurts and increases our defensive reactions. In this episode, mental health expert Tina Yeager helps us unpack these potentially destructive responses, what triggers them, and how we can respond to our triggers and our reactions in a grace-filled, healthy way. (Contact Tina through her website provided below to find out how to access the free resource she mentioned in today’s episode.)(Scroll down to find the group discussion questions)Find Tina Yeager: https://www.tinayeager.com/books/https://www.instagram.com/tina.yeager.9/https://www.facebook.com/tina.yeager.9Find Jennifer Slattery at:https://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com/https://www.instagram.com/slatteryjennifer/https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100083247680572Find Wholly Loved Ministries at:WhollyLoved.comJoin the private Faith Over Fear Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/442736966614671Join the Private Wholly Loved Community Group (also on Facebook):https://www.facebook.com/groups/443325386241769Group Discussion or Personal Journal Questions:1.What resonated with you most in this episode?2.When do you most tend to get defensive? 3.In those particular situations, what story are you telling yourself?4.What are some truths you can reflect upon prior to those types of situations or interactions with that particular person?5.Why is it important to recognize that not everyone is a safe person who will be helpful while you are working to heal? 6.How did you feel when Tina and Jennifer talked about potentially limiting time with unhealthy family members? 7.What were some signs Tina mentioned that can indicate a person is not willing to change? 8.How can recognizing this help you find the healthiest level of involvement with an individual more focused on casting blame than moving toward relational health?9.What is one action step God might be asking you to take after having listened to today’s content?
  1. Break Free from Relationally Harmful Reactions
  2. Freed From Toxic Relationships to Help Others Break Free (with Carolyn Whitney) – Ep. 131
  3. Thankfulness in Changing Seasons – Ep. 130
  4. Fighting Anxiety and Fear Through Praise (with Becky Harling) – Ep. 129
  5. When Self-Reliance Leads to Addiction (with Carol McCracken) – Ep. 128

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