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Didn’t Jesus Set Us Free?—What is All This Need for Inner Healing?

by Brian Flewelling on December 06, 2022

A Story About Landyn

My friend Landyn tells the story of how his father Hank was emotionally stoic and verbally critical. Hank could find anything to criticize his children about. Maybe you know someone like that. The father’s critical behavior created a cascade of emotional responses in his children, and those responses caused them to relate to their own friends, employers, spouses, and children in ways that were not rooted in the kingdom of God’s perfect love.

Here are a few examples of their childhood experiences...Hank’s children had the perception that their dad didn’t enjoy their company or love them—since he never showed them that he loved them. Consequently they never enjoyed just hanging out with dad. Hank’s constant critique created insecurity within them. They were always wondering what they had done wrong this time and never felt like anything was good enough. The fear of punishment and critique taught them to shy away from their father and hide their failures. The youngest son simply rebelled from the oppressive expectations of his dad and became the “black sheep” of the family.

The result of our emotional imprinting forms the illusion of what the world is like and how we should interact with it. When each of Landyn’s siblings had families and businesses of their own, they continued to struggle to bond emotionally with people. They worked fiercely at being the best at what they did, but possessed an insatiable thirst for approval and were easily offended by the criticism of others. They didn’t know how to celebrate or affirm other people the way they longed to be affirmed, or how to be vulnerable with the people they cared about.

Even though Landyn knew the Bible, and knew that it taught of God’s love, he expected God to punish him. He suspected that God didn’t really enjoy him with all of his flaws and sins. Landyn felt unworthy and incapable of simply being himself in front of God and others. The idea of spending time with God, or enjoying prayer, or reading scriptures—well that was just absurd. God is sort of a necessity, but not really someone you enjoy hanging around. He’s a critical father figure, a judge, who merely tolerates you as an inconvenience and is eagerly waiting to catch you in your mistakes so he can correct you. This distortion of reality in Landyn created powerful emotional lies that taught him he had to fear punishment, avoid vulnerability, and perform for approval.   

Lies Block the Love

The emotional lies that have been layered into our lives prevent us from receiving the undeserved and transformative love that God freely gives us. They act like curtains that prevent the sunlight from reaching the living-room-of-the-heart. When Landyn hears scriptures that talk about God’s joy in adopting us; that God didn’t come to judge us but save us; that God sings over his children; that his face radiates and smiles at us; that his fullest intention is to bless us; that God holds his little ones close to his heart; that he is patient with our sins and mistakes; that God is constantly thinking about us; he is near to the brokenhearted—all of these beautiful aspects of God’s personality sound like a foreign language to Landyn. He literally doesn’t know how to relate to it; and it can almost sound unbelievable.

God never changes, and the truths about him have always been clearly revealed in his Word, but our relational perception and interaction with God needs healed. Our hearts need transformed and realigned to match God’s reality and not the false reality we’ve grown up with. Jesus said, “then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). Jesus specifically says, knowing the truth sets you free—not just “the truth,” but knowing the truth. Not just recognizing what the truth is, but being fully and intimately convinced of the truth on every level of your being—that’s when you taste real and exhilarating freedom in God’s love.

A Process Back

It takes time for the theological truths that we believe about God to settle deeply into an experiential knowing on every level of our being. Luke 10:27 shows us how the worship of God has to get worked into the complex package of our emotions, intellect, core passions, relationships, habits, insecurities, hobbies, speech, etc. God designed us with distinct parts, and each of those need to operate under the leadership of his presence.    

Transformation is a process. We are saved in Jesus, and we are being saved in Jesus. His salvation and freedom exist immediately. But it takes time to work out the process of God’s holy love reshaping every part of us into the contour of his character. We still need the gospel to reach every part of our being that is not yet responsive to God. The Apostle Paul prayed, “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better” (Ephesians 1:18). And Jeremiah prophesied, “’The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel… I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people’” (Jeremiah 33:31,33).

Inner healing is another way of describing the transforming of our character on the deepest emotional levels. We love to see God’s holy love become more than a theology, but rather an all encompassing lifestyle lived out of the deepest passion of who we are. The core of that process is identifying the emotional lies that have shaped our behaviors, repenting of them, and filling those old mental habits with the powerful truths from God’s Word and his Holy Spirit.

We want Landyn to be able to rest in God’s unconditional love. We want Landyn to be able to respond in humility to criticism because he knows his identity isn’t wrapped up in perfection. We want him to experience intimate and affectionate relationships with his spouse, his children, and his Heavenly Father. And we want him to love and obey God, not simply because it’s his duty, but because he absolutely loves and enjoys remaining in his Father’s love.

Tags: truth, beliefs, habits, relationships, heart, god's love, performance, emotions, lies, inner healing

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