What To Preach To Yourself Everyday

Because we are so naturally prone to look at ourselves and our performance more than we do to Christ and his performance, we need constant reminders of the gospel.

If we’re supposed to preach the gospel to ourselves everyday—what’s the actual content of that message? What is it exactly that I need to keep reminding myself of?

If God has saved you—if he’s given you the faith to believe, and you’re now a Christian; if you’ve transferred trust from your own accomplishments and abilities to Christ’s accomplishment on behalf of sinners—then here’s the good news. In the phraseology of Colossians 1, it’s simply this: You’ve already been qualified, you’ve already been delivered, you’ve already been transferred, you’ve already been redeemed, you’ve already been forgiven.

It’s been widely accepted that in the original language of Greek, Ephesians 1:3-14 is one long sentence. Paul becomes so overwhelmed by the sheer greatness and immensity and size and sweetness of God’s amazing grace, that he doesn’t even take a breath. He writes in a state of controlled ecstasy. And at the heart of his elation is the idea of “union with Christ.” We have been blessed, he writes, “in Christ with every spiritual blessing” (1:3): we’ve been chosen (v. 4), graced (v. 6), redeemed (v. 7), reconciled (v. 10), destined (v. 11), and sealed forever (v. 13). The everything we need and long for, Paul says, we already possess if we are in Christ. He has already sweepingly secured all that our hearts deeply crave.

We no longer need to rely, therefore, on the position, the prosperity, the promotions, the preeminence, the power, the praise, the passing pleasures, or the popularity that we’ve so desperately pursued for so long.

Day by day, what we must do practically can be experienced only as we come to a deeper understanding of what we are positionally—a deeper understanding of what’s already ours in Christ.

I used to think that growing as a Christian meant I had to somehow go out and obtain the qualities and attitudes I was lacking. To really mature, I needed to find a way to get more joy, more patience, more faithfulness, and so on.

Then I came to the shattering realization that this isn’t what the Bible teaches, and it isn’t the gospel. What the Bible teaches is that we mature as we come to a greater realization of what we already have in Christ. The gospel, in fact, transforms us precisely because it’s not itself a message about our internal transformation, but Christ’s external substitution. We desperately need an Advocate, Mediator, and Friend. But what we need most is a Substitute. Someone who has done for us and secured for us what we could never do and secure for ourselves.

The hard work of Christian growth, therefore, is to think less of me and my performance and more of Jesus and his performance for me. Ironically, when we focus mostly on our need to get better we actually get worse. We become neurotic and self-absorbed. Preoccupation with my effort over God’s effort for me makes me increasingly self-centered and morbidly introspective.

You could state it this way: Sanctification is the daily hard work of going back to the reality of our justification–receiving Christ’s words, “It is finished” into new and deeper parts of our being every day, into our rebellious regions of unbelief.  It’s going back to the certainty of our objectively secured pardon in Christ and hitting the refresh button a thousand times a day. Or, as Martin Luther so aptly put it in his Lectures on Romans, “To progress is always to begin again.” Real spiritual progress,  in other words, requires a daily going backwards.

In her book Because He Loves Me, Elyse Fitzpatrick writes about how important remembrance is in Christian growth:

One reason we don’t grow in ordinary, grateful obedience as we should is that we’ve got amnesia; we’ve forgotten that we are cleansed from our sins. In other words, ongoing failure in sanctification (the slow process of change into Christlikeness) is the direct result of failing to remember God’s love for us in the gospel. If we lack the comfort and assurance that his love and cleansing are meant to supply, our failures will handcuff us to yesterday’s sins, and we won’t have faith or courage to fight against them, or the love for God that’s meant to empower this war. If we fail to remember our justification, redemption, and reconciliation, we’ll struggle in our sanctification.

Christian growth, in other words, does not happen first by behaving better, but believing better–believing in bigger, deeper, brighter ways what Christ has already secured for sinners.

Preach that to yourself everyday and you’ll increasingly experience the scandalous freedom that Jesus paid so dearly to secure for you.

  • Steven Gilchrist says:

    I am constantly encouraged by your posts. They convict and encourage me. May the gospel echo in our minds daily

  • Fernando says:

    Thank you Tullian for this teaching. I’ve also watched the “Jesus+Nothing=Everything” message on the resurgence website, and it really affected me, it’s a liberating true and I’m fighting to relay on it, I want to relay on it, need to. It’s God’s design. Tomorrow I’m preaching this message based on yours. I pray that God will use me tomorrow. I follow you on twitter and also enjoy you comments and toughts. Greetings from Argentina. God continue blessing you.

  • Fernando says:

    This is “spiritual adrenaline” for me, and makes me want to run in this life without fear.

  • Jim says:

    “Preach that to yourself everyday and you’ll increasingly experience the scandalous freedom that Jesus paid so dearly to secure for you.”

    IF you’re “elect” of course.

  • Mike says:

    You communicate very well the truth of the gospel something quite frankly sounds to good to be true, but what I see in most of the teachings and writings of those in the “neo-reformed-Calvinist movement” is always a circling back to law. I find myself elated by the glorious truth and implications of the Gospel but inevitably the end result has to be “obedience” “law keeping” “if you are sinning” etc., I have stopped reading Ryle, Owen, and the like, if they’re correct I’m not saved. It’s not good news to me if the Gospel ultimately has to lead to law keeping and by law keeping I mean all the implied actions, performance of a “true christian” and such involved. I feel great joy as I evolve in my understanding of the Gospel and you help that, I cant stop thinking and reading about the Gospel but I have to wonder if I’m deceived as the greats like Ryle make me feel. Thanks for the tweets, Mike

  • Tullian Tchividjian says:

    Hi Mike,

    I don’t think either Ryle or Owen (two of my favorites) would want you to feel like the gospel requires anything from you. What they do, however, is show you what life begins to look like when you’re heart has been gripped by the radical, unconditional pardon of grace. In context, Ryle was writing to a generation racked with false assurance (the kind we read about in Matthew 7:21-23). He writes to show that real Christianity goes beyond mental assent and religious practice. And this quote from Owen may redeem him for you: “Holiness is nothing but the implanting, writing, and realizing of the gospel in our souls.”

    And what is the gospel? Not my work for Jesus, but Jesus’ work for me. In other words, holiness happens, not by looking at ourselves but by looking at Jesus.

    I hope this helps, my friend!

  • Chris Frick says:

    I’ve read this post three times now (I’ve seen it posted before!).
    It screams gospel and calms my soul every time.
    Thanks for rooting my joy deeper in my loving Savior!

  • Pamela M. says:

    Wow! Praise God. I love this! Thank you.

  • Mark says:

    Thanks Tullian! I always know that I can get regrounded in the gospel by coming to your blog. I thank God for you and the grace given to and through you. May you be richly blessed in your ministry.

  • […] Read… What To Preach To Yourself Everyday – Tullian Tchividjian. […]

  • Angie Battle says:

    Thank you, Pastor Tullian, for taking such care to craft your words in a way that gives honor to the glory of the Gospel. I hear in this post a heartbeat in awe of, affection for, and surrender to the work of Jesus to have us as His very own.

    It sounds just like the heartbeat of Him who bought us.

    Blessings to you and your family.

  • The call to remember what God has done for us everyday for our daily sanctification reminds me of this passage in 2 Peter, whereby Paul says,

    “For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.”

    We lack these qualities because we have forgotten that we’ve been cleansed from our former sins.

  • Walter Flach says:

    Thank you Pastor Tullian. My heart and my mind rejoice when hearing and meditating on the gospel truth. My prayer is that multitudes of pastors may dare to leave Mt. Sinai for Mt. Zion, for good. My pastor however, tells me literally: The law separates those who know Christ and those who don’t! Or, the law guides us in our sanctification! Or, if you don’t keep the commandments you are not a Christian, it is as simple as that!
    What would you respond to him?

  • […] If you’re not familiar with what exactly to preach to yourself (or if you are), here is a good article by Tullian Tchividjian. The hard work of Christian growth, therefore, is to think less of me and my performance and more […]

  • Tullian Tchividjian says:

    Hi Walter,

    In one sense the law does separate those who know Christ from those who don’t. We are not saved apart from the law; rather we are saved “in Christ” who perfectly kept the law for us because we couldn’t keep it.

    This article might be helpful for you to read:

    And yes, God’s law does show us what a sanctified life looks like but the law has no power to sanctify.

    This article might be helpful for you to read on that:

    As far as the idea that if you don’t keep God’s commandments you are not a Christian, well, I can’t go there. Obviously obedience to God demonstrates that you’ve been saved. But obedience to God does not generate salvation. We break God’s law every day in a thousand different ways. If my standing with God were based on my obedience I’d be in big trouble. Thankfully, my relationship to God is grounded in Christ’s obedience for me.

    The law serves us by making us thankful for Jesus when we break it and serves us by showing how to love God and others. Only the gospel empowers us to keep the law. And when we fail to keep it, the gospel comforts by reminding us that God’s infinite approval does not depend on our keeping of the law, but Christ’s keeping of the law on our behalf. The gospel serves the Christian every day and in every way by reminding us that God’s love for us does not get bigger when we obey or smaller when we disobey. And guess what? This makes me want to obey him more, not less! As Spurgeon wrote, “When I thought God was hard, I found it easy to sin; but when I found God so kind, so good, so overflowing with compassion, I smote upon my breast to think that I could ever have rebelled against One who loved me so, and sought my good.”

    I hope this helps.

  • Walter Flach says:

    Thanks Pastor Tullian for your comments. I couldn’t agree more with what you said. By the way I am a Swiss residing currently in Geneva. In 1999 and 2000 I was living in Fort Lauderdale visiting CRPC and taking EE courses. Your sermons and comments are a source of spiritual growth and great blessings to me and I hope and pray that one day I will be back in CRPC!

  • Tammy Bennetch says:

    Thank you for the reminder. I will read and re read this daily!! I know that this will help so many others!!! I thank you for allowing God to use you to encourage others!!

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  • […] Already redeemed by what he already did. […]

  • Grant says:

    Tullian, this is part omitted in the original piece that I need reminding of, but still confuses me:

    “The gospel serves the Christian every day and in every way by reminding us that God’s love for us does not get bigger when we obey or smaller when we disobey. And guess what? This makes me want to obey him more, not less!”

    So, Christians would/could live lawlessly under false pretense that we need do nothing, because Jesus has done all for us?

    My question is this: If it is (simply) because of what Christ accomplished on the cross, the sheer magnitude of that, that makes me want to obey (which is essentially another way of saying to be/do better, right?) then that is the dichotomy, because now we’re back at the start, trying to be/do better…


    Love your Tweets BTW :)

  • Grant says:

    I think the Lord just answered my question.

    Is it because we’re no longer ‘obligated’ by the Law to obey (because Jesus fulfilled that), which is now why we would ‘want’ to obey more. Not because of the Law (what we must do), but because of the New Covenant (what Christ has done)?

  • Thanks for this wonderful reminder. Oh, how easy we forget!

  • Pam says:

    “Like!!!!” Thanks for the encouraging reminder.

  • Ashley says:

    My favorite line: “What the Bible teaches is that we mature as we come to a greater realization of what we already have in Christ.”

    Very encouraging article. Thanks for sharing :)

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  • David says:

    Pastor Tullian,

    What a wonderful reminder, thank you. As I wrestle with the implications of the gospel, I have a question. How does genuine repentance and Godly sorrow over sin such as expressed in Psalm 51 play out in the life of a believer? I feel a tension between the Godly sorrow and repentance expressed in Psalm 51 and yet the knowledge of our position secured through Christ. How should repentance play out in a believers life?

  • […] Here’s a great blog post by him on Preaching the Gospel to Yourself. […]

  • the Fallout says:

    Great word! Shared this with the core team of the ministry I’m helping lead here in Fargo, ND, and it provoked some great discussion of the necessity of a whole-life gospel, and not just a gospel that is fulfilled in a once-upon-a-time decision.

  • Jamie says:

    This is so much of what the Lord has been teaching me. Thank you so much for writing this. I would like to post your article on my blog.

  • YES! We deal so often with people (ourselves included) who do not stand in their identity in Christ. The evil one knows that he can not snatch us from His Hand, but if he can lie to us about our true identity, he can cripple us, render us ineffective.

  • Randolph says:

    Pastor Tullian, I’m always encouraged by your messages and posts! I’ve got a question: If we are already forgiven in Christ, why must we ask for God’s forgiveness over and over again? Isn’t our constant prayer for forgiveness a lack of faith for what Christ has done? It seems like when we do this, we’re entering into some kind of sacrificial system again or something.

  • John says:

    Pastor Tullian,
    Your teaching on the application of the Gospel has perhaps been the most enlightening and helpful I have ever heard. However, I think the most challenging aspect for me personally is encapsulated in your statement that “If God has saved you—if he’s given you the faith to believe, and you’re now a Christian; if you’ve transferred trust from your own accomplishments and abilities to Christ’s accomplishment on behalf of sinners—then here’s the good news.” Obviously, this is at the core of the reformed theological position on God’s sovereignty, and it has created the greatest amount of doubt in my own mind as to whether or not He has granted me such heart changing belief. To know and experience such belief (i.e, assurance of salvation) is the question/concern that most occupies my thoughts and fears.

  • Mike says:

    Thank you for responding to my comment it was not expected. I watched your “Im addicted to the Gospel” video and was incredibly blessed and encouraged. My problem is I am most definitely self absorbed,and not enough Gospel absorbed. But in my comment that “the Gospel always seems to come back to law” I wanted to give you an example of what I mean. In Jerry Briges’ book Transforming Grace he compares the relationship between OT law and the NT relation to law. He makes a comparison on pg 133 of my copy, stating in the OT “The law commands and gives no enabling power for obedience. In the NT the Spirit enables us to obey the laws commands” Now obviously Im pulling one brief quote out of a book that has a profound impact on my thinking as all his writtings have so please dont get me wrong but that is what I mean by circling back to law. Either Im not obligated to the law or I still am I can never seem to reconcile this thought. But it doesnt keep me from digging to understand this. It is not good news if the fruit and proof of my election, salvation is the enabling power to keep the law, or whatever else the Lord commands,”he who loves me keeps my commandments” if we do not keep His commandments does that mean we are not truly saved. Thanks Mike

  • Mitchell Hammonds says:

    Hey Mike,
    I have loved learning to differentiate between law and gospel. But you have ‘hit the nail on the head’ so to speak. With all the instruction about freedom from the law in the gospel I’m excited. But then almost in the same breath it is stated that we must obey the commandments of Christ(law I’m assuming)… I guess to have confidence that we are in Christ.
    Knowing that I’m free from the law does not make me want to go out and commit murder or adultery and this is plainly evident to anyone. More difficult however is being commanded to love God “totally” & our neighbor as self… which we never do… at least if we’re honest.
    So my question is “How much obedience is sufficient to satisfy my confidence of truly being in Christ?”
    As a side note you might try searching on this website for Rod Rosenbladt (a Lutheran) who has much to say on our dilemma. Dr. Rosenbladt’s solution to these questions are quite refreshing my friend.

  • mike says:

    One day at a time is something we should preach everyday!

  • Mike says:

    Hey Mitchell,
    Thank you for your response I have been struggling for years over these questions, as I have been exposed to Reformed thought, simply because I know really who I am, no I’m not in adultery or any “scandalous sin” or trying to justify sin in my life as was suggested by one pastor when i asked these types of questions, but my heart often, well, it is full of all forms of sin! And I have used perceived liberty as license!
    When I speak of law I include all requirements imposed which include Old and New Testament expectations of a Christian and that would include Moses, Jesus, Lordship Gospel, Paul, Peter, Calvin, Piper etc. Does the Gospel cover my failure or any persons failure in these areas who claim to be a Christian? Or are we deceived and will be in for a big surprise when we stand before God? Forgive me for my obsessive rambling I’m simply presenting questions that for me personally are going to be answered! Pastor Tullians post is a glorious articulation of the Gospel and fills my heart with exaltation and joy and I beleive it includes all the failures we experience as Christians. His Spirit bares witness with my Spirit that I am His and thats all I need I will not examine my obedience or diobediance because there is more disobey than obey in me. Thanks Mike

  • Brandon holt says:

    This was the best simplistic article of “Christian growth” I have ever read. I really needed that!!

  • Kevin says:

    Mike (and others),

    Your comments struck a chord with me. Having “grown up” in the Reformed tradition, I totally agree with you when you say that “most of the teachings and writings… always [seem to do] a circling back to law”. This too was my frustration as I studied what I believed was very “solid” teaching about the Gospel. In a nutshell, Jesus’s work at cross would be boldly proclaimed in one breath and then a subtle (sometimes not so subtle) pressure for performance — whether it was prayer, evangelism, the pursuit of holiness, etc. — would be proclaimed in the other. While these “disciplines” CAN be good, all of this left me ultimately feeling like MY performance was the key to pleasing God and was the road that led to fellowship with Him. I have since come to see that these teachings, while well intentioned, were really a mixture of law with grace and, consequently, were NOT really the Gospel at all. I believe this is what Paul was warning against in Gal 3:

    “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?”

    I acted foolishly for many years as a Christian and now know that “God give[s] you his Spirit and work[s] miracles among you [not] by the works of the law, [but] by your believing what you heard”. I believe the Church, Reformers included, still do not understand this and, frankly, are “bewitched”. As Gospel-centric as they may claim to be, they very subtly add to the Gospel and do not proclaim a righteousness that comes solely by faith alone.

    This may be heretical to post on the Gospel Coalition website, but the teacher I have found that comes closest to understanding this “mixture” is a pastor in Singapore named Joseph Prince. Warning… he comes from the “word of faith” and charismatic tradition, so it may be hard for people from the Reformed tradition to take him seriously. However, I believe if you can look past some cultural/theological biases and slow to judge him as a health/wealth/antinomianist, his message is some of the most grace-filled and, dare I say, Gospel/Jesus-centered teaching I have ever found.

  • Grant says:

    Great comment Kevin. You summed up many of my own thoughts also. I also agree with your opinion of Joseph Prince. Amen.

  • […] not to look more to ourselves and our own wisdom. The solution is actually to look more at Christ. Tullian Tchividjian put it best: The hard work of Christian growth, therefore, is to think less of me and my performance and more of […]

  • […] If you’re not familiar with what exactly to preach to yourself (or if you are), here is a good article by Tullian Tchividjian. The hard work of Christian growth, therefore, is to think less of me and my performance and more […]

  • Mike says:

    Hey Kevin,
    Thanks Kevin! I’ve been listening to Law and Gospel by Rod Rosenbladt, a Lutheran scholar, and I have to say he indeed answers some of these questions. Have you heard of him? My conditioning is from an extreme Charismatic-Pentecostal back ground which tends very strongly toward legalism and Spirit aided “victory” and the such although I am still a Charismatic I have determined over the years to reevaluate many of those leanings and keep my focus on more Reformed type thought which is much more substantive and life giving. However it is interesting that you would mention Joseph Prince, I do know of him only from seeing him one morning about 4am on tv and as I was deciphering his teaching through my Reformed filters thought well there really is not much difference in his views of the Gospel he had a very clear message of salvation by grace alone through faith alone and the on going struggle with sin, and then I happened coincidentaly on one of his books at a book store and skimmed it, and out side of some miner things, “to me” found it to be sound and Gospel centered, although it was not an in depth reading, I did not buy it because of his strong Charismatic leanings but I may check it out. But yea you’re probably right a guy like Joseph Prince may not go over to well here, but if I may use some old Charismatic terminology the Lord I believe is bringing a “Prophetic Word” to all of Christendom and He’s using the Neo-Calvanists to do it and that is a truer and more clear understanding of the Gospel of Jesus. It is amazing to me that I could be a Christian for so long and still be mining the depths of the Gospel. Pastor Tullian is right when he refers to being “myopic” about the Gospel. Thanks Mike

  • Kevin says:

    Hi Mike,
    Thank you so much for your thoughtful response and for your suggestion. I just finished listening to a lecture by Dr. Rod Rosenbladt and found myself often saying, “Amen! Wow, I’ve thought the same exact thing!” So, thank you, for showing me an example of hope that the Gospel can be proclaimed in the Church — and in the Lutheran church, nonetheless! To me, he touched upon the issue that I can believe is at the crux of living a life dead to the law (Rom. 7:4) and alive in Christ (Rom. 6:11) — our (imputed) righteousness in Christ. Personally, I believe if the church truly becomes a “ministry of righteousness” it will bring unseen abounding glory to Jesus (2 Cor 3:9).

    I also wanted to let you know that I totally understood when you shared your experience with an “extreme Charismatic-Pentecostal back ground which tends very strongly toward legalism and Spirit aided “victory””. After going from one end of the spectrum (Reformed, Presbyterian) to the other (Charismatic, “word of faith”), it kind of amazed me how each can create a form of legalism while accusing the other of legalism! Honestly, I am very thankful for that experience but it can also be disheartening. I believe, however, that Jesus’ grace and imputed righteousness can save us from any dichotomy. I also understand your reservations about Joseph Prince. I, too, have some minor issues with his teaching but I still believe I have not found a better exposition of how to live the post-salvation Christian life…. Even if is a bit simplistic and too culturally “Charismatic” for me at times.

    Since this discussion can probably go on and on and I don’t want to monopolize the conversation, if you (or anyone else following these comments) would like to talk more about this (or meet personally) you can email me at

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  • Dennis Muse says:

    Tullian, loved all your post about the Gospel and our Exalted Identity, much need and timely messages for me being that my life is in life & death crisis at this time. God is using your words greatly in me.

    I would like to ask you regarding preaching the gospel to ourselves, daily as you and others have said. If you could ether email to me or post, a sample of the gospel you preach to yourself daily. A sample of what Christians should be preaching to themselves daily as you recommended. I would love to see that, to prime the pump within me. I would love to hear your version of the gospel that we should be tell to ourselves every day.

    Thanks for your great post, and your passion for Jesus,His gospel and the body of Christ.

  • Mike says:

    A healthy Law/Gospel distinction will emphasize that justification and sanctification are distinct but inseparable in the life of a believer. Spirit-powered obedience to God’s commands are the fruit of saving faith; without a hatred for sin and a growth in obedience, my assurance of salvation will wain. God is faithful to give the elect the grace of repentance and a love for Christ and his commands. I would recommend the chapters On Saving Faith, Repentance Unto Life, and the Law of God in the Westminster Confession. We are not saved by works but we will not be vindicated on the last day without them! Both antinomian and legalistic teaching are false-gospels. Blessings in Christ

  • […] increasingly experience the scandalous freedom that Jesus paid so dearly to secure for you. What To Preach To Yourself Everyday is a post from: Tullian […]

  • Dennis Hahn says:

    “It is finished” was spoken before Jesus even died. Therefore it couldn’t have been salvation. Old Testament and His duty to live without sin was finished. Now he could die as the perfect lamb. Study the feasts which reveal salvation and how it is accomplished. The blood of the lamb is on the door, Jesus, not the people. His death brought salvation to the whole world, Jn 1:29, Rom 5:18 and many more. His death reconciled the world,Jn 3:17, 2 Cor 5:18, and more, where we now can make a choice. Jesus said those who don’t read and study scripture are dead, Jn 6:53-54. God said he would write the law on our hearts but that takes knowing it. As it is written we become like the word, Jesus and gain a relationship. Dennis Hahn,

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  • […] read a blog last year by Tullian Tchividjian that hit me straight in the face—and by God’s grace, I have […]

  • Austin says:

    Pastor T, I just want you to know that God used this blog to change my life last year. I occasionally come back to this blog–to read for my own sake or to share with others. I finished your book “Jesus+Nothing=Everything” over Christmas break, and i thoroughly enjoyed it! (I even noticed that this blog was an excerpt from your book haha!). In fact, this blog and your books were some of the main reasons of why I applied to the internship at CRPC for this summer–and I’m more than privileged to say I’ll be serving as an intern this summer at your church! Cant wait! Thanks again for your influence on my life!

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  • Shelby Biggs says:

    Thank you for this article. I just prayed last night for God to show me how to preach to myself after watching a John Piper video and the You can Change book. I was recently born again but am no stranger to the religion of Christianity. Years of legalism in bible college/church taught me the wrong way to use the gospel. This is very different to me but I know it is right. Pray for me as I learn to watch my heart and use the gospel the way God intended it.

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  • […] remember Tullian Tchividjian being honest about this struggle with Christian growth in his own life. He said, “I used to think that growing as a Christian meant I had to somehow go out and […]

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