Free To Be Fallen

Covenant Theological Seminary sat down with me recently to talk about my book Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free.

Their specific question was, “How can church leaders cultivate a safe place to talk about suffering?” I hope this short video will be both helpful and comforting to you.

  • Framy Tangel says:

    Totally agree with you pastor.. This is the 1 that need to be known by every person who called Christian..
    God bless you!

  • Perhaps the greater challenge is to shepherd the fellowship in a way that guides conversation, comfort and counsel (in the many settings of common life) so that these verbal exchanges reflect gospel-centered reality. This will likely require some kind of entrance instruction for those who desire share in the life of a congregation. The pulpit ministry sets the tone but other teachers and small group leaders must be on message.

    I think what you’re saying essentially is a reminder that communion is rich and full when it happens among those who are poor in spirit. Chest-beating, mercy-pleading, self-confessed sinners enjoy the fellowship at the feast with deep awe at God’s underserved kindness lavished on them.

    I think this concern was the primary reason behind the writing the book of Romans. Many mistakenly think that the purpose of Paul’s letter we call “Romans” was to expound the doctrine of justification by faith. Instead, the vigorous presentation of this doctrine (which is the gospel) was to promote and protect gospel-based fellowship. I explain this here (if interested):

  • John Dunn says:

    So grace sets us free to be fallen and naked?

    What need then did Adam have of God graciously removing his self-righteous law-worked fig leaves (the old man) ang giving him a new covering to wear (the new man . . . Christ himself)?

    If grace sets us free to be fallen, God should have simply removed Adam’s self-made covering and set him free to worship God and run around naked, taking comfort in his unclothed shame all the while.

    Grace sets us free to put off Adam and put on Christ, to live Christ, to be filled with the mind of Christ, to learn Christ, to be filled with His Spirit.

    This formulation just sounds like re-packaged Puritan nomianism without all the miserable narcissistic self-focus: instead of lamenting your law-exposed sin, you just rest in it . . . and do not come into the full liberty of grace which declares that your sin is cancelled because the Law is fully cancelled. Where there is no Law there is no sin.

    But sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no Law. (Rom 5:13)

    For the Law brings wrath, but where there is no Law there is no transgression. (Rom 4:15)

    Abolishing the Law of Commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two. (Eph 2:15).

    Christ cancelled the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. (Col 2:14)

    Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead. (Rom 7:4)

    Grace is the extinghuishment and removal of the Law and its curse from us, not the magnification of it.

    Adam’s Fall was a tragic plunge from God’s perfect Sabbath Rest of Creation *into* the condemning “covenant of works”. It was his sin at grasping to become like the God-Man (Christ) that gave him the Tree’s cursed exposure to Law . . . to the divine knowledge of “good and evil”. Adam grasped at Law knowledge. He grasped at becoming “like God”, like Christ himself. He grasped at the divine right to become the incarnate Righteous One, and to rule with the righteous judgment of the Law – a right that was only reserved for the true God-Man, the firstborn heir (John 5:22-27, Rev 5:2-9).

    Adam was under no legal obligation to earn or work for anything in the Garden. He was at perfect rest with God. His obedience was to be an obedience of “faith” not of works. Through the Tree of Knowlege, Adam was to believe in the Christ – that He alone was worthy to become the incarnate God-Man. But Adam put forth his hand to steal the firstborn Son’s rightful “work” of ruling with perfect judgment. Adam left his Rest, left off believing, and chose work, chose Law, chose earning in his own strength, and grasped at Christ’s inheritance!

    Through the Serpent’s subtlety, Adam grasped at Christ’s heel in the very same way that Jacob grasped at Esau’s heel and later usurped his rightful “firstborn” inheritance. But the Seed of the Woman crushed the head of the Serpent that was biting at his heel!!

    Christ is the “Firstborn of all Creation” (Col 1:15), who was the Word that was with God in the beginning (John 1:1-3). His rightful “firstborn” inheritance was usurped and stolen by Adam in his Fall. Adam gained the Law and its secret knowledge of “good and evil” . . . but it became a condemning curse of sin and death to him. He became “like God” in knowing good and evil, but it deceived him, it slew him.

    “For sin (the Serpent), seizing an opportunity through the commandment (Tree of Knowledge), deceived me and through it killed me.” (Rom 7:11)

    Only those who see themselves as dead to the Law, through Christ, will see themselves as dead to sin and restored to Sabbath rest . . . gloriously alive, not to their own Adamic nakedness, but alive to Christ and filled with His righteousness.

    Christ has come to set us free from the Law, in order that we might receive a *new* one . . . “the law of the Spirit of life”. This *new* eschatological law “has set you free in Christ Jesus from the Law of sin and death.” (Rom 8:2)

    And this *new* law, the Spirit, sets us gloriously free to serve God in the new way of Christ, and not to wallow in the old Law-bound Adam.

    “But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.” (Rom 7:6)

    This is liberating Grace!

  • John Dunn says:

    This Adamic story is the story of the Prodigal Son – we’ll name him Adam.

    Adam lives in his Father’s Garden, resting in all the provision that his father supplied in super-abundance. His heart grows tired of this rest (faith). He dispises his Father’s work, his father’s goodness, and his father’s all-sufficiency. He usurps the inheritance, and travels to the far-off country of Sin. The inheritance vanishes like a vapour. And Adam discovers that he is hopelessly enslaved to hard-labour (the Law). The harder he works, the more enslaved and empoverished he becomes. He stands dying and condemned under the Law’s power in the pig muck. He is filthy and foul and disgusting.

    Adam remembers the lavish goodness of his Father. He repents and turns toward his Father in faith.

    The Father, in turn, runs toward him. The Father exchanges Adam’s filthy law-garments for the true robe of righteousness (that of Christ). The law is fully extinguished and the magnificence of Grace is lavished upon Adam. He has inherited a righteousness completely apart from the Law (Rom 3:21-22). The Father’s signet ring of sealing (Spirit) is placed upon his finger (his heart).

    In the shadows, the other son, Israel, stands despising this grace-lavished Adam. He was a law-keeping Pharisee. He worked very hard attempting to earn everything from his Father, not realizing that it was already freely provided. All he had to do was rest and believe. Instead, he loved the concept of “just-deserts”. His self-righteous law-keeping hardened his heart and kept him from loving the Father and inheriting Grace. The Law had blinded him to redeeming Grace!

    This story teaches us that we throw off the condemning and enslaving yoke of the Law and its works through faith in the Father’s provision . . . namely the Son of God.

  • G & N says:

    True, what a great starting point for believers & continuing point for believers in all times of one’s life. I love knowing that the Gospel is for Christians too and exactly what our hope/faith is built on daily.

    The finished work of Christ completes and empowers us each day by the power of the Holy Spirit – to believe, and live, so that even this truth is “new” and amazing after hearing it many times.

    have a blessed peaceful day!

  • Rebecca Erwin (@frognparis) says:

    It is true that we need to remember we are in recovery of our fallen state because of God’s sovereignty, Jesus’ obedience and Holy Spirit’s counsel. What is often missed in this “theology of sin” is the true freedom in grace. That all of this was done because “God first loved me.”

    In my walk with the Loving Creator, I have come to understand the warm arms that hold me, the blood that freed me and the presence that guides me is motivated by an unbelievable love. As we fall in love with the Almighty, the natural process and response is worship. To be in relationship and participate in communion. In love there is no fear. In love there is no condemnation. As I experience this love, I am therefore freed to express it to those around me.

    Love, not sin should be the focus of our walk with God. The whole trinity: who is the same yesterday, today and forever.

  • John Dunn says:

    What did Jesus’ family and friends think of him . . . that he never once went to the temple to offer up a sacrifice, to lay his hand on the head of a lamb as its throat was slit?

    How glorious a thought, that his perfectness under the Law allowed him to go free from the burdens of the Law, but made a way for law-laden sinners to lay their Law burden on his head as his blood was spilled?

    There was only one sacrifice that Jesus ever kept. It was during the Passover feast when he offered up himself as God’s perfect Lamb. Up until then, we do not read anywhere of him ever offering up a sacrifice for his own sins or ceremonial uncleanness.

    He did not have to bear the Law’s burden for himself in order that he would bear our Law burnden away for us. Nailing it to His cross. And sending us away as completely unburdened and free as he was!

  • […] I saw this clip from Tullian Tchividjian, it so resonated with some of the things that bothered me regarding how […]

  • James says:

    I know this is off the beaten path of the present presentation but I just wanted to share this with you because after watching your latest sermon “Because…therefore pt1,I found myself later listening to a sermon by John MacArthur another great teacher of interest to me and as …would have it in his study on First Peter chapter 4 and verses 7 through 11, let me read them to you for the setting as it may be of interest to you as it was me. “The Christians Duty in a Hostile World”. The end of all things is at hand; therefore be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. Above all keep fervent in your love for one another because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint, as each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, let him speak as it were the utterances of God; whoever serves, let him do so as by the strength which God supplies so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever, amen. This lines up perfectly with your view for the Christian Horizontily but I’m not sure your view on this part does. Let me show you why. Second Corinthians chapter 5 verse 9, “Therefore also we have as our ambition whether at home or absent to be pleasing to Him.” If you’re a Christian, that is true of your life. Did you hear that? Whether you’re at home or absent, your desire is to be pleasing to Him. That should be underlined as the mark of a true Christian, you want to please Christ. If you don’t want to please Christ, then that’s evidence that the new life is not in you. So we want to please Christ. Is there a difference of opinion your sermon and this statement.I’m probably not reading into correctly. Tobe pleasing to Him and to please Him could be the culprit in my stumbling depending on what motive your looking at.? Thanks Tullian

  • Once again…John Dunn…this makes good sense…squares nicely with the whole counsel of God.

  • David L. says:


    Are you planning on responding to Timothy Kauffman’s criticism of your writings in his ‘Sanctification, Half Full: The Myopic Hermeneutic of the “Grace” Movement’?


  • Tullian Tchividjian says:

    Hi David!

    I don’t know who Timothy Kauffman is nor am I familiar with his criticism. But this might help:


  • […] Free to be Fallen – Tullian Tchividjian […]

  • revaggie says:

    Howdy Tullian,

    Could you elaborate a bit more on what you mean by you are free to be fallen? I think from the context you mean that you are free to acknowledge and admit you are broken, hurt person, but it wasn’t really clear from the video.

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