If we are honest, we ask – Why are relationships so hard and what can be done? Paul Tripp from Liberate Conference 2012

Photo: Stu Kerns took this, CO, 2012

Liberate Conference 2012 – Paul Tripp, Freedom in Relationships

Intro. Why are relationships so difficult? Why is there so much misunderstanding, disappointment, hurt, failed expectations, confusion, and chaos? What is the source of our disfunction? What can be done about it? Is there any hope?

Understanding the right diagnosis of a problem or illness is critical in applying the cure that will bring healing. The Bible is good at diagnosing our problem – good diagnosis then good cure – bad diagnosis then bad remedy to make it worse. What is our problem in relationships, and what is the cure?

The big idea: I am my biggest problem in relationships, and Christ who is redeeming all things to himself through his grace is my only cure.

I. The Problem

A. The DNA of sin is selfishness.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 says, 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

Sin is self-obsessed and claustrophobic. I want… I want… I want… I want…

Verse 15 says that I am a sinner and apart from grace, I live for myself. I live for myself even inside my good deeds to others which are to validate me and / or somehow obligate God to me, etc.

B. Sin is antisocial at its very core.

We were hardwired and created to live upward and outward lives.

C. My sin will dehumanize all around me – vehicles or obstacles.

The opposite would be objects of affections.

The summary logic of the problem:
IF the DNA of sin is selfishness,
IF sin is antisocial at its very core,
IF sin dehumanizes all those around me,
THEREFORE I am my greatest relational problem. The problem is insside not outside of me.

II. The cure

In grace, Christ came to save you from you. This is good news since we are our own relational problem.

Three ways the this grace of Christ liberates us for close relationship:

A. Grace frees me from the slavery of my own righteousness. I can’t afford to be wrong to be okay with me. Instead, by grace, I can have the humilty of approachability.

The sad state of our relationships today is that we relate by not really relating. The truth is I am a mess and can be honest about this because I have another’s righteousness as muy rest!
I can have the courage of loving honesty. I can tell you things that are helpful not tell you things in such a way to better serve me with the result. My well being is not based on your aceptance of me.

B. Grace frees me from having to be in control. I am not a king of a kingdom of one but rather I have been loving placed in the gracious kingdom of the most loving father-king ever and I am his adopted child! Jesus gives his kingdom to children. The kingdom has the intrinsic treasure of God’s riches not the jail of me in my sin being in a kingdom of one.

C. Grace frees me from the bondage to unrealstic expectations. Apart from grace, I am going to seek horizontally from the people in my life what I can only get vertically. I actually ask of other people or of other things to be my own personal savior – “give me meaning to my life…make me feel good about myself…make me happy…make my life matter…make me fulfilled… Ironically, this can never lead to romance in marriage or closeness in other relationships but only dissapointment and hurt.

II Peter 1:3 says that God through Christ has given us everything we need for life AND godliness. As Tullian says, everything that I need I have already received from my Father so I am free to give to you. This is the now-ism of the gospel. We have received now all we need in Christ for life with its meaning and godliness. Only in Christ not in you or things will I find hope, identity, acceptance, and filling the “pocks” that most can’s see on my soul.


There are still places in my life with my indwelling sin that I tend to do these three bondages: slave to my own righteousness, slave to strive to be in control, and looking to you to save me. I am free and being freed! This is just like the African Americans in the Civil Rights movement when the proclimation was made they were freed from being slaves and full citizens, there were those in the establishment that kept them from feeling that for many years but it did not change the reality of what was proclaimed. This also is seen in the fear of the Israelites of Pharoah as they left Egypt – they were freed by God and no longer slaves but had fear he would take them back by force.

We are free and being freed!

Three helpful payers each morning as you wake up: Lord, I am in desperate need of help; in grace, please send your helpers; and grant me the grace when the help comes to accept it in all humility. Amen.

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