Foundation of a Healthy Soul


new building was constructed in our town not too long ago. It took a disproportionately long time to set the foundation properly. For months, there was just a big hole in the ground. However, once the foundation was set, the building’s exterior went up in a hurry.

Builders understand if the foundation is faulty—no matter how good the building materials, no matter how skilled the builder—the building is in jeopardy.

Your identity in Christ is the foundation of your soul. If we fail to integrate the things God has declared to be true about us into our daily lives, there will be cracks in the walls of our soul.

The cracks showed up in my life about five years into my marriage. The church we planted was growing; people were coming to faith in Christ, but my wife, Jen, no longer liked me. That painful reality caused me to realize my soul was out of alignment. I discovered that though I could articulate the truths of my identity in Christ, I often wasn’t living from that firm foundation, and it was impacting my relationships.

Hold on to Truth

Too often, the problem with our Christian lives is not that we don’t believe the right things; it is that we have not integrated those things into how we live. I realized I needed to cooperate with the Holy Spirit to repair the foundation of my soul.

According to Romans 8:16, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” When people give a testimony, they are telling about what they have seen, what they have heard, what they have experienced. The Spirit Himself has heard the Father declare you belong to Him and you are His beloved child. The Spirit has heard Jesus declare in the heavenly realms that you are purified by His shed blood. He is declaring to you, testifying to you, the things He has heard in heaven.

The problem is too often we don’t live out the things the Word and the Spirit declare to be true about who we are in Christ. We are not living from the foundation of those eternal truths.

Paul said, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom. 12:2). The pattern of this world is to prove our worth and our significance through things like performance, control, and pleasing people. Paul says we have to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We must actively participate in changing the way we think; no one changes the way he or she thinks passively.

John 8:31–32 is one of the most misquoted passages of Scripture. We say, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” But that is not what Jesus promised; He made an if/then promise. Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (emphasis added). We must hold on to the truth precisely when the lies of this world are vying for position at the center of our souls.

Let’s take a deeper look at the three main lies we must battle against.

The Performance Lie

One of the lies we sometimes conform to is the performance lie. Sometimes we feel good about ourselves if we are doing all the right things morally. But if we fall into an old sin pattern, we allow shame to control us and condemning self-talk to rule our minds. We may feel good about ourselves if we get all A’s on our report card or performance reviews, but the moment we get a bad grade or a bad review, we get defensive or we feel lousy about ourselves.

One day amid our marriage struggle, I gave a talk at church that did not go well. I came home and lay down on the couch feeling bad. I was a little depressed, and as I lay there, I heard the Spirit whisper to me, “Why are you lying on the couch?” I said, “Lord, I’m having a bad year. My wife doesn’t like me, and the talk went lousy.”

I heard the Spirit whisper, “Your value is not dependent upon your performance. I don’t love you more when you give your best talk or love you less when you give your worst talk. Now get off the couch and don’t lie here again if you give a bad talk.”

The Spirit testified to me about where my value comes from—not from my performance but from my Father’s love for me. I got off the couch and held on to the truth.

The Control Lie

Another lie that influences us is about control. We feel better if we can control outcomes, events, results, and even people around us. We feel better about ourselves when our ministry is fruitful or our kids are well behaved or the people under our supervision are thriving or our household is peaceful and our finances are plentiful. But when these things aren’t coming together the way we envisioned they should, we get angry, depressed, or hurt, and we start scrambling for control.

I am generally not given to controlling people, but when I can’t get the results I desire, I find that my anger levels rise, and my disappointment spikes. I am standing on this faulty foundation and am tempted to prove my worth by making something happen. Too often it leads to trying to make something happen in the flesh to prove my significance. I must pause and hold on to the truth that my value is not determined by people’s behaviors or the outcomes I desire.

The Father doesn’t love me any more when my circumstances are abounding or any less when my circumstances are barren. The Father loves me because He is love and I am His child.

The People-pleasing Lie

Sometimes we are influenced by the lie that we must please people to feel worthy. If people are happy and content with us, we feel good, but if people start complaining about us or get angry with us, we feel like we must win them over to feel peace. We are standing on a faulty foundation. Our value is not dependent upon whether certain people like us.

When I first started ministry, people would come up to me and say, “I need to talk to you.” I would make an appointment with them, and then the selftalk would begin. What did I say to Joe? I don’t remember saying anything to Joe that should have upset him. Well, there was that one thing, but he shouldn’t have been upset about that. I didn’t mean anything by that. I can’t believe he is upset about that.

Then I would have an imaginary conversation in my head. I would think about what Joe would say, how I  would respond, and I’d go back and forth in my mind. At the end of these imaginary conversations, Joe would be on his knees repenting for his wayward ways.

Too often when I got together with Joe, he would say, “I’m struggling with my marriage.” And I would think to myself, You’ve just wasted three days of my life! Of course, it wasn’t Joe who wasted my time; it was me. I was standing on the faulty platform of pleasing people, and when you stand on a lie you waste an enormous amount of emotional energy trying to keep that lie propped up. A lie will never set you free.

Valuable and Worthy

My value isn’t dependent upon whether I am performing to some standard or whether I am in control or whether certain people like me. My value was settled at the cross.

When Jesus died on the cross, He declared my worth for all eternity. In His eyes, I was worthy of His blood, His death, and His redeeming love. Amid my marriage struggle, I had to get to the place where I settled my value; I had to hold on to the truth. I needed to integrate my identity in Christ into the way I lived my life.

Jen and I engaged in a difficult conversation when she told me what she was upset about. My mind raced; my heart was anxious; my feelings were hurt; my posture was defensive. It felt like my worth was at stake. I had to learn to get alone with God and to hold on to the truth.

I meditated on Romans 8, Ephesians 1, and other passages that declared what God thought about me. Then I waited and listened for the testimony of the Spirit—that I was deeply loved and my value was settled at the cross.

Then I intentionally changed my self-talk. “I want Jen to like me; life is better when Jen likes me. But, even if Jen doesn’t like me, Jesus loves me, and that is enough for me. My value is settled at the cross.” Then I re-engaged in conversation with Jen, owning anything I could own in our relationship and holding on to the truth of who I am in Christ. It not only changed me, but it also changed our relationship.

No one can ever build a healthy life on a faulty foundation. We must hold on to the truth at the exact moment the lie is chipping away at the foundation of our worth. Only when you hold the truth can the truth set you free.


Compiled by Alliance Life staff

Soul Care

“You will never rise above your level of self-awareness. The things we deny about ourselves are the very things that deny us from the fullness of God.”

By Rob Reimer

(Carpenter’s Son Publishing, 2016)

Identity Matters

“The foundation of identity for a Christian must be this, and only this: ‘I am a child of God.’ That is the identifying mark of a secure life.”

By Terry Wardle

(Leafwood Publishers, 2017)

How's Your Soul

“Ultimately the stability and security and outcome of our souls need to be in the hands of someone who is bigger than our souls and greater than our turmoil.”

By Judah Smith

(Thomas Nelson, 2016)


4 responses to Foundation of a Healthy Soul

  1. “Too often, the problem with our Christian lives is not that we don’t believe the right things; it is that we have not integrated those things into how we live.” You nailed it. Thank you. I need to meditate on the powerful truths in this article.

  2. Thank you for these powerful reminders, Dr. Reimer. I was incredibly blessed to hear you speak at our retreat, and I am encouraged every day while reading your books.

  3. Rob I truly enjoyed and learned a lot. I’ve been struggling with almost all of that. Thank you for the reminder. Sometimes it’s not easy.

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