X-Ray Questions: Where do you find your refuge?

This week we continue our X-Ray Questions series, as we look at where you find your refuge. You can read the other posts in this series by clicking here.

X-Ray Question:

(10) Where do you find refuge, safety, comfort, escape, pleasure, security?

This is the question that Psalms invites. It digs out your false trusts, your escapisms that substitute for the Lord. Many “addictive behaviors” are helpfully addressed by this question. They often arise in the context of life’s troubles and pressures, and function as false refuges.


In what we take refuge becomes evident when troubles and pressures arise in our lives. The thing(s) we turn to in order to escape those pressures are our false refuge. When pressures arise at work, or in your marriage, to what do you turn for help? Do you turn to a mistress, a drink, or gambling? Do you lose yourself in your work hoping to avoid the situation by working late? Do you let the pressure build until you burst in uncontrollable anger? Do you begin to abuse an illegal substance like marijuana or cocaine hoping that it will relieve the pain?

All of these are ways we can deal with the troubles and pressures in our life, but they are all false refuges. They only provide momentary relief, and often times create more problems than they fix.


We must repent by realizing that God is our only true refuge. The Psalmist makes this clear because God is the One the Psalmist consistently turned to over and over again. He knew God was his refuge because God alone provided him with escape, safety, security, comfort, and pleasure.

In Psalm 27:1, the Psalmist writes,

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

And in 27:5, he writes,

For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock.

We too must find our refuge in the Lord, and we must repent of our unbelief. When we make other things our refuge, we show that we do not believe God has the power to protect us, to provide us with a refuge. We must cast off our unbelief by preaching the gospel to ourselves daily. For it is only in the gospel that we realize the power of God. Paul tells us that the same power God used to raise Christ from the dead is available for those who believe. He says,

And what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ, when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above very name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come (Eph 1:19-21).

If God is able to raise Christ from the dead, seat Him at His right hand, and give Him authority over all of creation, He certainly has the power to protect us. We must realize this and repent of our unbelief.


Here are a few passages from God’s word to meditate on this week, as you consider where you find your refuge: Pss 23, 27, 31, 46.

All X-Ray questions taken from David Powlison’s book Seeing with New Eyes.

Sin: Do you have a thick or thin view?

Do you have a thick or thin view of sin? Your answer will decide how you work to root sin out of your life.

Thin View of Sin

Those who have a thin view of sin see “sin as a series of discrete acts of non-compliance to God’s regulations” (12). In other words, those who have a thin view of sin believe sin to be nothing more than breaking God’s rules.

Thick View of Sin

In contrast, those who have a thick view of sin see all sin “as idolatry that pervades all we do” (12). External actions represent internal idolatries. Here the desires of our heart becomes important, not just our external actions.

The Differences in Dealing With Sin

The difference becomes even clearer when we look at how sin is dealt with in each person’s life.

Those with a thin view of sin believe they sin when they break God’s rules. As a result, they seek to place external restraints, or change their environment, to rid sin from their lives. They believe they are successful when they have removed all environmental temptations.

For instance, if someone is struggling with profanity, someone with a thin view of sin would counsel them to place some sort of external restraint on themselves, such as putting a dollar in a container every time they curse.  Or if someone were struggling with an addiction, such as drug abuse, they would be told to stay away from people or places that would tempt them to use.

However, those with a thick view of sin deal with sin much differently. They seek to drill down into the heart to discover the root cause of their sin. They will focus on the desires of their heart, not just their external actions. This is because they view their external actions as the fruit, which is the result of a much deeper heart condition.

So, instead of counseling someone addicted to drugs to stay away from places or people who will tempt them to use, even though that may be helpful, they are going to attempt to expose the idols of that person’s heart, in order to deal with their desires and remove that idol from their life.


It is true, withdrawal from certain environments will make you feel less sinful, but you have not eliminated the sin from your heart. Tim Keller says, “The complex organic nature of sin will still be at work making idols out of things that are not overt forms of law-breaking,” such as moral goodness, financial security, family, and doctrinal purity (12).

As you can see, changing your external environment does not really deal with, or eliminate, the sin in your life. All you have done is trade apparent sins for respectable sins. In order to truly root sin out of your heart, you must have a thick view of sin because it truly deals with the idols of the heart.

The goal is not to produce moralists, or people who look good on the outside, which is what happens when you have a thin view of sin. Our true goal should be to produce real heart change through the power of the Gospel, which will only happen if we have a thick view of sin.


In an effort to help my readers use the Gospel to root the idols out of their heart, I have started a series entitled X-Ray Questions. You can view my introductory post here and my latest post here.

Also, you can check out the following resources:

Contextual and Missional by Tim Keller (all quotes are taken from this article)

How People Change by Timothy S. Lane

Seeing With New Eyes by David Powlison

Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul David Tripp