John 8, Part 2: Free Indeed
Jesus had just made the remarkable statement : “ I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Now the Pharisees challenge Jesus’ teaching and his lack of witnesses. Jesus tells them His Father testifies of Him. Moses, the Prophets, the Psalms all spoke of Jesus.
When Jesus spoke of his Father, who sent him, the Pharisees asked Jesus, “ Who is your father?” We will see later, they knew of his birth and the rumor Jesus was illegitimate. Jesus states a basic truth: you do not know me or my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father.
Then Jesus makes a statement which speaks of an eternal truth. “ I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.” Jesus was speaking of His death on the cross, his resurrection and ascension to heaven. The Jews to this day still look for the Messiah. Paul writes their minds are veiled, they are in darkness when they read Moses. Unless they turn to Jesus, the veil will not be lifted. If they do not turn to Jesus, they will die in their sins. Their destination will be hell, the cannot come where Jesus is, which is in heaven. But we know He is not willing that any perish, but all come to repentance. God never willed anyone to hell.
The spiritually blind Pharisees do not understand and think Jesus is speaking of suicide. So Jesus continues to offer the truth. “ You are from below, I am from above. You are of this world, I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.” Heaven is a prepared place for prepared people. Jesus came to show us the way, the truth and the life.
He specifically tells them of how His death will occur according to Scripture. “ When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be, and I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The One who sent me is with me; He has not left me alone, for I always do what please Him. “ When we read the accounts of the crucifixion in the Gospels, we read of the signs which occurred that fateful day. The sky turned dark in mid-afternoon; an earthquake split rocks and the veil in the temple was rent from the top to the bottom. Graves were opened and the bodies of many holy ones who had died were raised to life. They went into the city and appeared to many people. When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw all this, they were terrified and the centurion proclaimed, surely this was the Son of God. ( Matthew 27) We know as far as Jesus resurrection, He was seen by over 500 witnesses. These gospels were written while these eyewitnesses were still living. These were real people verified by other sources in the recording of history: Pilate, Herod, and Caiaphas were real people. These are historical facts. When historians want to verify a historical event, they use several methods: archaeological discoveries, manuscript evidence, eye witnesses to the event, and the character of the eyewitnesses. This is what has led well-known historians to say they know of no other event in history better and more fully proven than the resurrection Jesus.
A NEW KIND OF FREEDOM
Now we come to some very familiar, often quoted verses. Beginning at verse 30 John records the impact of Jesus’ teaching: “ Even as he spoke, many put their faith in him. To the Jews who had believed in him, 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.” ( NIV) “ Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed on Him, if you continue in my word, then you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” (KJV) Whenever Jesus talked about discipleship, he prefaced the statement with the word- if. Examples: If you love me, keep my commandments. If any man follows me, he must deny himself.
Turn the verse around and it reads: If you are my disciples indeed, you will continue in my word. If you are really my disciples, you will continue in my word. Jesus is sifting the wheat from the chaff. He is stating the evidence of saving faith, it is a faith which continues in the word of God. The study of his word and obedience to his word are evidence of saving faith. Like a newborn babe desires milk, we desire the Word of God. It is our nourishment, the bread of life, it is alive and powerful . It is life giving, life changing and life sustaining.
People heard the word, the incorruptible seed on this day. For some it bounced off their hardened hearts, and the birds took it away. Others received it with joy, but the soil was shallow due to a rock underneath, and it did not take root and withered. Others were crowded out by the cares of the world, the pleasures of sin.
What was this new kind of freedom? Do we not all want to be free? Yet we are born in darkness and spiritual blindness. The opposite of freedom is slavery. Jesus says you are slave to sin. You serve sin. Sin is your master. And since everyone sins, everyone is a slave to sin. We yearn to be free. The enemy has blinded us to real freedom, a new kind of freedom. Have you sinned since you became a Christian? Of course you have, we all have sinned, even since we became a Christian.
How does sin enslave one? It enslaves us by producing a compelling desire, more desirable than anything. When you sin as a Christian, you are by your actions saying I desire this sin more than Jesus.
The Pharisees did not understand the spiritual truth and replied to Jesus : “ We are Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage.” What incredible willful blindness. They were at that very moment the slaves of the Roman Empire, the generation before them had been under the Greek Empire, and the list goes all the way back with Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Egypt.
Again quoting from the KJV Jesus answered them: “ Verily, verily, I say unto you, whosoever commits sin is the servant of sin.” This is present tense, which implies this is an ongoing lifestyle of sin. The Jesus explains: ( NIV) Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs forever. “ The servant comes to work in the morning and leaves at night. He does not live in the home, he goes back to his home after the day of service. The son lives there. We have been adopted into the household of God. He is our Heavenly Father. Jesus, is our true elder brother.
In verse 36, Jesus substitutes his name for the truth, because He is the truth and came to testify to the truth: “ If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed. “
I was a slave to alcohol. At first it produced pleasure, it was fun. I was experiencing what I thought was freedom from my parents rule. Off at college, I could make my own decisions and do what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it. I had the desire to sin. I had the opportunity to sin. I had the ability to sin.
While the chains of enslavement were being forged about my life, I was blind to what was happening. Sin blinds one to the truth. Unless someone intervenes, we are in a free fall to destruction. It was a way which seemed right to us, but its end is destruction. Some of the habits we form through the practice of this particular sin, so enslave us we believe even after we have been saved, we cannot give them up. Smoking for many of us began as a harmless, sophisticated habit. Nicotine is highly addictive. For many the desire still exists, it is still compelling and the opportunity and ability to commit it is available.
Deception is obvious. Many times family intervenes and confronts the one enslaved to drugs or alcohol to take them into a treatment center. The one who is enslaved says they are not enslaved, they can quit anytime they want to quit. The problem is they have no desire to quit. They are in a free-fall which will end as badly as the sky diver who jumps from the plane, only to find they have a defective parachute. I tried and tried to quit drinking in my own will power. But my old nature was no match for the master of sin. I needed not only a new master, I needed a new way of thinking, for as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.
When Jesus says true disciples continue in His word, He is speaking on an ongoing, continuous study of His word and adherence to it for the rest of our lives. One can send children to school for learning, and at some point in time they graduate. We are students of Christ and his teaching for all our lives right into eternity.
How does the word set us free from the slavery of sin? We have a new master. We have been born again, our old nature has been crucified and buried. Buried with Christ, my sins have been buried and carried away, as far as the east is from the west. Into the deepest part of the ocean where there is no fishing allowed. My new nature desires Jesus above all things.
Free indeed means: free from the desire to do this sin. I no longer have a desire to drink alcohol.
I no longer seek an opportunity to drink alcohol.
I no longer have the ability to drink alcohol. Why? Because a dead man cannot drink. I have been crucified with Christ. ( Past Tense). Nevertheless I live. ( A present fact). Yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. ( A truth, a fact which Paul says we must reckon or count as true) and the life I now live, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me. ( The exchanged life which took place at conversion. Jesus wants to share his life with me, as I share my life with Him.) Galatians 2: 20
He knew how miserable I was in my slavery. He heard my cry that morning as surely as He heard the cries coming up from the enslaved Israelites in Egypt. He inclined his ear to me and lifted me up out of the miry pit I was stuck in and could not get out of in my own strength and will. He literally kept me from falling.
To take away the desires of my old nature, he took away my old nature. He crucified me with Him. My old nature was buried with Him. Paul says we need to know these facts: “ Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed and that henceforth we should not serve sin. FOR HE THAT IS DEAD IS FREED FROM SIN.”
A dead man has no desire. A dead man cannot smoke or drink. WE ARE NOW FREE NOT TO SIN.
Paul then concludes and tells us how this works. DO NOT MISS THIS.
“ Let not sin reign in our mortal body, that you should obey it in the lust thereof. Neither yield your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin; ( do not give your old nature an opportunity to sin, do not entertain sinful thoughts, but cast them out, replace them with truth) but yield yourselves unto God; as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. “ ( Yield to the truth of God’s word)
I was sick and tired of not being able to stay sober. I was wretched. I was miserable. The wine which had sparkled in the cup had turned into poison and its sting was close to taking my life. I was so weary of life, I did not want to live.
Hear our Lord’s invitation: Come unto me all you that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. ( There is a rest that is given at salvation) Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am meek and lowly in heart ; and you shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” ( Matthew 11: 28-30) I was given that rest on the day I was saved, September 16, 1977. What began then continues to this day is the sanctification process which is ongoing. It is an apprenticeship where I work by His side, yoked with Him. For the yoke is the place of learning.
Now I am a child of God, a son. I abide forever with my Father in the Father’s house. I was adopted. Adoption is a legal process by which one becomes a member of a family. It is initiated by the parent. Regeneration is the work of God and as a result I am born into the family of God. Now as a legal member, born into the family I have an inheritance. I am in fact, a joint heir with Jesus. The Holy Spirit has shed abroad in my heart the love of God. I have the peace of God, I have access to the power of God, the mind of Christ, and the gift of faith. I have been freed and am being freed of the desire to sin. I strive to have a conscious awareness of God at all times, to set my mind on things above so I will not seek an opportunity to be tempted. Deliver me from temptation is my prayer, which Jesus, Himself taught us to pray.
Jesus said if you are really my disciples, you will continue in my word. Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against you. He drew me to His word from the day I was saved. He gave me a promise from early on and that one promise ( I Cor. 10:13) prayed back to Him kept me from giving into the desire to drink, because my new nature desired Him more than a drink. He kept me from drinking , removing the opportunity that very day I prayed it.
I was about to fall from 10 stories to my death on that September morning, so here is my everlasting testimony:
“ To Him, who is able to keep me from falling and to present me before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy, to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore. Amen.