True Belief = True Freedom.
“But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free?’” – John 8:33 NLT
It would appear that there were those in the crowd that day who believed in Jesus. John records, “Then many who heard him say these things believed in him” (John 8:30 NLT). Jesus turned His attention to those very people, saying, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32 NLT). That is when their belief began to be tested. Jesus’ reference to freedom struck a nerve with them. As proud descendants of Abraham, they viewed themselves as free men, not slaves. While they may have been under Roman rule and subject to their heavy taxations and constant military presence, they saw themselves as free. But Jesus shattered their outlook by breaking the news to them that they were slaves to sin. Anyone and everyone who sins is a slave to sin. The fact that they were descendants of Abraham didn’t change that fact. The very fact that their own religious leadership were trying to kill Jesus was proof of their sinful natures. There were those in the crowd that day who were plotting and planning His death, in spite of the fact that Jesus had come from God and was speaking the words of God. Jesus was offering them release from slavery to sin, but they couldn’t believe it. Jesus knew that their real problem was that they were children of Satan himself. They were listening to his lies and believing his propaganda against Jesus. As the “father of lies,” Satan despised the truth and did everything in his power to stifle it and replace it with his own version of the truth. Jesus came speaking the truth of God. But the people couldn’t and wouldn’t believe Him. They tried, but Jesus told them, “You don’t listen because you don’t belong to God” (John 8:47 NLT).
Angered by His words, the people showed their true colors, saying, “You Samaritan devil! Didn’t we say all along that you were possessed by a demon?” (John 8:48 NLT). One of the signs of true belief is confession of sin. Jesus offered freedom, but in order to enjoy the benefits of that freedom, you had to first understand and acknowledge that you were enslaved to sin with no hope of escape. But that acknowledgement came hard to these people. They were prideful and arrogant, seeing themselves as the chosen people of God. They understood themselves to be the apple of God’s eye. They had the Temple, the sacrificial system, the Law of Moses, the covenant promises made to Abraham and David, the hope of a future Messiah – and yet, here stood that very Messiah right in front of them, but they would refuse to listen to Him, believe in Him, and obey His words. Jesus made it clear to them that He was greater than Abraham. “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I AM” (John 8:58 NLT). By referring to Himself as the great I AM, a name used by God Himself when He met with Moses at the burning bush, Jesus is claiming His divinity. He is declaring Himself to be God. And the people react accordingly. Not in belief, but in anger and rage. They pick up stones to kill Him. Their true natures were revealed. Their true condition was made evident. They were still slaves to sin. They were still operating under the influence of Satan. They were rejecting the Way, the Truth, and the Life. And they would never experience the freedom Jesus came to provide.
Father, there are those who claim to believe in Your Son, but they refuse to acknowledge their own sinfulness. Somehow they believe that they deserve to be saved. They have somehow earned the right to spend eternity with You based on their good behavior, godly heritage, or status in life. They are good people and they count on their goodness to save them. But to be set free, we must first recognize our slavery to sin. We have to understand that we can’t earn our way into heaven. None of us deserves to stand in Your presence. But Jesus, Your Son, offers us freedom from sin by exchanging our sinfulness with His own righteousness. It is His goodness, not our own, that grants us entrance into Your presence. Yet the enemy continues to try and get us to accept another version of the truth. He offers up logical-sounding lies that allow us to rationalize our sinfulness, but that leave millions enslaved and hopeless. Open their eyes so that they might see the truth, recognize their sin, and accept Your Son’s offer of freedom. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men