Sapphire Sky

April 22, 2015

The Truth Will Set You Free

Filed under: encouragement, theology — Tags: — Steve Knaus @ 11:04 pm

barbed-wire-fence

“The truth will set you free.”

This popular phase has adorned institutes of higher learning and is commonly quoted by intellectuals, and others who value a good education. “When you are exposed to truth, you will be able to throw off the shackles that have enslaved you”; “Only when you learn will you reach your full potential.”

Others use this phrase as encouragement to cleanse yourselves from the trappings of any lies. They see being truthful as freeing yourself from the entanglements caused by your deception, “tell the truth and free yourself”.

But is Jesus really talking about education and self-fulfillment? Look closer at all that Jesus said:

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Many believed in Jesus after his last statements. There were also several believers in the crowd from the recent Feast of Tabernacles (see John 7:31). Jesus then turned to the believers. It is not enough to simply agree with the truth about Jesus. To be a true disciple of Jesus, you need to abide in his word. 

What does it mean to abide in his word? The word for “abide” is meno (μένω), which means to take up residence; to continue; remain; not depart. It means to stay connected to His word. Jesus uses the same word, “abide”, in John 15 when he compared his disciples as branches to a vine. We abide in Him when we stay connected to him. We need to make his word our source, our guide, our refuge, and our comfort.

What is the truth? Jesus made it clear that the freedom is from sin, yet the people already believed that they were free. Part of the truth is to shatter their false security so that they may know that they need to be rescued from sin. But Jesus, himself, is the truth (John 14:6). All who believe in him will be rescued from sin (John 3:14-18).

What happens to the true disciples who abide in His word? They will know the truth that makes them free. The true disciples will know the truth about freedom from sin and receive eternal life with God.

“By nature far from Him, they were bondsmen. Only if they abode in His Word would they know the truth, and the truth would make them free. The result of this knowledge would be moral, and hence that knowledge consisted not in merely believing on Him, but in making His Word and teaching their dwelling – abiding in it.” – Alfred Edersheim [3]

In the previous study on John 8, we had covered that Jesus commanded the listeners to “Follow Me” four times in this chapter. Each time he repeated the command, he made the command more specific and had increasingly hostile responses. In each of these four commands, Jesus also gave a promise for those who follow him:

  • “Follow Me” (John 8:12-20)
  • “Believe that I AM” (John 8:21-30)
  • “Abide in my word” (John 8:31-47)
  • “Keep my word” (John 8:48-59)

The final two commands, discussed here, are both related to Jesus’ Word. What makes the difference between a true disciple and an unbeliever? Their response to His Word.


“Abide in my word”

It is those who abide in His Word that are his true disciples. The promise, discussed above, is that the true disciples would know Jesus and be made free from sin.

But the opposition to Jesus has increased severely. The Jews did not believe that they need anything else other than to be a descendant of Abraham. They would rather kill Jesus than face the truth. They dismissed Jesus as an illegitimate child, who is not worthy of teaching them.

The response by Jesus was the strongest yet. There are only two families: the family of God and the family of The Devil. If they do not love the one sent by God, then they are children of The Devil! How are they identified as children of The Devil? Because they do not love Jesus and they cannot bear to hear his word.

 

“Keep my word” 

“Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.”

Jesus also gives the promise that those who keep his word will never see death. Their bodies may die but they will never be separated from God (See Revelation 21:1-8).

“Now outwardly, of course, believers die as others die. And yet the wonderful thing is that the words of Jesus are absolutely true: the believer does not see death. What does he see? He sees the entrance into the Father’s house. Death, we are told, is our servant. How does death serve us? By ushering us into the presence of God.” – H.A. Ironside [4]

The opposition by the Jews goes beyond the personal attacks. They now accused Jesus of being demon-possessed. The response by Jesus was the promise here, but he also relied on the glory from God the Father.

The Jews were shocked that Jesus may claim to be a greater man than Abraham, yet that was not what Jesus was saying. He was not a greater man than Abraham. He was the God of Abraham!

 

Remember!

Things to remember from this study:

  • Jesus is the truth. If you want to be free, know Jesus! To be free from your sin, get closer to Jesus Christ.
  • There are only two families: the family of God and the family of the Devil.
  • Get close to Jesus by abiding in His Word!

 

Previous post: Light of the World


 

John 8:31-59

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”

Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”

They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are doing the works your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. 


 

“If you abide in my word, … you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

 

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

It is not enough to simply agree with the truth about Jesus. To be a true disciple of Jesus, you need to abide in his word.

 

What does it mean to abide in his word? The word for “abide” is meno (μένω), which means to take up residence; to continue; remain; not depart. It means to stay connected to His word. Jesus uses the same word, “abide”, in John 15 when he compared his disciples as branches to a vine. We abide in Him when we stay connected to him. We need to make his word our source, our guide, our refuge, and our comfort.

 

It also means to continue in His word. The true disciple will persevere in His word, even through difficult times.

 

What happens to the true disciples who abide in His word? They will know the truth that makes them free. Jesus makes it clear later in this passage that the freedom is from sin. Therefore, the true disciples will know the truth about freedom from sin and eternal life with God.

 

 

They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”  Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”

The Old Testament scriptures taught that the Messiah would save the people from sin (see the link here). This freedom from sin is exactly what Jesus was offering, but the Jews did not believe they needed to be saved.

 

The Jews knew well that their nation was subject to Rome. They were hardly free men, yet they relied on their inward sense of freedom. Abraham was their great ancestor and the Jews were secure in their belief that they were free from sin simply because they were his descendants.

 

Jesus would go back to their connection with Abraham throughout the rest of this chapter (Abraham is mentioned 11 times in this chapter). He repeatedly shatters their false security.

 

They were slaves to sin. As slaves, they had no rights and were not part of God’s family. The only way they could have freedom is to be set free by the Son of God.

 

“He told them that it was not enough that they were literally descended from Abraham, but that they must know that deliverance from the power of sin that Abraham knew if they were to be recognized as the children of God.” – H.A. Ironside [4]

 

The people — these believers — wanted to kill him. Jesus had so offended their religious beliefs that they were now becoming resolved that he was better off dead! His word had no place in them.

 

Jesus’ point was very direct. They claimed to be in God’s family because they were descendants of Abraham. But they could not possibly be in God’s family if they wanted to kill God’s son.

 

 

They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are doing the works your father did.”

Jesus responded that the spiritual descendants of Abraham do what Abraham did, that is, they believe and obey God. [5]

 

“But they entertained purposes of murder, and that, because the Word of Christ had not free course, made not way in them. His Word was what He had seen with (before) the Father, not heard – for His presence was there Eternal. Their deeds were what they had heard from their father” – Alfred  Edersheim [3]

 


 

You are of your father the devil”

 

They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word.

 The Jews responded with, “We were not born from sexual immorality”. Jesus had just told them that they could not possibly be Abraham’s descendants since they wanted to kill him. Their response was that their lineage was pure. They could trace their bloodlines, both personally and as a nation.

 

But there was also a deeply personal attack in their response. Once again, they were accusing Jesus of being an illegitimate child who could not possibly be the Son of God.

 

Jesus ignored their personal attack and pressed the point that if God were their father, then they would love the one sent from God. They do not understand him because they refuse to hear his word.

 

 

You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?

 Here is the main point. There are only two families: the family of God and the family of the devil. Every member of the human race belongs to either of these two families.

 

The difference between the two families is shown by how they handle the word of Jesus Christ. Jesus brings up his word three times in this scene:

  • “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples”
  • “You seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you”
  • “you cannot bear to hear my word”
  • “if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death”

 

The believing Jews wanted to listen to Jesus, but they would rather kill him than be his disciples, following his word. They claimed to be children of God, but they could not be in God’s family when they had no love for the one sent from God.

 

They were part of the devil’s family. The devil is a murderer and is opposed to the truth.

 

What was their greatest sin? Jesus mentioned it twice here. They refuse to believe. Jesus was never convicted of anything wrong, yet they would not believe him.

 

 

Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

They are not simply refusing one man’s testimony. By refusing to believe Jesus’ word, they are refusing the words of God the Father.

 


 

“If anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.”

 

The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge.

 The hostility has been escalating throughout this scene. While the Jews had started out with simple insinuations about Jesus’ birth (i.e. “Who is your father?”), they now throw the strongest possible insults at him.

 

“You are a Samaritan and have a demon!” This was their strongest insult that they could bring against Jesus. The word, “Samaritan”, was the common term for a heretic (see here) and was used against unbelieving Jews. But this accusation was also, once again, another personal attack against Jesus’ birth. By calling Jesus a Samaritan, they were calling him a half-breed child of a worthless foreigner.

 

They also charged him with having a demon. This was the tactic that the Pharisees had used to explain Jesus’ miracles, attributing his work to the power of Satan (see Matthew 12:22-32; Mark 3:20-30).

 

Note that Jesus again did not not respond to the personal attacks. His power is not from demons but from God the Father. They dishonor God the Father by accusing Jesus. Jesus will not try to defend himself but will let God the Father judge.

 

 

Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.”

 Even in the middle of their accusations and personal attacks, Jesus gave an invitation. “If anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” We have a physical life and a physical death. Likewise, we have a spiritual life. But Jesus gives the invitation to escape the spiritual death by keeping his word (See also Revelation 21:1-8).

 

 

The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.”

 Jesus spoke about escaping death and the Jews thought he was demon possessed. There was no way, in their minds, that Jesus could be greater than death. After all, even Abraham and the prophets died. Their reaction was, “Who do you think you are?”

 

The response from Jesus was simple but very direct:

  • “I am not glorifying myself because God the father is glorifying me”
  • “You claim God as your own but you do not know him”
  • “I know God the Father. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you”
  • “I keep His word”
  • “You claim kinship to Abraham but he rejoiced to see my day”

 

When did Abraham see Jesus? We don’t know the exact reference that Jesus was referring to, but it was likely when God gave Abraham the promise that “In you shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 22:15-18).

 

 

So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

 For the final time in the scene, Jesus silence says the crowd by naming the name of God, “I AM”. He is the God who spoke to Moses. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He existed before Abraham lived.

 

They understood him. Jesus had just committed the ultimate blasphemy by claiming to be God. Their anger was beyond words and they picked up stones to kill him.

 


 

[3] Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus The Messiah, Book IV, “The Descent”, CHAPTER 8

 

[4] H.A. Ironside, Address 29, IS THERE A PERSONAL DEVIL?, John 8:33-44;

Address 30, THE PREEXISTENT CHRIST, John 8:45-59

 

[5] John F. Walvoord & Roy B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, John 8, pages 303-307.

 

2 Comments »

  1. […] John 8, Jesus challenged their religious preconceptions. They believed that God would save them, simply […]

    Pingback by Are you blind? | Sapphire Sky — May 3, 2015 @ 2:42 pm

  2. […] here for a discussion about this section in John […]

    Pingback by The Vine and the Branches | Sapphire Sky — September 8, 2015 @ 12:06 am


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