Freedom In Christ
Text: John 8
Key Verse John 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free
"Doc," said Frank, "if there is anything the matter with me, don't scare me half to death by giving it a long name; just tell me what it is in plain English." "Well," said the doctor, "to be frank with you, then, you are just plain lazy."
"Thank you, doctor," sighed the patient with relief; "now give me a big, long name for it, so I can go home and tell my wife."
That man didn’t want to acknowledge his true condition. He is much like the people in our passage today, they refused to acknowledge their condition before Jesus as people held in bondage to sin and needing an emancipator.
There was a time when our nation did see that it was in bondage to a King and another country that had become tyrants, it is that day we are commemorating today and on Independence day, July the 4th.
Declaration of Independence. After all the reason for independence the concluding paragraphs says….
We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare.
That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.
And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
At the point of that declaration our country became a free country. There were still many battles to fight and a war to win but we were now a free people.
Have you ever considered the need for a declaration of freedom in your own lives? Can we recall a day, a time, a place, where we went from bondage to freedom? Some may say, "Set Free? We aren't slaves. We are free people, we are Americans." But the slavery I'm speaking of is so much a part of us it isn't recognized as slavery. It is a slavery we are born into, it is a slavery we can’t escape by fighting a war are following the underground railroad. This slavery is who we are even if we don’t know that we are in bonds.
Jesus dealt with this type of slavery in John 8. Turn to verse 30 and listen as Jesus will point us to the One Way of Freedom.
All or Nothing Believing John 8:30
As he spake these words, many believed on him.
To Those who had believed
Jesus, addresses the Jews who seemingly had believed in him. There is no difference in this word in the Greek that would tell us their belief was something different than the belief in John 3:16 but though the word is not different the proof of their belief is vastly different.
So What had these Jews believed? Let’s look back in to the context of what Jesus had just been teaching in John 8:12-30
Jesus is the Light, The revelation of God Vs. 12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
Jesus was from Heaven, from God Vs 23 And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.
Jesus would be lifted up by them. Vs. 28 Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. 29 And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.
Have you believed the same way?
You accept the claims of Christ. That He was God's Son, that he was Messiah, that he was the rightful King of Israel. You accept the historical Christ. That He was virgin born, that He turned water to wine, that he healed the sick, that he raised the dead. You believe he died on the cross, you believe that he rose again.
Yet your belief only involves your head and not your heart, your mind but not your life. It is a belief in someone who is no more real to you now than George Washington or Abraham Lincoln. Great men who did great things but not alive today not able to change lives and history now. A belief like that cannot save you, it cannot set you free. It cannot really save you because before you can be saved you must realize that you are lost. Before you can be free you must understand that you are bound by sin.
Blondin crossing Niagara Falls on a Tight rope
A huge crowd was watching the famous tightrope walker, Blondin, cross Niagara Falls one day in 1860. He crossed it numerous times—a 1,000 foot trip, 160 feet above the raging waters. He asked the crowd if they believed he could take one person across. All assented. Then he approached one man and asked him to get on his back and go with him. The man refused!
You see mental assent or even verbal assent is not real belief. In order to really believe in the tightrope walker’s ability, the believer had to put himself in the power of the man holding the wheelbarrow. The difference between us and this illustration is that we are already in the wheelbarrow and it is about to pushed out on the line and we must really believe before it is too late. You are going to go you only choice is going alone or letting Jesus take control.
Transition: What did Jesus tell those who "believed" in John 8?
They must continue in His word. They must be disciples.
Acid Test of Believing John 8:31-32
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
True Belief Meant Continuing in His Word.
Continuing was the acid test of profession. Notice the singular "word" not words. This is the Greek word we are familiar with, Logos. In this context Jesus is saying true faith, really believing in Me, means continuing in everything that he teaches and everything that He is. It is all or it is nothing.
No picking and choosing, all. We cannot be like the Bible, Thomas Jefferson's made when he removed all the miracles of Christ from the New Testament and left just the man but not God. We must believe in Jesus as He says not as we wish or we can change to fit our concept of Him.
Then Jesus goes on, because they continued in the word, they would truly be disciples and as disciples, they would know the truth and the truth would make them free.
Not truth in a general sense but truth as God’s truth. Truth as God revealed it to Israel by the prophets and truth as it was not being revealed in the person of Jesus the Christ. The truth He says that held the key to real freedom, the truth that would make them free.
True freedom meant being a true disciple, a committed follower of Jesus Christ.
And the Jews who professed their belief are confronted with this paradox, to be free they must become slaves, servants to Jesus.
Here was the acid test. Believing, meant trusting not just with their mind but with their mind, heart body and soul. It meant believing it with their life by giving that life to Him and being His follower.
Scripture: Mark 12:30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
Are We Followers or False Professers?
The world is filled with people who say they are Christians.
By this they mean they believe in Jesus Christ. But their actions reveal that they cannot be Christians for they do are not committed to Christ, they have not continued in His Word.
History is filled with examples of men who murdered, stole and deceived all in the name of Christ.
Constantine was the first so called "Christian" Emperor. He claimed to see a vision of a burning cross and the words "With this conquer." He then called himself a believer and ordered his men to march across the Tiber River thus baptizing them. From that seed sprung the fruits of of a pagan/ Christian hybrid that many who call themselves Christians believe in, but they know no more about Christ than did Constantine or the Jews in John 8.
A few years ago in Northern Ireland people who called themselves Christians were planting bombs and killing other people who called themselves Christian.
Here in the south 50 or 60 years ago people who called themselves Christians would bar other Christians from attending the same church unless they sat in the back segregated from those who had a different skin color.
Let me say emphatically, those were not Christians in the sense of being a follower of Jesus, not based upon what we read in John 8. They professed to believe but they did not continue in Christ's Word. They were not willing to become slaves in order to be made free.
Jesus said it is not a verbal or mental assent that marks you as a Christian, it is the commitment the always follows true belief in Jesus the Son of God. Commitment to follow Him and commitment to trust His Word.
Nor are we truly believers when we can pick and choose what we will believe about the person of Christ.
He must be both God and man, King and servant, dead once but today alive.He must be virgin born of Mary, He must be the one who turned water to wine, He must be the one who walked on water, multiplied the loaves and fishes, healed the sick, and raised the dead.He must be the one who died on the cross for my sin, He must be the one who was buried in Joseph's tomb, he must be the one who bodily rose from that tomb and then ascended back into heaven. He must be the one who even now sits at the right hand of God waiting to return and claim His kingdom. He must be the one who sent the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. He must be the one who appeared to Paul on the Damascus road. He must be the one who freed Peter from prison. He must be the one who appeared as Alpha and Omega to John on the Isle of Patmos. He must be the one who touches my heart. He must be the one who calls my name and shows me He is real. He must be Lord of creation and Lord of my life.
Illustration: Ghandi refuses Christianity
A deplorable incident occurred in the life of Mahatma Ghandi. He said in his autobiography that during his student days he was interested in the Bible. Deeply touched by reading the gospels, he seriously considered becoming a convert. Christianity seemed to offer the real solution to the caste system that was dividing the people of India. One Sunday he went to a church to see the minister and ask for instruction on the way of salvation and other Christian doctrines. But when he entered the sanctuary, the ushers refused him a seat and suggested that he go and worship with his own people. He left and never went back. "If Christians have caste differences also," he said to himself, "I might as well remain a Hindu."
Transition: Reaction of those Jews who believed
When they heard what Jesus said Do you know what they reacted to? It was the word free. They did not think they were slaves.
Antidote to Slavery is Believing John 8:33-37
They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.
"We are not in bondage to any man"
They said they were free from political slavery, they were their own people.
In reality they were under the subjugation of the Roman Empire and had no freedom whatsoever. In less the 40 years from this day the Romans would come and destroy the city of Jerusalem because they would try to assert their imagined freedom.
But Jesus wasn't speaking of political freedom. He told them "whoever commits sin is the servant of sin."
In reality, they were not free politically nor were they free spiritually, but the freedom through truth Jesus spoke of was not political but spiritual freedom.
The answer to spiritual slavery was Jesus. "If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."
Freedom was through Him and Him only. Only by knowing and following Him could they really be free.
John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth and the life, no man cometh to the father but by me."
Acts 4:12 " Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
Jesus confirms that they are Abraham's seed but tells them it means nothing and that is proven because they are trying to kill him.
Why? Because His Word, His truth, His declaration of Himself and of salvation, could find no place in them. It could not penetrate their traditions, their pride, their arrogance or their blindness to remedy their own lost condition and slavery to sin and set them free.
Have You Seen Your Chains?
Until we come to Christ we are slaves just like the Jews.
We are slaves to others, to the people around us, to their expectations, to their opinions, to their acceptance or rejection of us. I am a slave to my laziness, a slave to my bitterness, a slave to my ambition, a slave to my ego, a slave to my shyness, a slave to my bad habits, a slave to my physical body with all its ailments and weaknesses.
And all this true because at the root of it all, we are slaves to sin
Jesus says in verse 34, He who commits sin is the slave of sin. Are any of us exempt from that statement? No, because we have all experienced the slippery slope of sin. With each act it becomes easier to commit the next. Every time I give myself to it, it gains more control over me. Until I realize I was never in control at all. I am the slave of sin.
"Sin, like the worst narcotic, is habit forming." A.T. Robertson.
I'm a slave, we are all slaves and the only way to find freedom is in Jesus Christ.
John 8:35-36 35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. 36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
What We Must Do To Be Free?
We must commit ourselves to Jesus Christ. Our heart, body, soul, mind and strength, the whole man must be given to our Lord and savior Jesus. It is all of us or none of us.
Example: John 13:8 Peter refuses to let Jesus wash his feet. “Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head."
Let the Word find lodging in our hearts.
The Word of God (All Scripture)
The Words (teaching) of Jesus
And God the Word Incarnate, (Jesus)
Illustration: Matthew 13 the sower and the seed.
You choose which soil is your heart.
Matthew 13:3 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; 4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: 5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: 6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: 8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. 9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Matthew 13: 18 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. 19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. 20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. 22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. 23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
Which soil is your heart this morning, hard packed wayside soul, stony hearted soil, a heart crowded with the things of this world or a heart like good ground, tilled, turned and ready to accept the word deep within and commit yourself to the sower, Jesus Christ.
Are you free today? Would you be set free today? Then the words of Jesus are clear, If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” It is not a time for a mere mental assent to His existence. It is not time for a profession of belief that doesn’t come from your heart. To be set free you must see your chains and commit yourself to the Son of God who will set you free, free indeed!