So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in 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 commits 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."
(John 8:31-38 ESV)
The great need for us is to be set free from sin that so easily entangles us. So we are called to lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. (Heb.12:1-2). Sin is described as a heavy weight that enslaves people, it clings so easily – it is as if it is magnetic. Because of this, the life of a Christian is that of perseverance and patience fighting and mortifying sin every. We are called upon to endure and press on in faith without getting tired. Of course if we are to rely on ourselves we will not get far (John 15:4, 5). Therefore, we are to be those who look to Jesus, the Founder and Perfecter of our faith.
The problem is that many a times we refuse to acknowledge our sins – we are like these Jews whom Jesus was speaking to in this passage. They would not accept that they are sinners in a constant need of a Saviour. They could not accept that they were enslaved to sin. Instead they claimed to be the offspring of Abraham and yet in their hearts and minds they were plotting murder (they wanted to kill Jesus, as He read their minds and told them). Jesus spoke the heavenly truth – what He had heard from the Father and it is for this reason that we are to take His instructions, admonition and correction seriously today.
Two lessons for us:
1. Those who believe in Christ are to abide in His Word
The way to begin a relationship with God is to believe in Christ. There are two reasons that can make us to lack fellowship with the Lord Jesus – if we do not abide by Him and if we are not fruitful (see the parable of the true vine in John 15:4-7). His promise is that "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." Although this is a clear and express promise, there is a condition for being set free, He says, “If you abide in my word…” the condition is abiding in the Word of Christ. The Word of Christ is always available for us – we have the privilege of owning Bibles and so we have them with us every time. We learn from Christ both by example and instruction.
It is when we hide the Word of God in our hearts that we do not sin against Him (Psalm 119:11). Our task is to keep closer and closer to the Word of God because it is near us. May we be those who have a scheduled time for reading the Word of God and meditating on it every day? How else do you grow? There is no alternative to growing in faith. So we are to desire pure spiritual milk of the Word of God so that we may grow thereby in salvation (1Peter2:2).
2. The truth sets us free from sin
What is the beginning to being set free from sin? The true disciples have faith – trust and confidence in Christ. They listen and learn from Him as their teacher and Master. It is learning from Christ that qualifies one to be His follower. What do we learn from Him? We are to learn lessons for this life that will make us more like Him in character, in desires and in conduct. Every day we are to be in His presence being taught from the Scriptures this is what He prayed for us in John 17:17. This is how we know His will and purpose for our lives so that He is truly our Good Shepherd, who leads us in green pastures and still waters, whose rod and staff comforts us.
How do we know that we have been set free? Jesus Christ is the truth (John 14:6) and for us to be freed from sin then we have to put our trust in Him, follow and abide in Him. We have our confidence and hope in Christ. Every day we are to ask, “how much have I relied on the Lord for the provision, wisdom, joy and all that I need for this life and godliness?” Never should we lose our focus in Christ. He is the one we are to wholly and solely depend on and wait upon. We show our dependence on Christ when we are constantly reading from what He has revealed to us in His Word. Many times we fail to see the abundance and riches of Christ because we do not know what He has said in His Word. He has given us promises on which we are to depend. When we do not know the promises then we do not know how to pray since we do not know His will. When we do not pray according to His will does He hear us? May the Lord help us to follow Him more closely and faster that we may be free from sin that so easily entangle us and keep us from being sanctified for the glory to come – Amen.