How Faith Can Keep Us From Freedom

April 10, 2017

John 8:31-38

31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.”

CONSIDER THIS

We learn from today’s text it is possible to be a devout, committed, faithful adherent to the truth of a religion or faith and be completely and utterly lost. Jesus is talking to Abraham’s descendants. These were the insiders, the ones who chaired all the important committees, who taught Sunday School and who faithfully gave to the mission. They prayed and fasted and shared with the poor. Yes, they knew, revered, and recited the great creeds of the faith. And of course,they studied and knew the Scriptures.

Who am I talking about? That’s the big surprise.

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

He wasn’t talking to his detractors. No! He was talking “to the Jews who believed him.”

There comes a point in the life of we who claim to “believe” where mere belief will no longer suffice (if it ever did). There is a way of believing that leads to more knowledge, and there is a way of believing that leads to knowing. To be clear, knowledge of God can certainly lead to knowing God, but all too often we amass more knowledge about God that does not lead to knowing him. This way of believing leads to a kind of activity that seems like faithfulness (as in faithfulness to what one knows), but only masquerades as obedience to the Truth.

Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Jesus says it’s not so much belief in the truth but knowing the truth. Truth is a person. Following Jesus, holding to his teaching, leads to knowing him more and knowing him more leads to real freedom. This is not about belief and unbelief but slavery and freedom. The irony comes in how they responded.

They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

Here’s the hard truth. We can be faithful to the forms of faith we have always known all the while remaining enslaved to sin. Strangely enough, our well meaning “faith” can keep us from freedom. We must know Jesus. He will later say, “I am the way and the truth and the life, no-one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) A child of Abraham won’t cut it. A Methodist or a Baptist or a Catholic won’t cut it. Jesus only. Jesus ever. Jesus always.

This is not an attempt to shake otherwise faithful people into fear. It is meant to awaken us to the freedom we do not yet know.

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 

THE PRAYER

Abba Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, who is both our Truth and our Freedom. Awaken us to the fullness of this one who loves us more than life that we may follow him into the life we never knew could be possible. Come Holy Spirit and stir a holy discontent in us for anything less. We pray in Jesus name. Amen.

THE QUESTIONS

  1. Do you see how a well intended “faith” can actually keep us from freedom? Any examples come to mind?

2. How might well intended “Christians” today be functioning in the same manner as the children of Abraham were? How does one break free of this shadow truth and into the real Truth?

3. How is your “knowledge about God” out running your “knowing” Jesus? How can your knowing catch up?

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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. jd.walt@seedbed.com.

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