Truth That Can Set You Free, But You Have to Believe It
Title: TRUTH THAT CAN SET YOU FREE, BUT YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE IT
Text: John 8:30-59
For a couple of lessons now we have been looking at a long debate Jesus has been having with the Pharisees concerning His authority to give grace to the woman caught in adultery. With the style of a superb debater, Jesus dismisses her accusers with just a few words, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” One by one they leave. Now He turns His attention to the Jews who have a short-lived, intellection faith. Jesus clarified the faith He expected in His followers: “If you abide in My Word, then you are truly disciples of Mine.” Since the Holy Spirit and Jesus are intimately one with each other, Jesus was able to see the level of commitment that resided in their heart…and it came up lacking. You can quote a truth, but unless you believe it, the freedom it can bring will fall far short of the salvation that could be yours. Demons believe in Jesus and tremble…but it did not change one iota of their corrupt walk. That’s hard to comprehend when your realize that the demons were once angels who stood in Jesus’ presence but were cast out of Heaven when they chose to side with Lucifer (Satan). This stands as a stern warning to anyone who thinks they can isolate the truth from their heart and choose to live in sin in spite of that knowledge. Heb. 10:26-27; 2 Pet. 2:4-9
As we can see, making a self-commitment is essential to true faith…the faith that saves. Knowing and abiding in the truth (Jn. 8:32) means to welcome it, live by it daily as it becomes a part of a permanent influence. When you do, you will begin a fresh walk unlike your past; you will grow in God’s goodness and holiness. That’s righteousness that comes by faith.
1. Would you say that Christ’s word is indistinguishable from Christ Himself? Would you then say that He is the Word? Jn. 1:1, 14 So then, why is it that at times we are not true to our word? What is needed to keep our word consistent with our walk? (We need to stay within an earshot of His voice, listening to His prompting when we consider doing the wrong thing; we need to make a daily decision that this day I will abide in Christ.)
2. What do you think is the biggest hindrance from people making a personal surrender to Christ? What do you think is Satan’s biggest work in this area? (You’ve got time tomorrow, so have fun today; blinding them from the truth and keeping them believing a lie.)
3. From what you can gather from the text, what was keeping the Jews from believing the truth? (Their reliance on their ancestry from Abraham’s seed. 8:33) Explain the difference between a blind trust in ceremonies, rituals, traditions, and knowing the truth so that it sets you free. (Man’s greatest need is to know what is his greatest need! The Jews only imagined they were spiritually free, but they had no understanding of their real need.)
Insight: Freedom is not unrestrained indulgence in anything we may want to do when we want it. Freedom is being what God intended us to be when we are free from the enslavement of sin. You know you are free in your soul when you experience the joy of knowing God intimately and find loving fulfillment in serving Him. And the way TO freedom is mapped out by the words of Jesus Christ! “And you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”
4. Their confidence in the covenant that Abraham had with God led them to think they were not slaves, but free. How did Jesus stop them dead in their tracks to show them they were not free? (8:34) Explain how sin makes you a slave. (Sin blinds you, and you walk around with the illusion, thinking your are OK, when in reality your are lost. The person who chooses sin is bound by invisible chains.)
5. Even though the Jews were claiming to be offspring of Abraham, how did Jesus state their life revealed otherwise? (8:39-40 You become a slave to sin when you habitually assert your own will to live a self-centered life. Such a person is confined to the prison cell of their own lust.)
6. How does their response in verse 41 reveal how they were still thinking? (They were implying they were not like the Samaritans, descended from an unholy union of Jew & heathen, nor were they guilty of idolatry. They considered themselves as keepers of the Law, not slaves of corruption.)
Insight: They were bitter towards Jesus for telling them they were blind to the truth about themselves, and when He points out to them that only the truth which comes from full surrender to Himself can liberate them. Until they were willing to do so, they remained spiritually enslaved. Imagined freedom still has chains wrapped around the soul; denial does not loosen the chains.
7. Jesus then confronts them with the truth that if God was indeed their Father, then they would love Him also. Does that hold true for us? Can we say we know God and not love our brother? 1 Jn. 4:20-21
8. Verse 43 has a profound insight into the hearts of others when we witness to them. What are the various ways of “listening”, and which is described in this verse? (One you hear with your ear, but not with your heart; the other with both. They did not listen with their heart.) Jn 6:60; Jer. 6:10; Acts 7:51; Rom. 8:6-8
9. Since it is obvious that they did not love Him and thus God was not their Father, who did Jesus say their spiritual father was? (8:44 the devil) Verse 44 states three truths about Satan. What are they? (He is a murderer; there is no truth in him; whenever he speaks, it is a lie.)
Insight: Perk your ears up when you hear a half-truth. And to refuse to understand the truth is unmistakable evidence that you are a spiritual descendant from the devil himself. Half-truths are still a lie…and the author of them is Satan! Don’t fall to the same tactic he used on Adam, Eve and Jesus! The first step to spiritual freedom is to recognize our slavery and realize we have no power of our own to liberate ourselves. Slaves cannot emancipate themselves. We need a Savior. Jesus Christ it is He! Jn. 8:47
10. What does verse 48 tell you about how they are thinking of Jesus at this point? At this point, if it were I, I would have been pretty ticked, but Jesus was not. How did Jesus respond? (“I don’t have a demon; I don’t seek any glory; you dishonor me.”)
11. If you aren’t careful, a huge truth will slip by you in verse 51. What is it? (If anyone keeps Jesus Word, they shall never see death.) Jn. 5:24; Jn. 14:23-24; Rev. 3:10
12. How does verse 52 reveal the Jew’s position at this time? (They are convinced He has a demon and that they think Him to be a fool when He says that if anyone keeps His word they will never die.)
13. How does verse 54 reveal that Jesus was not “in it for Himself” while He was here on earth?
14. How could Jesus make the statement “Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad”? (Because of Jesus’ divine nature, he pre-existed Abraham; Jesus could see Abraham from afar.) Jn. 8:58; Gen. 22:18; Ga 3:7-9; Heb 11:13,39
Verse 59 reveals the bottom-line truth of their evaluation of Jesus…they did not listen to His truth. “Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the temple.” Once again, because His time had not yet come, Jesus slips from their grasp. The disbelief is strong…the anger is kindled…death is in their eyes…all they have to do is set the trap. But even then, traps cannot hold the Son of Man unless He wills it to be so…when the hour of His passion has come.
There is a bottom line application we cannot evade from this chapter. Don’t you leave this study until you have come to grips with it: Not to accept Jesus on His own terms is to reject Him! And to reject Him is to spit in the face of Him who holds the keys of Death and Hades…He who would let you in if He knew you!
Rev. 1:12-18; Matt. 7:21-27