If You Abide
John 8:31-33 ESV
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’?”
I find this interesting that Jesus spoke these words to those who “believed” in him. Was this just an intellectual belief? It must have been, because Jesus was instructing them in what is required for them to truly be free from their slavery to sin. They have to abide in His Word, and to abide means to live in His Word, and His Word in them, in all practicality and personal application to their lives. For, true faith in Jesus Christ is evidenced by what we DO.
So, what he was telling them (and us, too), is that if we want to genuinely be saved from our sins and to have the hope of eternal life with God, we have to do more than just believe in him with an intellectual belief or with an acknowledgment of him. We have to be crucified with Christ in death to sin and be raised with him to newness of life in him, created to be LIKE GOD in true RIGHTEOUSNESS and HOLINESS (Eph. 4:17-24; Rom. 6:1-23).
Yet, they were convinced that they were not living in slavery and thus they didn’t need to be set free from anything, because of their religious heritage.
And, there are many people today who believe similarly, that a mere acknowledgment of Jesus or a confession of faith in him is enough to secure them heaven as their eternal destiny, and that nothing else is required of them. They don’t see their salvation as freedom from slavery to sin but merely as forgiveness of sin and the absence of punishment for their sin.
Whoever Practices Sin
John 8:34-36 ESV
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.
So, what does it mean to “practice” sin? I find many people who would debate what this means. Does it have to do with frequency? Or how many different sins you are addicted to? What determines whether or not someone is one who “practices” sin or if they are just one who irregularly sins?
Well, it definitely means one who is living a life of sin, who does so habitually, and whose life is not characterized by walking (living) by the Spirit of God. But, again, at what frequency rate of sin is it determined that one is living in sin as opposed to occasionally committing individual sins? I have been asked these questions. To me, the mere fact that someone is asking these questions can very well speak to how they are living.
Definition of practice (Google): “the customary, habitual, or expected procedure or way of doing of something.”
I believe this has to do not just with frequency of sin, but the repetitive nature of sin. This is about someone who repeats the same sins over and over and over again, and coupled with the same attitudes, the same excuses, the same arguments, the same lies and justifications, the same body language, same abuse, same fights and quarrels, and same heart.
They who live like this are like on a cul-de-sac going around in circles, repeating the same cycles of behavior over and over again, and they don’t ever get out of that cycle and truly move forward, even if they do make some modifications of behavior along the way. And, the reason for that is that they have not had a true change of heart. They are still operating out of the same old heart, with flesh still on the throne of their lives.
And, they may argue that we can’t see their hearts, so how do we know? Well, the scriptures teach that out of our hearts come all sorts of evil practices, and out of our hearts our mouths speak. So what is in the heart can be evident by what comes out on a consistent and habitual basis. Also, our faith is evident by what we DO, not by what we profess, so what we DO reveals not only what is in our hearts but what we truly believe, too.
Not of God
John 8:39-47 ESV
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.”
There are people in high up positions in the world and in the institutional church who are fostering and nurturing a gospel message that is contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ, although the two share similar elements of truth. And, this message has trickled down to local fellowships of the church, most particularly within the institutional church. And, its purpose truly is to put to death the true gospel and its messengers (to knock them down and out).
So, those of us who are still teaching the full gospel message (the whole counsel of God), and not this diluted, altered and reduced cheap grace gospel, are under attack. And, the goal of our attackers is to try to discredit us in some way so that they will have cause for accusing us falsely, just like Jesus’ opposition (his opponents) tried to do to him, and then did to him.
But, that is not the only purpose. It is also to lead people away from true faith in Jesus Christ which puts sin to death, and which lives for his righteousness. So, they take the parts of the gospel that they like, mainly God’s promises, and they apply them across the board to anyone who just barely acknowledges Jesus Christ as Savior, or who just accepts his grace.
The purpose of the true gospel of our salvation is that we might die with Christ to sin and live with Christ to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. It is to restore us back to a right relationship with God to where we are now his possession, and we are to honor and glorify him in all that we do and are and say (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; 1 Co. 6:20; Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
But, they have turned it into play time. Now faith in Jesus Christ, under the cheap grace gospel, gives full liberty to continue in slavery to sin, to just play games with God, but not really with God. And, church has largely become about just having fun, being entertained, having stage productions, amusing people, and making their customer base feel comfortable, at home, at ease, and not offended in any way by the truth of the gospel.
And, this is deliberate, and it is of Satan, who wants no one to follow Jesus in obedience, but for all to desert Christ in order to follow him, instead, but while convinced that they are followers of Christ and bound for heaven for eternity.
So, there are a lot of people out there in this world claiming faith in Jesus Christ who are still living in slavery to sin. And, while they claim they are serving Christ, they are truly serving the devil by how they live their lives. They are willful, disobedient, childish, immature, self-indulging, seeking self-pleasure, and they feel that they don’t have to obey Christ or repent of their sins but that they are still going to heaven when they die.
Truly there is no place for God’s Word in their lives, thus they are not abiding in Christ and his Word abiding in them, so they are not true disciples of Christ, they don’t know or believe the whole truth, and thus they are not free from their slavery to sin, and they are not bound for heaven, but hell.
And, it isn’t just that they reject the truth and cling to the lies, but that they are literally fighting against the truth and its messengers, because they want to hold on to the lies, for the lies let them live however they want. So, their will is not to do God’s will, but the will of the devil. They don’t believe the truth of the gospel because they are not of God. But, whoever is of God believes the whole counsel of God, and they live the truth they believe, not in absolute perfection, but in practice, as a matter of their life course.
So, we have to believe this truth that Jesus says here and in other places, and that is that if we truly are his by faith in him, that we will love him, and to love him is to obey him, and that it will be evident if we are truly his by how we live our lives, either for the flesh or for the Spirit (in practice).
By Ann Aschauer
Well, some folks think that “love” means emotion,
So it comes and goes their whole life through.
Some folks never know that when the magic goes,
If you keep on lovin’, it’ll come back to you.
I was so afraid we’d lose the special feeling,
And someday we’d find our love wasn’t true,
But then God opened up my eyes and made me realize,
Love is not what you feel, it’s what you do.
And so we stood side by side at the altar,
As our wills and God’s power combined.
With His help I could say, “I do love you today,
And I will for a long, long time.”
c 1987 Ann Aschauer