John 8:31-32 NIV
“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’”
There are many people today who are teaching that God’s love for us is unconditional. Is it? It is in the sense that we do nothing to earn or to deserve his love. He doesn’t love us because of our own goodness, but because he is love. In that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.
But how they teach his unconditional love is that God loves us no matter what we do. No matter if we ignore him, make sin our practice, deny him as Lord of our lives, he still adores us and he showers us with his blessings, so they say. Basically, we can live a life of total denial of him and they teach that will never stop God from loving us and showering us with blessings.
But is that biblical?
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.” Jn. 14:15, 21, 23-24
“If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.” Jn. 15:10
So, is there a difference between the love God has for the whole world in that he sent his Son Jesus Christ to die on a cross for our sins, and the love he has for his followers, which is an intimate relationship kind of love? I believe there is. For, those who do not believe in Jesus don’t experience the love of God in the same way we do who are in Christ, by faith in him.
So, is our relationship with Jesus Christ conditional? Yes! Not only must we believe on him to have eternal life, but we must abide in his love, and we must keep his (New Covenant) commandments, and we must hold to his teaching and to our faith to the very end, and we must walk, not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit, and we must not disown him.
But none of this can be accomplished in and of ourselves, of our own doing and choosing, and of our own flesh. It is only as the Spirit of God indwells us and empowers us to live righteously that we can live in his righteousness.
[See also Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 2:3-6, 24-25; 1 Co 15:2; Col 1:21-23; 2 Tim 2:10-13; Hebrews 3:6, 14-15; Jn 15:1-12; Lu 9:23-26]
John 8:33-38 NIV
“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?’
“Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So, if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 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. I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.’”
Some people think that if their parents claimed to be Christians that it makes them Christians. Or they think that because they grew up in the institutional church that it automatically means they are God’s children. Or they think a verbal confession of faith, or words repeated, or baptism, or Catechism assures them of their salvation and eternal life with God.
But none of that is required for salvation of sin, and none of that assures anyone of being in relationship with Christ, born again of the Spirit of God, forgiven of their sins, and headed to heaven when they die.
Jesus went on to tell them that their father was the devil, and that they wanted to carry out their father’s desires. He said that they were doing the works of their father, the devil, for they were looking for a way to kill Jesus. Yet, they claimed that the only father they had was God.
But Jesus’ words to them set the record straight. If we make sin our practice we are slaves to sin, and that leads to death, not life everlasting. Those who walk (in practice) in sin have no inheritance in God’s eternal kingdom (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; Lu 9:23-26; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8).
So, when this says here that if the Son sets us free that we are free indeed, that does not mean that we can claim to have faith in Jesus Christ, decide therefore that we have been set free from our sin, but then go on living in sin, feeling as though being “free” is merely freedom from the punishment of sin and thus we can keep on in our sin now without guilt or fear of harm.
For, Jesus makes it clear here that if God is our Father, we will love Jesus, and Jesus says that to love him is to obey him (Jn 14:23-24).
And John says that we know that we have come to know Jesus/God if we keep his commands. If we say, “I know him,” but we are not doing what he commands, as a matter of practice, we are liars, and the truth is not in us. But if we are obeying God’s word (under the New Covenant), then love for God is made complete in us (See 1 Jn 2:3-6).
But many who profess faith in Jesus Christ are willfully ignoring this truth because they prefer the lies of the devil, instead. And that is because they want to continue to live in their sin without guilt, and they want the freedom to live however they want, and they don’t want to have to surrender their lives to Jesus Christ. They want to retain control over their own lives.
So, those who are living like this will usually reject the truth when it is presented to them, and they may even attack the truth with lies they heard or with ones they made up themselves. Or they may make excuses for why they are still living in slavery to sin, as though Jesus didn’t die to set them free, and as though they just have to find a way to break their bad habits.
But those who belong to the Lord hear what God says. So, if anyone is not willing to hear the truth of God’s teachings in Scripture on this subject of God’s requirements for us for our eternal salvation, then Scripture says they don’t belong to God. For his sheep listen to him, and they follow him.
Open My Heart
An Original Work / July 2, 2013
“Be wise about what is good and innocent about what is evil” (Rm. 16:19b).
Open my heart. Let Your truth in.
Make of me a servant, pure within;
Sing of Your praise all of my days.
Let Your Spirit transform all my ways.
Jesus Christ died on a cross to
Save me from my sin.
“Repent of sin. Be cleansed within.
Obey all of His commands today.”
“Why do you doubt? Why do you fear?
Jesus Christ will wipe away your tears.
He cares for you. He feels your pain.
Die to sin, and life with Him you’ll gain.
Follow Him where’er He leads you.
Talk with Him each day.
Then you will know what He has planned
For your life before your world began.”
“Come unto Me, weary in heart.
Let My love and grace to you impart.
Believe in Me. Trust in My care.
Take your burdens to the Lord in prayer.
He will meet all of your needs,
And give you peace within.
Rejoice in Him! Tell of His love.
He will give you comfort from above.”