Well, I’m back in the saddle again, after taking a week off for vacation.
This is the Wednesday night sermon for July 16th, 2008.
John part 37
The slavery to sin
Tonight, we are going to look at the fact that the only freedom we have from sin in knowing the truth. This truth is only found in Jesus Christ. When He makes someone free, they are totally, unquestionably free.
Now last time we were together, we looked at John 8:31-32. We saw the condition of true discipleship – continuing and abiding in Him. We also saw the result of true discipleship – freedom!
Tonight’s sermon is quite difficult for me to interpret. The reason that I’m saying this is because if my understanding is correct, the words of rebuke that Jesus is saying here is to none other than the Jews who had believed in Him earlier.
Context is key here, as it is in all Scripture. Let’s look at verses 30-32. This will give you an idea of perhaps who Jesus was talking too here.
John 8:30-32 ESV – As he was saying these things, many believed in him. (31) So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, (32) and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Here some Jews, (the NET Bible says in its study notes that these are probably residents of Jerusalem that were listening to Jesus teachings) heard what Jesus said and began believing in Him. Jesus cautioned them to abide in His word (AMP, “hold fast to my teachings and live in accordance to them”), and that would be the evidence that they are true disciples, and the truth of Christ and His teachings would set them free.
I believe that Jesus was obviously going beyond a mere passive belief in Him, but to truly become students, and followers of His – hence the term I like to use, “Christ-followers”.
It is in this context that these Jews get upset and a new discussion is started here.
Tonight, we are primarily going to be using the Amplified Bible in our studying of the text. Let’s look into the text and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us.
1. The people deny that they are in bondage.
John 8:33 AMP – They answered Him, We are Abraham’s offspring (descendants) and have never been in bondage to anybody. What do You mean by saying, You will be set free?
A. Here is where I have to part with all the scholars I’ve read in this passage.
And yes I’m sure that many of them are much more wiser than I am, but I’ve got to go with what I see from the text itself. Almost all commentators or scholars I’ve read said that here Jesus is not talking to the Jews that believed in Him, but the Jews who didn’t. I do not see this from the text. Remember verses 30-33, Jesus has told those Jews who believed in Him to abide in His teachings, or obey them, and this obedience will show that they are truly His disciples. Notice verse 33 begins, with, “They answered Him.” Who are they, none other than I believe the Jews who had believed in Him. I think Jesus is talking about a deeper experience that the Father draws true believers too. It is greater than a superficial belief in Him, but a belief that compels them by the Holy Spirit to follow Jesus and what He said – His teachings.
James says something very similar.
James 2:19&26 ESV – 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.
B. These Jews appeal to their heritage and deny that they are in bondage or slavery.
They are children of Abraham; there is no way that they can be in bondage. But they and their descendants have been in bondage to several things:
• Currently under Roman occupation.
• Bondage and slavery to religious tradition.
• Bondage and slavery to sin.
C. Since they deny their bondage, how can they be made free?
D. The first step to freedom from bondage is to recognize the bondage.
This goes for both believers and non-believers. How can we be made free if we don’t recognize or even acknowledge the bondage? This is where we need to be in prayer. Not only for others, but for ourselves as well. That God would open up our understanding to these bondages, so that we may apply His truth and be free.
2. The first proof of bondage – people commit sin.
John 8:34-36 AMP – 34 Jesus answered them, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, Whoever commits and practices sin is the slave of sin. 35 Now a slave does not remain in a household permanently (forever); the son [of the house] does remain forever. 36 So if the Son liberates you [makes you free men], then you are really and unquestionably free.
A. Jesus answers their question about how they are in bondage and slavery. – the fact that they commit sin proves that they are in bondage.
This is not just true of the listeners to Jesus that day – but this is true of all of us. Everyone, both Jew and Gentile are born under sin (Romans 3:9) and commit sin. And whether we acknowledge it or not, everyone born on this earth has been born into bondage and slavery – it is a bondage and slavery to sin.
In Greek the sin that Jesus is describing is not the missing the mark type of sin, but the lifestyle of sin, the habitual sin that has someone in bondage. Look what John says in another one of his writings.
1 John 3:4-8 ESV – Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
B. Notice what v. 36 in our text and v. 8 in 1 John have in common.
They both talk about the way to be set free from the lifestyle (ESV practice) of sin is by the Son. He appeared to destroy the bondage and slavery of sin in the life of the believer.
C. The fact of the matter is these Jews appeared to be religious, and even put some type of belief in Christ Jesus.
But they were still bound in the slavery of sin. Only abiding in Christ, and obeying His commands can set them free from sin. To break free from the cycle and lifestyle of practicing sin takes divine intervention. And this is what Jesus came to do for us who follow after Him – He breaks sins power over us. If we sin, it is not out of a lifestyle or bondage for the believer, but it is missing the mark, messing up. And the Lord forgives this when we confess it too Him.
3. The second proof of bondage – The word has no place in the one who refuses to follow after Christ and His teachings.
John 8:37 AMP – [Yes] I know that you are Abraham’s offspring; yet you plan to kill Me, because My word has no entrance (makes no progress, does not find any place) in you.
A. They could accept Jesus if He just performed signs and didn’t teach – this is clear throughout John.
But they couldn’t and wouldn’t accept what He had to say. This is the second proof of bondage. Bondage to sin blinded them to their condition and the only source of freedom from that condition – Jesus Christ.
Because of this blindness, the word they heard Him teach didn’t make find any place in them.
It didn’t make an entrance, and impact, or make any progress. This is why it is so important to be in prayer for non-believers. They cannot and will not see the truth in and of themselves because they are in bondage to sin. Only the Father can draw them and the Holy Spirit can bring light to the truth of their condition and the truth of how to be set free.
4. The third proof to bondage – Their refusal to believe proves to whom they really belong too.
John 8:38 AMP – I tell the things which I have seen and learned at My Father’s side, and your actions also reflect what you have heard and learned from your father.
A. Jesus again brings up the contrast between He and them.
This contrast is further proof that He is from above, not of this world, they are from below, of this world.
B. Everything that Jesus did and said He saw and learned at the Father’s side (AMP).
The term, “Father’s side,” is the literal translation of the Greek. It shows the uniqueness of Jesus in His relationship with the Father. Throughout all eternity, He was at the Father’s side. He knew the Father’s thoughts and thought the Father’s thoughts. He knew the Father’s actions and performed the Father’s actions. He and the Father were completely one in every aspect that this word represents, yet they were also their own individual person. Jesus, now on earth, is teaching and doing everything that is in the Father’s plan and will because He was always at the Father’s side and therefore always knew the Father’s plan and will. His actions always reflected this fact.
C. These Jews on the other hand – their actions also reflected who their father was and what they learned from Him.
The fact that they may have some superficial belief will be changed when Jesus begins teaching and they abandon or don’t believe what He says. Their refusal to truly believe and obey prove who their father is. In fact, John later reveals who their father really is.
John 8:44 ESV – 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 has nothing to do with 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.
5. The fourth proof – Their refusal to follow Abraham’s example.
John 8:39-40 AMP – 39 They retorted, Abraham is our father. Jesus said, If you were [truly] Abraham’s children, then you would do the works of Abraham [follow his example, do as Abraham did]. 40 But now [instead] you are wanting and seeking to kill Me, a Man Who has told you the truth which I have heard from God. This is not the way Abraham acted.
A. The Jews, being offended appeal to Abraham as their Father.
B. Jesus proves that though they may be physical descendants of Abraham, they are in fact not following Abraham’s example. What was Abraham’s example?
When God Almighty (I believe Jesus Christ) appeared to Abraham, He welcomed him into His home, listened to the words He said, believed what He said, and became obedient to what He said. These Jews did the exact opposite. In fact, though earlier they claimed a belief, they are getting angry and having murder in their hearts toward Jesus. They will join the rest of the crowd wanting to kill Jesus.
Mere superficial belief is not enough to bring someone to saving faith. It is a denial of self, accepting Jesus as the only way, truth, and life; and following His teachings.
Abraham accepted God Almighty and welcomed Him in His home. He listened and believed what He spoke.
Let’s follow Abraham’s example. When we read the word, let’s really endeavor to understand and be obedient to what we read. We need help. The Holy Spirit is there to help you, all it takes is for you to ask Him.