John – “But Who Do You Say That I Am?” – John 8:31-36

In the last post in this study of John’s Gospel, we looked at the best ways and worst ways to die. We learned the best ways to die is believing in Christ, having confidence in His work, and being fixed on His Word but the worst ways to die is in unrepented sin, self righteousness, and in worldliness. In this post, this is going to be a continuation, of sorts, of those points but this time, we are going to look at the best ways and worst ways to live.

One of the most precious things to people is freedom. Nations have gone to war over it including our own country. On July 4th 1776, 56 men signed a document called The Declaration of Independence the beginning of it which reads…

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Please note to all the atheists who say our country was not founded in the belief of God in the words “by their Creator”! Anyway, they are talking about having freedom in this document. People love freedom. We love the freedom to do what we want and when we want. I do believe, however, that there is a thing called having too much freedom something that our country suffers from. Freedom has to have boundaries or problems result which America is dealing with today. Those boundaries are in God’s Word. When God’s Word is discarded, as our nation is desperately trying to do right now, that nation and its people are headed for destruction. Israel learned this lesson the hard way many times.

All of this aside, people have their own opinions of what true freedom is. There is this joke that I heard from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Albuquerque while listening to his message preparing for this post. He told his congregation…

“There was an Englishman who said true happiness is when you come home and find your slippers warmed by the fire. A Frenchman overheard him and said you English are so unromantic. True happiness is dinner out with your beautiful wife in a fine restaurant. A Russian was overhearing them speak and he said you’re both wrong. True happiness is when you are in bed at night and you get a knock on the door at 2 in the morning and it’s the Secret Police and they say Ivan Ivanovich? You’re under arrest. And you say to them oh sorry, Ivan Ivanovich lives next door!”

Funny joke but it’s a matter of perspective. Even though we live in a nation that enjoys political freedoms, for the moment anyway, there are millions in our country that do not live in spiritual freedom. They do not believe in Jesus Christ and will not accept Him into their lives. Living in Christ is true freedom and is, by far, the best way to live whereas not believing Him not accepting Him is living in spiritual slavery and, by far, is the worst way to live which we will see in this passage that we are going to look at in this post. A lot of ground to cover so let’s get started! As always the text link for the entire chapter and audio are included so you can follow along. Before we get started, let’s pray…

Father,

Thank You for the glorious blessings that You bestow on our lives. Thank You also for the trials and tribulations that we go through as well because they make us stronger and we learn from them. Give us stronger backs Lord to help those burdens when we have to carry them. You are great  O Lord our God for there is none like You nor is there any other god besides You! Your Word is true and You have promised us goodness, truth, and knowledge through it. Bless this time in Your Word that we are about to partake it in again and make it fruitful for Your servants. We put away all distractions and are ready to hear what You have to say. Speak Lord for Your servants are listening! In the saving name of Jesus Christ we pray…Amen!

John 8

Let’s look at the passage for this post, a short one only five verses…

(31) Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. (32) And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (33) They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?” (34) Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. (35) And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. (36) Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. … John 8:31-36 NKJV

In this short passage, Jesus tells the crowd, and us, the best way and the worst way to live life. He focuses on the best way first. The best way to live life is in freedom that is, the freedom of authentic discipleship that comes in the belief of Jesus Christ as we look at verses 31 and 32. …

vv 31-32 – (31) Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. (32) And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

This group that Jesus is addressing here, is different than the group that John talks about in verse 30. In verse 30, John says…

(30) As He spoke these words, many believed in Him. … John 8:30 NKJV

In the last post, I erroneously put a comment about not knowing if John was talking about true believers here. Turns out though, he probably was because there is a distinct difference in the wording of this verse versus the wording of verse 31. In verse 30, John says many believed in Him but in verse 31, John says who believed Him. The word in is missing. Not all belief is saving faith and these two verses show proof of that. The first group described in verse 30 are the people who were convicted by Christ’s words and turned to Him and trusted fully in Him. However the people in the second group just believed, or liked is more like it, some of the things that Jesus said and the things that He did. This group describes many Christians here in this country…just there for the show. They want to see miracles and are looking for the blessings on their lives and that’s all. Their faith has no root or foundation. Did you know that Satan and his followers believe in God? In the letter that James writes, he says…

(19) You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! … James 2:19 NKJV

Another description of this group in verse 31 is also described back in Chapter 2 of John’s Gospel. Turning back there, John says…

(23) Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. (24) But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, (25) and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man. … John 2:23-25 NKJV

Jesus also describes this group in the parable of the farmer sowing seed, the seed that falls in stony places. In Matthew, Jesus tells His disciples…

(20) But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; (21) yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. … Matthew 13:20-21 NKJV

This describes these people in verse 31 to a “t” because these people will be the ones yelling, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” to Pilate later on.

So how can you tell that you have a saving faith? Jesus tells us as we continue in verse 31. He continues on saying If you abide in My word. you are My disciples indeed. Notice the word abide. It is one of John’s favorite words. The word abide appears 34 times in The New Testament and John hijacks it 31 times! LOL! That’s because Jesus uses it 11 times in John’s Gospel. In the King Jimmie version, the word is continue, the Greek word menō  which means just that…to continue on or to abide. One of the ways to know if you are a true disciple of Jesus Christ is whether or not you are continuing on in His Word. In other words, are you continuing to grow and learn as a Christian or are you like so many Christians in this country that never crack open a Bible, never see what God’s Word says about issues facing us in life and in our nation, and are “dalmatian” Christians that get their Bible sources from just Sunday sermons and daily devotional e-mails? Real disciples are committed to continuing in His truth. They are constantly learning and growing spiritually. That’s actually the definition of a disciple, a learner, the Greek word mathetes. If we continue on, or abide, in His Word then the truth will set us free. Look at verse 32 again…

v 32 – (32) And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

In this verse, Jesus is talking about knowledge about Himself. Jesus makes the promise that if we are true disciples that you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. In our nation, tolerance is the guiding principle now. Tolerance that is unless of course you are a true Christian. As far as I’m concerned, God’s Word was thrown out of our nation years ago. It is the main reason why our nation is in such turmoil and divided. We are looking for a person to solve America’s problems instead of turning to the one who can…Jesus Christ. It’s not just unbelievers that we’re talking about here by the way. According to Newsweek, 85% of Christians in America believe there are other paths to heaven even though Jesus emphatically denies this in John 14:6. Believers look for other ways, people, and other outlets to help them through life instead of looking for the answers in God’s Word. In many ways, the Christians of today are just like the Jews that Jesus is addressing here in this passage. They are blinded by ignorance and political correctness in bondage of sin and this is the worst way to live as we move on to verse 33. …

v 33 – (33) They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?”

When Jesus uttered those words the truth shall make you free, the Jews took offense to it almost immediately and what follows is probably one of the most ignorant and non factual statements in The Bible. The Jews quickly tell Jesus, We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been in bondage to anyone. This was a case of forgetting one’s history. For the most part, the Jews had always been in bondage. They suffered 400 years of bondage at the hands of the Egyptians. Then during the time of the Judges (The Book of Judges in The Bible), various countries and kings held them captive with their rule. They suffered under the Philistines and also endured 70 years of captivity in Babylon and Assyria.The Medo-Persians were next, Greece would conquer them and to top it all off at the very time that they were making this statement, they were under the rule of Rome! The statement, we are Abraham’s descendants, was the belief that they were highly favored by God and had an automatic ticket to heaven. Again, nothing could have been further from the truth because God punished the Jews several times for their disobedience and now because they were denying their Messiah, they would suffer God’s punishment again after Jesus was crucified. The statement of the Jews being God’s people is true but it means that they are the example of how God will judge the rest of the world and its people by how He deals with the Jews and Israel…reward for obedience and punishment for disobedience. This statement that the Jews make here though shows that they were totally in the dark that Jesus was talking about spiritual freedom. The worst form of slavery is sin that has a hold of your life moving on to verse 34 and finishing out the passage…

vv 34-36 – (34) Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. (35) And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. (36) Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

The analogy that Jesus uses here is like a relationship between a slave and his master. A slave is not the master of his life. He can’t do what he wants to do. He can only do what his master tells him to do. Sin can be just like that…a master. It can can control our lives and dictate our actions. The worst way to live is being a prisoner of something that you can’t get out of. If you are living your life this way, a prisoner of sin, only Jesus can help you out of it and make you the person that God intended you to be.

Slaves did not remain in the master’s house forever. The only way a slave could do that was if he decided that he wanted to become more of a son to the master rather than just a slave. In that case, the slave had his ear pierced with an awl against a door post. The ceremony is described in Exodus 21. …

(5) But if the servant plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ (6) then his master shall bring him to the judges. He shall also bring him to the door, or to the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him forever. … Exodus 21:5-6 NKJV

This was a future picture of Christ being nailed to the cross. When we turn to Jesus and accept Him and the work of the cross, we are no longer slaves of sin and we become sons (and daughters) of God!

If we turn to Jesus, He will make us free. Those are His words and His promise you shall be free indeed. What does that exactly mean though when Jesus says that He will make us free? One thing this doesn’t mean though is He doesn’t make us free to do what we want like so many Christians seem to believe. Many of us come to Christ then unhitch the wagon and do what we want and come back to Him only when it’s convenient for us. That’s not continuing on in His Word or discipleship. What He means is that He gives us the freedom to follow God. Another thing though is coming to Jesus doesn’t necessarily give us freedom of the consequences of sin the minute we turn to Him. There is a price to pay many times for a sinful lifestyle. For example if you commit adultery and your wife divorces you because of it and then you turn to Christ and repent, it doesn’t mean your wife is going to come back to you. If you murder someone and you’re tried and convicted and sent to prison for life but while you’re in there, you decide to turn to Christ, it doesn’t mean you’re going to be set free. When a son or daughter turns from their parents and then decides to come back to them, the parent welcomes them back with love but there is still going to be some type of punishment for disobeying them. It’s the same way when we turn our lives over to Christ. He welcomes us back with love but sometimes He will leave us in certain situations or certain people as punishment for straying in the first place. He will do this sometimes to show His power and glory through us. Here’s a perfect example. In 2 Corinthians, Paul talks about a “thorn” he prayed for the Lord to remove. Many people joke and say it was his wife! LOL! Most commentators tend to believe though it had something to do with his eyesight. Whatever this “thorn” was though, it bothered Paul tremendously. He writes in 2 Corinthians…

(7) And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. (8) Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. (9) And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (10) Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. … 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NKJV

Another freedom that you enjoy when you turn your life over to Christ is freedom from fear. Have you ever met someone who is afraid and worried about EVERYTHING!? Worried about the air, worried about the water, worried about climate change, worried about the food they eat, worried about their health, worried about the government, worried about world unrest etcetera etcetera etcetera. It’s probably a safe bet that they do not have a relationship with our Lord. When you place your life and trust in the hands of Jesus, a relaxing calm comes over you and the things that happen in the world around you don’t bother you as much. You don’t go around believing you are invincible and tempting fate but you’re not afraid of everything either because you know who is ultimately in control and where you’re ultimate destiny lies. Again Paul says in 2 Corinthians…

(17) For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, (18) while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. … 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NKJV

In closing, this is the best takeaway of what it means to abide with the Lord and have true freedom when we come to him. It’s Psalm 112. Psalm 112 says, and I’ll close with this…

Praise the LORD! Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, Who delights greatly in His commandments. (2) His descendants will be mighty on earth; The generation of the upright will be blessed. (3) Wealth and riches will be in his house, And his righteousness endures forever. (4) Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness; He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous. (5) A good man deals graciously and lends; He will guide his affairs with discretion. (6) Surely he will never be shaken; The righteous will be in everlasting remembrance. (7) He will not be afraid of evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD. (8) His heart is established; He will not be afraid, Until he sees his desire upon his enemies. (9) He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever; His horn will be exalted with honor. (10) The wicked will see it and be grieved; He will gnash his teeth and melt away; The desire of the wicked shall perish. … Psalms 112:1-10 NKJV

If you are ready to enjoy this kind of confidence and inner peace in your life, then you can do so today by turning to Jesus. Just pray this simple short prayer. Remember it really doesn’t matter what you say. What matters is that what you say comes from your heart!…

“Dear Lord, I admit that I am a sinner. I have done many things that don’t please you. I have lived my life for myself. I am sorry and I repent. I ask you to forgive me. I believe that you died on the cross for me, to save me. You did what I could not do for myself. I come to you now and ask you to take control of my life, I give it to you. Help me to live every day in a way that pleases you. I love you, Lord, and I thank you that I will spend all eternity with you. Amen.”