31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed 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.”
I am hit yet again this morning with the critical distinction that Jesus is making here.
Notice here who His audience is. He is not speaking to the masses who are hanging around waiting for the next free meal, or rebuking a Pharisee who lays in opposition to Jesus’ authority, or a Roman emperor who is threatened by the rebellion Jesus is stirring up.
Jesus is speaking to the Jews who believes in Him.
So what is Jesus’ teaching for these acknowledged believers?
“If you abide in my word you are truly my disciples”
accept or act in accordance with (a rule, decision, or recommendation)
There are clearly two forces at work in the heart of every Christian. Paul speaks of his own battle between flesh and spirit, what he wants to do he cannot and what he doesn’t want to do he does.
Or the warning in Galatians 5 of the battle between evil and righteousness at war within and that any man living under two authorities “will not inherit the kingdom”.
These are bold warnings that our obedience matters.
But there must be a balance in our hearts.
For me, a recovering addict, Satan’s greatest tool is to use God’s word to condemn me, to always remind me how short I fall and in that I can never find peace, believe that I am truly set free.
Just as Jesus was tested first thing after being baptized and having the Holy Spirit descend upon Him for all to see, He used scripture to combat Satan’s temptations.
I believe we can take great joy in the promise of being set free by remaining confident in Jesus’ own words found John.
And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.
The convictions in the heart of a person being sanctified by the blood of Christ is one that never looses sight of our sin and works out with mighty reverence for God a faith that aches for the transformation of heart to be one of Christ-likeness.
Our shared struggle to be like the Apostle Paul and be able to claim with confidence that “my conscious is clear” I believe is the obedience God is looking for.
We cannot address the failings of the heart which have not been revealed to us, but if you are anything like me, there is a smorgasbord of conscious sins that I wrestle with on a daily basis and rarely can I rest at night saying “my conscious is clear.
He knows that we will forever fall short in this body of flesh and in this broken world, but the one who perseveres in defiance of the flesh, the one who lives free and joyous and alive and thrives in spite of the darkness around us and shines the light of salvation for others to see, it is truly him who is set free.
The convictions of Christ are for our joy, not our suffering. To be set free is to strive for perfect adherence to the law but to temper that with the understanding that no matter how often we come up short, the cross covers the debt.
He is not looking for perfection, He is looking for the transformed heart that desires above all to walk in love, God’s definition of love. To love ALL others as ourselves, to follow Christ, to be a light on a hill, to live joyous and free because of who He is.
Our freedom transcends this life, our trials are only stepping stones to glory. There is no condemnation on those who believe, but true freedom comes from living free from resentments towards others, free from condemnation that comes from within, walking in the light, His light.
Father God, You set me free. Not because of anything I have done or earned or deserve or could even have dreamed up, but because You loved me in creation, you loved me as you walked the earth, You loved me as you went to the cross, You loved me as you ascended, You loved me through Your mercy when You rescued me from the deep depression and self-destructive ways, You love me now as Your word both presses on my heart to change my thoughts about others and myself and You love me by offering grace in those times that I don’t get it. You love me in the hope that you give me, in the ways that you guide my path, in the ways that you fill each day with blessings of food, water, shelter, transportation, Christ-centered friendships, the ability to praise and worship You in public without condemnation, in my freedom. You have set me free Lord and I am and will remain eternally grateful for as long as Your promise of renewal and redemption by Your blood and Spirit stays within me. I believe my faith is by Your grace alone Lord, I could not love You without You first loving me and giving me these desires, desires that are transforming my entire life. I pray that Your glory shine brightly through all those who call ourselves believers and may we be given the heart and hands and overwhelming desires to live as Your disciples, free and alive in You. Thank you Jesus, in Your precious name I pray…