The Truth that Sets You Free

Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

John 8:31-47 | January 27 - Sunday Morning,

Sunday Morning,
January 27
The Truth that Sets You Free | John 8:31-47
Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

O Lord, that is our prayer. Not simply that we would leave here in 40 minutes feeling good or bad or knowing something we didn’t know, or even understanding Your Word better as important as that is. Our prayer ultimately is that you would show us Christ. You would reveal your glory through the preaching of Your Word until every heart confesses that Christ is Lord. For we know that He was in the world and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him. He came into His own and His own people did not receive Him, but to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God who were born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And so we pray that some even in these next moments might be born of God and that you would give to us mouths to confess and hearts to believe. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

I’ll be reading this morning from John’s Gospel, chapter 8, verses 31 through 47. John chapter 8, beginning at verse 31.

“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”?’ 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. I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill Me because My word finds no place in you. I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.’ 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.'”

If your Jesus never says hard things, then you have not the real Jesus. There is no way around it. If you are paying any attention to these verses just read, you will see that Jesus has very difficult things, sometimes even very offensive things, to say to those and about those who do not belong to Him as His disciples.

Now maybe that makes you feel relaxed. You think, “okay, that’s right, Jesus has hard things to say to those who don’t believe in Him, those who are not His disciples. Well, bring it on, pastor. I love sermons where Jesus says hard things to other people. Some of my favorite sermons.” [laughter]

You like when the coach was berating everyone else and you knew that you showed up for practice on time, or you came and you just “I love it, I love these kind of dress-down sermons.”

Well, before you get too comfortable in thinking Jesus has hard things to say for other people, because here I am, I believe in Jesus, I’m at church, remember where we left off last week, verse 30, “as He was saying these things, many believed in Him.” And notice then how verse 31 begins this week, “So Jesus said to the Jews, who had believed Him.”

We already have a category, we’ve seen, in chapter 2 thereafter the feast of Passover, seeing the miracles we read that many believed in Him but immediately it says “Jesus, for His part, did not entrust Himself to them.” They believed in Jesus, Jesus was not ready to believe in them. Because it was a fickle faith, it was a superficial faith.

It was a faith, in chapter because of the miracles, or here in chapter 8 because of the dynamic teaching and wow, this is amazing what He’s doing here at the Feast of Tabernacles. They are ready to put some sort of faith in Him, but Jesus knows how fickle the human heart can be.

He’s speaking to those who are at church. Now here, it’s not church, it’s not a building, but that’s essentially what it means. Those in His entourage, those who like Him.

Now, we’ll find that some in this crowd actually want to kill Him, but there are those who have believed in Him. Some sort of superficial faith, maybe it’s on the way to real faith or maybe it proves to be a counterfeit faith, but some sort of faith. These are church people. These are people like you. These are people who say “well, if Jesus has hard things to say, then it’s not hard things for me to hear.”

But notice what He says in verse 31, that little word “if.” “If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples.” The measure of a disciple is not what you can say most loudly. The measure of a disciple is what you hold to most consistently.

So, yes, it’s all very fine and well that you would make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, that’s important, but let’s see then what it actually looks like to live out your life. That’s what Jesus is saying. “Okay, good, some of you have believed in Me, ready to put your faith in Christ. Well, listen, if, if you abide in My Word.”

Now it’s not that Jesus is saying “okay, you need to add to your faith works and once you have two years of consistent discipleship then I’m ready to justify you,” let’s not import our systematic theology categories on this particular discourse. Jesus is simply saying what any of us who are parents ought to understand, and that is that the proof is in the long-term discipleship. I was going to say the proof is in the pudding, but I’m not even sure what that means and I don’t each much pudding, [laughter] so the proof is in your long-term discipleship.

It’s wonderful, isn’t it, if you have a 6-year-old who says “mommy, daddy, I want to believe in Jesus” and you pray a sweet prayer with them and they say “I love Jesus.” Well, of course, you don’t put that down, you say let’s see what this looks like.

Now, it’s even different than that here because we’re not dealing with 5-year-olds and 6-year-olds. Jesus does know what’s in their hearts, and many of them, though they think they like Jesus, are so far from Him and that’s why I said this is a hard word, because it might be and very likely is, in a room this size, the situation that some of us are in. Thinking, you came here this morning, I like Jesus, and not seeing just how far you are from Him. When it says “My Word must abide in you,” we’ll see this language later in John’s Gospel, it means that you must persevere in the word and the word must have a notable effect on you. “You’re not my disciples just by claiming to believe in Me, you are only My disciples if you abide in Me and My Word abides in you.”

One commentator puts it: “Perseverance is the mark of true faith, or real disciples.”

So notice Jesus is saying some hard things. This is a conflict.

We’re going to unpack this, but you just read it. He says their father is the devil. He says they don’t have God as their father. He says they don’t have Abraham as their father. He says they’re dead and they’re slaves to sin. These are hard things to hear.

Now many of us are familiar with this passage, and it’s in the Bible and we tend to read it with a certain saccharine sense in our voice, but don’t let this become too sanitized to you. Picture yourself there. It wasn’t a safe, trigger-free environment. This is like a TV panel where suddenly things get tense, or an academic conference where all of a sudden the man presenting takes a turn right to all of these other scholars and gets engaged in deep conflict, or a dinner party exchange that seems to have gotten out of hand and everyone’s on pins and needles, “what just happened here?”

Two years ago, my wife and I went on a cruise. We were on a marriage cruse. I was invited to speak on a marriage cruise, okay? Don’t judge. If someone paid you to go on a cruise, you would do it, too. [laughter] So, yes, I was speaking on a Christian marriage cruise. And, now just so you don’t feel too jealous, we had Tabitha, who was 8 months at the time, and it turns out that 8-month-olds have a significant lessening effect on the awesomeness of a marriage cruise. [laughter] But, be that as it may, it was warm and it was nice and we would go out and we had, you know, a little room and then we had a little balcony that was overlooking the, where were we? We were in the Gulf somewhere. And just little rooms, and there was a couple right above us, and they also had a balcony, and we were noticing as we would go out on this little balcony that we, we would hear them, and we could hear them so clearly speaking. And they were speaking, speaking, and then their conversation seemed to be getting more heated, and one time we were out there and we heard them speaking very distinctly, and they were obviously angry with each other. And the husband was saying something, “well, I don’t even know why we came here,” and the wife was “would you just put away your phone?” and “you don’t even pay attention to me” and this was very awkward. [laughter]

At first I was thinking, they need to see a pastor. I hope it’s not me. [laughter] I guess it’s a good thing that they’re on a marriage retreat, because their marriage sounds really bad. As they were going at it, I’d think “don’t they know that they have the whole ocean to hear them?” [laughter]

So we sort of looked at each other, we made a, you know, silently “let’s tiptoe back in, I don’t think we should be out here, this is making us feel uncomfortable.” So we went back inside.

Now later, at one of the sessions, see, the sessions before you would have speaking, there would be some singing, and there was a couple who were actors and would present a little skit for you to help you learn something about marriage. [laughter] [sound effect] And we thought, “we just heard that argument!” [laughter] Oh, we were so relieved. [laughter] We saw them later and we said “you are good actors! You’re right above us and we thought you were having the worst argument.” And they said, “well, thank you” and it really put the rest of the cruise because this had been happening multiple times a day. We thought one of them was going to go overboard. [laughter]

So it’s that sort of tense conflict. This just came out of nowhere. What is happening here?

So don’t read this from the safe, sanitized realm of your pew, but put yourself back in here. This is a heated argument about the most important things, the most eternal things. Listen to what Jesus says here, and consider humbly how these may be the very things that are true of some of us.

He says three hard things to them. Number one, He says you are not free.

Verse 32 is one of those famous verses in the Bible, that often gets misused outside of its original purpose: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Sometimes it’s used or just sort of slapped on any kind of journey of self-discovery, the truth about your own inner workings or childhood, or it’s a slogan for education, “you’ll know the truth about chemistry and it will set you free,” or some mystery or some riddle to be solved. Even in non-Christian circles people have picked up on this, as they might on some sort of famous line from Shakespeare, but the truth, notice the truth that sets us free is specifically the truth about Jesus.

Remember verse 24: “I told you that you would die in your sins for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” That is, “I am the One you have been waiting for.” Filled up with this messianic expectation, this prophetic content, fully God, fully man, the messiah to save you from your sins, I am He.

We saw the same thing in verse 28: “When you have lifted up the Son of Man then you will know that I am He.”

So this is the truth. It is specifically the truth about Jesus, who He is, what He has accomplished, that will set you free. The problem is they don’t think they’re in bondage. They say “what? Slavery? Us? Now we may be under the thumb of the Romans, but we’ll have you know very well we are not slaves.”

They may have been thinking “Jesus, you know who we are.. God’s chosen people. We are a royal priesthood, a holy nation. We have freedom in Abraham. We were delivered out of the Exodus. That’s when we were slaves, in Egypt.” The Torah in Leviticus 25 “no Jew was to be a slave.” There was a saying in the Mishnah that even the poorest Israelite was still a free man who had merely lost his possessions for they are all sons of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. A proud people. Said “we’re not slaves, we’re free.”

Maybe we would, some of us, say “Don’t you know, Jesus? Don’t you know the Star-Spangled Banner? The home of the,” I always forget, the home of the brave and land of the free or land of the brave and home of the free, but it’s both, “Don’t you know, Jesus, who you’re talking to? We’re not slaves. Don’t tread on me.”

But of course they didn’t understand the full depths of their own bondage, not to the Romans or to the Assyrians or to the Egyptians, but to sin.

Verse 34: “Truly, truly, I say to you. Everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.”

If it is your habitual way of life to sin, you’re a slave to it.

One of the horrible things about slavery is that it’s inactivity rooted in an identity. It’s not just something that people say “well, that’s what you do, you do slave work,” well, no, then it’s a job. But they say it’s your identity. You do slave work because you are a slave. That’s who you are and that’s all you’ll ever be.

Well, we can feel that way with sin. And it is that way with sin. We are born into this world not just as people who from time to time happen to sin. We are born as sinners. Do you understand the difference? We’re not just good people who make mistakes. Everyone you will meet today and this entire week will say “sure, I make mistakes, nobody’s perfect.” But do you realize you’re not just a good person who sometimes makes mistakes: We are born into this world and apart from the sovereign grace of God, there is no hope of being anything other than a sinner. Not a good person who messes up, but a sinner who sins, a slave. It’s our nature, it’s our identify, it’s who we are. It’s bondage.

See, it’s not just addicts who are slaves to sin. Sure, there’s people in this room who have, maybe even are now, struggle with one kind of addiction or another. All of us know people who have struggled. And we’re liable, sometimes, to put that in a different category. Actually, no, that’s just a perfect picture of what sin is like for all of us, to one degree or another.

It is pictured so memorably in The Lord of the Rings, that ring, that one ring to rule them all. You want it, “my precious.” [laughter] I’m pretty good, huh? [laughter] I make sure now not to hold up my wedding ring when I do that, but… [laughter]

You hate it, and you love it. You want to get rid of it, and yet you’d rather die than get rid of this sin, this precious, this treasure. That’s what sin is. We hate it and we love it. We’re slaves to it.

Now listen, this is so important, just think with me theologically here for the next three minutes, because this is massively important in having not only a Reformed but a biblical understanding of how sin operates. We sin, now I’m talking about apart from the regenerating work of the Spirit, we sin of necessity but without compulsion. We sin of necessity, meaning it’s our nature, we’re slaves to it, it cannot be otherwise, and yet we do not sin by compulsion. That mean no one is forcing us to do it. No one is twisting our arm behind our backs saying “go, now sin, take another drink, shoot up with another needle.” They’re not making us do it.

It feels to us as if we are powerless. Now you might say well, these are all such modern, new understandings and addictions and substance abuse and how could we possibly have the Bible speak to them… Well, the Bible speaks to them plainly and so has Reformed theology for centuries, because we have this understanding that sin is on the one hand a necessity, we, we can’t help but do it, and yet it is chosen by our own wills to do it.

Calvin says it this way: “Because of the bondage of sin, by which the will is held bound, it cannot move toward good much less apply itself there, too. Nonetheless, the will remains with the most eager inclination disposed in hastening to sin, for man when he gave himself over to this necessity, was not deprived of will, but of soundness of will.”

Did you hear that? So it isn’t that in our depraved nature we no longer have a will, we still have that faculty of choosing. But rather we have forfeited that soundness of will, so the will only chooses ultimately what is offensive to God.

Calvin later calls it “a voluntary servitude,” a voluntary servitude. Which explains how as non-Christians and it explains even with the power of indwelling sin in the life of the Christian how some sins can be on the one hand unbidden, unwanted, and yet still our sins.

Almost all of us, if we’re honest, have had this experience. You may say “Well, I haven’t been addicted to alcohol or to drugs.” What about a phone? What about video games? What about food? All of us had the occasion of saying “I don’t want to do that today” and we do it. We’ve all had desires that come to us unbidden. You don’t wake up and the alcoholic thinks “I want to have an uncontrollable desire to drink today” but there it is. Or “I want to have same-sex attractions.” Almost always those are experienced unbidden, someone doesn’t consciously say “I want to have these desires for someone of the same sex.” So on the one hand it gives a certain amount of sympathy and empathy, and on the other hand we realize that even unbidden desires, if they are directed towards something inordinately or to the wrong object, are still sinful desires.

Such is our bondage, our slavery to sin.

Here’s the Westminster Confession: “This corruption of nature during this life doth remain in those that are regenerated, and although it be through Christ, pardoned and mortified, yet both itself and all the motions thereof are truly and properly sin.”

So even as believers, not only the things that we do, you understand, but even those desires that we have welling up within us, even when we say “I don’t want to have these desires,” are yet sin. Such is the nature of our voluntary servitude.

Now praise God, as we’re born again we are slaves to ever increasing righteousness, but there is still the fight with indwelling sin, and the matter is far, far worse and desperate when we are apart from Christ. You have a problem in life, I have a problem, and your problem is worse than you think, because you are worse than you think.

You’ve heard the illustration before of G.K. Chesterton writing into the London newspaper when they were having the contest, an essay contest, “What is wrong with the world?” and he wrote in “In response to your question ‘What is wrong with the world?,’ I am. Sincerely, G.K. Chesterton.”

That’s not to say that there aren’t politicians to blame and there isn’t injustice to blame and there aren’t systems to blame, but it does mean when you start to look at what is wrong with the world, do you start to look at your very own heart?

Your biggest problem is you. My biggest problem is me. My own temptations, my own inordinate desires, my own sinful dispositions, my own anger, fear, lust. Until we realize that our biggest problem in life is not out there but in here, we haven’t really come to a Christian anthropology.

And this has massive implications for how we see the world and how we understand the mission of the church.

Here’s what D. A. Carson says in his commentary: “The despotic master is not ultimately Caesar, but shameful self-centeredness, an evil and enslaving devotion to created things at the expense of worship of the Creator. This is why Jesus would not let himself be reduced to the level of a merely political messiah. It is not that His claims have no bearing on questions of social justice, but that the pursuit of social justice alone will always prove vain and ephemeral unless the deeper enslavement is recognized and handled.”

Now, listen, Jesus is not telling us, nor am I telling you, be indifferent to human suffering, don’t care about injustice. But Jesus is telling us, by implication here and by explicit teaching elsewhere, that you can have a job and a house and a car and a smartphone and have political power and have the right to vote and have social standing and have money in the bank and still be a slave. We are not helping people with their deepest, most intractable, most debilitating problem if we are not helping them with their slavery to sin.

Some of you say “pastor, this is a hard word.” Well, it’s a hard word that Jesus says to us. And it’s a word that we need to hear, because God is not giving us the medicine we need unless He is first revealing to us the real disease that we have.

And it’s not just for the people that we help, it’s for our own lives. We are not owning up to our own issues. If we think the biggest problems out there are in Hollywood and Washington and the Academy and big whatever, instead of seeing first your own heart, Jesus says to them “you are not free.”

Second, we’ll move through these next two more quickly, not only are you not free, you are not children of Abraham. Jesus wasn’t against Abraham, He wasn’t opposed to an appeal to Abraham, and in one sense He can acknowledge they are offspring of Abraham, physically. But what He could not countenance was that they were, just be default, children of Abraham in the truest sense. You could see His argument: What children do points to who their father is. And they did not look like their father Abraham.

What did Abraham do? Well, we know in Genesis 18 he welcomed divine guests. We know in Genesis 15, he had the spiritual sensitivity and humility to believe and it was counted to him as righteousness. Abraham, we know, so trusted God that he was willing to kill his own son. But some of these people in the crowd have such little faith they want to kill God’s son. So, no, they are not showing themselves to be real children of Abraham.

Again, you have to put yourself in their shoes, how offensive this would be.

[singing] Father Abraham, had many sons, and many sons had Father Abraham, I am one of them, and so are you, so let’s just praise the Lord. Right foot… It’s like the Hokey-Pokey, you know. [laughter]

They were doing that for centuries, something like it. We have Father Abraham, the patriarchs, we’re sons and daughters not of anyone, but of Abraham.

He’s talking to God’s people, right? To the chosen people. He’s talking to people like us.

But here’s what Jesus does: Jesus positioned Himself against the illusion that the physical children of Abraham had no need of the freedom He offered. In other words, He exploded the notion that just by birth they were of a fundamentally different spiritual class. He exploded the notion that just by birth they were of a fundamentally different spiritual class. I hope no one in here is mistaken—because of who your mommy is or who your daddy is, or what you look like or where you’re from, or if you have pastors or elders who are Sunday school teachers in your lineage, or if you go to a Christian school or how many times you’re here and Sunday school and Sunday evening and youth group. It’s all good, but Jesus explodes this notion that we are born into this world, some fundamentally different spiritual class. No, even church people, maybe especially church people, still need to be set free. He says you’re not free, you’re not children of Abraham.

Is it possible, friends, that some of you here this morning have all of the trappings of Christianity, all of the background of church and Jesus, and you’ve never come face-to-face with your own spiritual bondage? It’s been something that you do, something that you keep at arm’s length, something to make mom and dad happy, something to make your wife happy…

But listen, Jesus is not here to shine up sinners. He has no interest in stapling fresh apples to dead trees. He’s here to set you free, and it starts with knowing that apart from Him, apart from a real relationship with Him, real disciples of Him, that you and I are in bondage to sin. That’s the reality. You are not free, you are not children of Abraham.

And for the final striking blow, number three, you are not even children of God, He tells them. Jesus says you’re not doing what Abraham did, you’re doing what your father did. And like happens so often in John’s Gospel, they are thinking on an earthly plane. They’re thinking “Well, who does he think our father is? We’re not children of sexual immorality.” You see that in verse 41. And almost certainly there’s a bit of a jab at Jesus Himself, perhaps rumors had been flying about the suspicions around His birth. Hmm, nudge nudge, we’re not of sexual immorality, Jesus.

Or perhaps it was a reference to what we will read later in verse 48, “are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan?” Those sort of half-breeds, not real Jews. We know who you are, Jesus. You’re an imposter. Well, we’re not an imposter. We are not from sexual immorality. They claim “we have one father, God.” They knew their Old Testament. Didn’t the Lord say in Exodus 4:22 “Israel is my firstborn son”? Didn’t God say in Jeremiah 31:9 “I am Israel’s father”? So you can understand the claim they’re making, but Jesus flatly rejects their claim.

If telling them they were not children of Abraham, if that wasn’t bad enough, now Jesus says not only do you not have Abraham as your father, you don’t have God as your father.

That’s one of the most offensive things for people to learn, that the Bible nowhere teaches the universal fatherhood of God. If you notice in the prayer that I prayed before the sermon from John chapter 1, we have just the opposite, that to be a child of God is not of human decision, it’s not of a father’s will, it’s not of a mother’s choice… It is to be born of God, according to His sovereign will and plan and purpose.

I remember several years ago a man asking me in a rather strident way, “oh, pastor, how can God, how can your God punish people in Hell? What sort of father punishes his children forever?” There’s a lot of things going through my head: How do I answer that, how do I talk about it, there’s the emotional, there’s the kind of existential weight of Hell, there’s, take, and what dawned on me in that moment, and I’m grateful that it did, was to say “you know what? You’re right. That would be a terrible father. What kind of father could possibly punish his children in Hell?” But, of course, you realize, the Bible nowhere says that we all have God as our father. We are not natural-born children, only the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. We are adopted children. We must be born again by the Spirit, brought into His family, counted as His sons and daughters. So rest assured, God is always and forever working on behalf of His beloved children, even when He disciplines those He loves.

But here Jesus is saying something different. Not just that He disciplines those He loves, He’s saying you don’t even have God as your father.

Calvin says “how can they agree with the father who disagree with his only son?”

And it gets even worse. For Jesus does not stop there just to suggest that they might be spiritual orphans. No, no, no. They have a father. And if you aren’t offended yet, Jesus wants to make sure everyone is offended. Oh, you have a father. Your father is the devil.

You’d be laughed out of any debate. You’d be screamed out, you’d be ushered out of any debate. How do you talk that way? Hate speech.

And it’s hard for us to swallow, isn’t it? You think, well, I know plenty of people, they, they, nice folks. They may not be Christians, but they don’t have pointy ears, they don’t walk around with pitchforks, they, you know, help me and come over and bring us food when we have a baby and they’re nice folks. Nice moms and dad, no doubt. They get birthday presents for their kids, they take care of their parents in old age.

And I bet that was these people in this crowd, too. Nice folks. Probably had a lot of people that liked them. Probably did some nice things in their community. But Jesus says in opposing Me, in wanting to get rid of Me, make no mistake whose work you’re doing. You’re not doing the work of Abraham, you’re not doing the work of God, you’re doing the work of the devil. He says you’re deceivers and you’re would-be murderers. Just as many of us are in our hearts.

See, Jesus and the devil are opposites. One speaks lies, the other only speaks the truth. One was a murderer from the beginning, the other is life and the giver of life. You see what Jesus is saying: From the beginning, this is what the devil has been. From the garden, what did he do in the garden? He killed the human race by lies. “Has God really said? Hmm. Can you trust God? Can you take God at His Word? And if you even touch it, you’re going to die?” He was from the very beginning a deceiver masquerading as one of light when all he had was putrid darkness, and the result was death. Death to Adam and Eve, death entered the human race, spiritual death, alienation from God and physical death. A deceiver, a murderer.

When the devil lies, we read, that he speaks out of his own character, verse 44. “Ek ton idion” in the Greek. You could translate it “from his own kind,” from his own family. That’s your native tongue.

Think about that when you deceive, whether you think it’s a, it’s a little teeny lie about your brother and sister, just a little teeny lie to mom and dad, just a little lie at work, just a little fudging here, a little shading here, a little exaggeration, a little hypocrisy…. Just a little, we all do it. But when you lie, you speak the language of the devil.

And when you want to get rid of Jesus, enough Jesus already! Boy, everyone in my life it’s all about Jesus, Jesus, Jesus… Enough Jesus, just give me a little bit of Jesus, I don’t need all of this Jesus. That, too, is the work of the devil. Get rid of Him, don’t bow to Him, don’t worship Him, don’t believe Him, don’t lay down your life for Him.

It’s a hard word that Jesus has for this crowd. It’s a hard word that he may have for some of us. You maybe came in here this morning thinking “well, I know I’ve got things to work on, but I’m a pretty good person and I go to church and I have a Bible.” But is it possible that you are not free and you are not a child of Abraham and you are not a child of God this morning?

Now if you, let’s just end here, just to make it, ’cause Jesus does not let us off the hook. Jesus is not very sentimental, and Jesus, when He sees that we’re getting offended, sometimes He says “okay, let me just make it even more offensive for you,” because if you think well, this, this, I don’t have to stand for this, I don’t have to believe this, I don’t have to take this. I don’t have to take it from you, preacher, I don’t have to take it from my Christian friends, I don’t have to take it from this Jesus.

Listen to what Jesus says, just notice verse 45: “But because I tell you the truth, you do not believe Me.” It’s not a concessive “although I tell you the truth, you don’t believe me.” No, “because,” this is the reason why you don’t believe Me. Because I’m telling you the very truth.

So you’re sensible people. You must sort this out, you must do your business with God and with your own soul and with your own heart. Sometimes it’s not the lies that are hardest to believe, it’s the truth. Jesus looks them square in the eye and He says “I’m telling you the truth about your heart, about your distance from God, about your slavery to sin, about your need for a savior, about your own self-centeredness… I’m telling you the absolute truth, and that is why you will not believe Me, because you would rather believe the comfortable lie than come face-to-face with the uncomfortable truth.”

So consider might Jesus know you better than you know yourself? Might we be worse than we seem? Might our need for a savior be greater than we thought? And might Jesus be more powerful and more merciful than you’ve dared imagine?

“If you abide in My word,” Jesus says, “you are truly My disciples and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

Let’s pray. Our heavenly Father, we pray that You would do the work through the Scriptures, by Your spirit, to speak to our hearts. Testify to us the truth and give us eyes to see it, ears to hear it, and hearts to receive it, that we may know you and love you and serve you and give you the praise that you deserve, and that in knowing the truth about Jesus, and the truth about our own hearts, we would have freedom. In Jesus we pray. Amen.