The Truth Will Set You Free – John 8
This message is a part of our series on the Gospel of John.
Find the rest of the messages in this series here.
I want to start off this morning by showing you a picture of an iceberg. We are probably familiar with the phrase, just the tip of the iceberg- meaning that what we can see of a matter or what we know on a subject is just the part of the iceberg that is above water.
I’d like for us to start this message off on the same page that most of what we know about people is just the tip of the iceberg. What we know about people is only what’s visible on the outside, what they potray, how they allow themselves to be seen.
There are people who make a career out of helping others dress up the tip of the iceberg, what can be seen, to make it as appealing as possible. However, most of what makes up a person is unseen. It’s below the surface.
Now, some of us are more intuitive or more discerning and we are able to discern deeper under the surface than others. In Ministry people come to you with their hurts, hangups, and habits- so you often get to see a more in depth look at the lives of people than some. Then there are others, that because I’m a minister they are more guarded around me. They put on a a facade or front.
Jesus spoke to this point in the beginning of John 8 when he said you judge after the flesh. He was telling them, you judge only what’s on the outside, what can be seen. Jesus on the other hand, he knew what was below the surface. He knew what people needed to hear. He spoke to the needs they had below the surface.
In fact, there were times like in our passage today, that Jesus knew truths about the people that they did not realize about themselves.
You see, we often fail to know ourselves truly and deeply.
We often ask ourselves, why do I feel this way? Why do I do these things? Why am I the way that I am?
There is no knowledge of self apart from knowledge of God and no knowledge of God apart from knowledge of self.
John Calvin opens up his book Institutes with
“Nearly all wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves”
Kevin Deyoung paraphrased Calvin’s opening point as:
“Know God. Know yourself. Know yourself to know your need of God. Know God to know you are not god.”
You see, what happens in this passage is that Jesus does what he often did with those who were following Him. He pushed back against their preconceived ideas, their notions of self righteousness, and exposes that they are not following Him supremely, but rather as far as He doesn’t challenge them, their ideas, their identity, or their behavior.
When kids play on the playground, they jockey for position. They want to be in charge. If they don’t get to determine the game that will be played, how it will be played, or who will win, they will say things like:
“I’m not gonna play anymore” or “I’m not your friend.”
If we submit to God as long as He plays by our rules, follows our design, and respects our preferences we are not following Him at all. We are following self.
You may be doing this and you don’t even realize it. It may be happening underneath the surface so deep that you don’t even discern it about yourself. However, Jesus knows. He will challenge you on that front, on that topic, on that issue so that you can surrender it to Him.
That’s what takes place in this chapter.
Jesus challenges his followers so that they might choose if they will follow Him or self.
Let’s read John 8:30
30As he spake these words, many believed on him.
31Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
There were people that believed in Jesus as He making the statements we looked at last week, but Jesus says to these people, if you continue in my word, then you are my disciples indeed.
Now there’s an important point I need to make here, so hang with me. Jesus is talking about the evidence of true faith. He is not talking about the path to true faith. He is not saying, if you continue in my word you will have true faith.
He is saying, if you continue in my word you have true faith.
Abiding in the word of God is the mark of a disciple, not the making of a disciple. We come to Christ through faith, not obedience. However, true faith leads to obedience. It leads to the work of God spreading all over us. It leads to the power of God’s truth working it’s way into every aspect of our lives, redeeming every part of our hearts and renewing every part of our minds.
We believe in instant justification and continual sanctification.
When someone gets baptized, they are not perfect. They are simply declaring that they have trusted in the one who is perfect. He is working on them.
In fact, baptism is the opposite of a declaration of perfection. It’s admission of the opposite, it’s acknowledging our need of God because we are not perfect…
This lack of perfection is clear in the next two verses:
33They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?
34Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.
ESV 34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.
So what Jesus is saying when he says, the truth will set you free is that if you believe in Christ, you’ll follow Him, you’ll seek His truth, and that truth will make you free.
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
You will be disciples,
you will know the truth,
and the truth will make you free.
My favorite analogy of how the gospel works its way into our lives is that of grouting tile. When you put grout in between tile, you mix up the grout and you want it to be thick, but not too thick, so it can be moved back and forth.
You take a grout float and you move the grout back and forth so that it fills the seams, the corners, the gaps, and you work it into all of the nooks and crannies.
When the gospel comes into our broken, jagged, uneven, hole riddled heart, it begins to work into every corner and every aspect of our lives.
The Lord is always working to sanctify us. He is always working to bring us to greater freedom from sin and shame, always working to bring about our redemption.
For this reason Paul is confident in saying that God will use all things for good, not that all things are good, but that God will use them for good.
Imagine your life is wrecked by some storm. A tornado comes through and tears your house apart. God is like a contractor who says, I hate that this happened. Let’s us this opportunity to make your home better than ever before…
When Jesus says this, the people are offended because Jesus has referred to them as needing to be freed. They are not slaves, they are sons of Abraham. They are Jews.
Jesus has offended their nationalistic pride.
Jesus says, you claim to be sons of Abraham, but you also seek to kill me, so you are not following the legacy of Abraham.
This would be like saying, the founding fathers would roll over in their graves if they saw how your political party is running things…
Jesus is pointing out that they will follow Him as long as He doesn’t mess these issues. Jesus is their guy as long as He doesn’t challenge their pet sins and personal causes…
Nothing provokes people to uglier behavior than when you challenge their gods and pet sins…
41 Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.
48 Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?
People who criticize the Bible and attempt to poke holes in its authenticity point to this passage because the words of Jesus are so strong. Jesus would call the people children of the devil.
Critics claim that this chapter is anti-semitic. That it was added later to make the Jews out to be evil. Jesus’ point is not that they are evil because they are Jews. Rather, Jesus point is that they are evil because of their sin.
This is not a Jewish problem, this is a human problem.
Jesus did not come to condemn a particular group and He did not come to save a particular group. He came because the world is condemned. He came to save the world.
The Jews in this chapter take issue with Jesus because they had been trusting in their ethnicity. When Jesus challenges that, they are threatened and offended.
When we get offended at Jesus its because he’s challenged our sins or our false gods. Religious or wicked, moral or immoral, anything that rests in the throne of our hearts must go to make room for Jesus.
If we truly believe in Jesus, we’ll let him take the throne.
When Jesus takes the throne, the freedom will roll down throughout the kingdom.
Imagine your life is like a kingdom. New king comes to power and immediately in the castle, their in immediate proximity the signs of the new king are obvious… but there are villages and outposts that are miles away and they haven’t even heard yet that there is a new king, much less what the laws and expectations of this new king are… but time will tell and the kingdom will all come be subject to this new kingdom, or rebel against Him.
When Jesus takes the throne, the freedom will roll down throughout the kingdom and throughout our lives.
It’s for this reason that Jesus says in verse 36
If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
What’s ironic about this, is the people take issue with Jesus offering them freedom. They’re offended that Jesus offers them freedom because they are already free.
Jesus points out to them they are not free because they bound to sin. This offends them further and it escalates from there until they are picking up stones to kill Jesus.
They had a profound misunderstanding about freedom.
We do today as well. Most people look at this Bible as a limit on their freedom. It’s takes away their freedom. It hampers or hinders the lifestyle they want to live.
There is no freedom without truth.
I love John Piper’s illustration on true freedom. He said that most people would agree that one of the most free feeling would be free falling or skydiving.
But don’t you know that they have rules about skydiving. You have to take classes to make sure you know what you’re doing. You have to show up at the airport at a certain time to catch the airplane into the sky. You have to wear one of their parachutes…
What if you said, listen man I’m not all about classes and instructions and rules, I just want to skydive.
I’m not all about schedules and appointments, I just want to show up and skydive…
I’m not all about stuff weighing me down, this heavy parachute is just gonna make me feel bulky…
If by some chance, you could work your way into jumping out of a plane without following all the protocols, in that moment you might feel extremely free, but you wouldn’t so much be free falling as you would be falling.
You might feel free from the rules and regulations, but you would be very much controlled by the law of gravity and it would only end in your destruction.
Within the mercy and grace of Christ, there is true freedom.
Freedom from sin, condemnation, guilt, shame, judgment, and death.
Jesus says, you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.
Even if you’re not sure you believe in God, can you admit that the freedom this world offers is not really freedom?
It’s just recklessness…