October 1, 2017
John 8:31-36, Romans 6:6-7,14
About two months ago, my sister forwarded our whole family a link on Facebook. She said, “I’m so excited!” I looked at the link and it said, “NBC agrees to bring back FRIENDS for one more season.” After doing a little more research and looking at all the comments at the bottom of the page, it was obvious that the page was a scam. It wasn’t real. Friends isn’t having a reunion. In fact, if you looked closely the page was originally created on April 1st of last year. Which of course is April fool’s day. Poor Hannah. She fell for fake news.
And while we all laughed and joked, we’ve all been there before. We’ve all read something online or heard something that turned out to be fake. The sad part is that we live in a time period where fake news gets us a lot. Between the internet and the media, how do you know what is real and what is fake? Do you just believe everything you hear, or do you track down the truth?
Unfortunately, fake news can spread inside the church too. That’s what we saw earlier with King Josiah. For years the Isrealites believed fake news. Kings and priests started to say that God wasn’t the only God, but there was another one. A god named baal. And the people believed it. They started worshiping God and baal and part of worshiping baal meant you’d go to the temple and sleep with a prostitute. That was the fake news that went through the church during King Josiah’s time in 2 Kings.
There was fake news in the church during the 1500’s. There was a wide belief that if you lived a good enough life you could gain heaven. There was a teaching that you could buy forgiveness. And people believed it. And you better believe that there is fake news today as well. So, how do we know what is the truth?
Well, the good news for us is that Jesus addressed this exact issue for us. Fake news has been around for a long time and part of every culture and every time period, including Jesus’ time period. And he addressed fake news in John 8. In this section he tells us what is truth, what the truth says about me, and what the truth says about my future.
31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Only God’s word is truth.
Jesus is talking to Jewish people, and notice what he says, If you continue in his teaching, then you will know the truth. The Greek word for “know” is a word that means know by experience. So Jesus is saying if you hold to his teaching, you will know truth by experience, and the truth will set you free.
We sometimes can think that reformation happened 500 years ago and that’s it. But really every day of our lives is a reformation within our heart. It is constantly going back to God’s Word to find the truth.
We always go back to God’s Word. Just because Martin Luther wrote something doesn’t mean we automatically believe it. We compare it with what God’s Word teaches. Just because Stephen Apt says something doesn’t mean you should believe it. Just because we feel some way, that doesn’t mean that feeling is truth. With everything and everyone, we have to make sure it lines up with God’s Word. God’s word is the only truth that we have.
That has big time implications for your life. If God’s Word is the only truth we have, we want to constantly grow in it. We never graduate from our study of God’s Word. Instead we need a daily dose of truth. And we praise God for his truth. Isn’t it wonderful that you never have to wonder what God wants for your life? He tells you in his Word that he wants you to be saved. Isn’t it wonderful you don’t have to question whether God loves you or not? You simply open his Word and hear the truth that nothing can separate you from his love.
In a world full of fake news and not knowing who you can trust, you can rest knowing that God’s Word is truth. 100% unbiased truth. And God’s truth says that you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. But set you free from what?
33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”
The Jewish people were very prideful. They knew God chose their nation to bring the Messiah into the world. And there was a faithful group of Jewish people who never bowed down to any other god. They remained faithful to god and were never slaves to any other religion.
We’d probably react the same way right? Imagine Jesus standing here talking to us and he said I will set you free. We’d probably respond 1 of 2 ways: 1) Wait a second, I’ve been a Christian my entire life. I’ve never been a slave to a false god. Or 2) Wait a second, I live in America. We’ve been free for quite some time. How dare you imply that I’m not free. I’m not owned by anything.
34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.
Truth #2: We are owned by sin.
a group of people who like their freedoms, we do not like hearing this. We don’t like to hear that we are owned by sin. The Jewish people hated that, and we don’t like hearing it either. But even atheist philosophers recognize this. They agree that all people are slaves; owned by sin. Seneca was a philosopher in the 1st century. He actually lived while Jesus was alive. He said, “No bondage is harder than that of the passions.” David Hume who lived in the 1700’s said essentially the same thing. We are all owned; slaves to our passions. Slaves to our emotions. Slaves to our desires.
When we stop and think about it, we know it’s true. We are slaves to our desires, emotions, and passions. And what do they do? They lead us into sin. We don’t intend to sin, but sometimes it feels like we can’t control ourselves. Sometimes it’s like we have no choice but to have these thoughts, passions, and emotions. A commercial with the new iPhone comes on TV and immediately we are filled with covetous thoughts. We are reading about our favorite sports team when all of a sudden a picture of a beautiful woman pops up in the advertisement and we are filled with lust. We drive down the road and someone cuts us off. We get so angry that we yell some profanities. We don’t intend to do these things. We don’t want to do these things, but sin as our master takes us over. It feels like there’s no control, and the only option we have is to obey our master of sin.
And then Satan uses this relationship we have with sin and lies and manipulates us. He comes and he uses this slavery to control us even more. And he does so 1 of 2 ways. 1) He makes us feel secure in who we are so that we don’t realize there’s a problem. That was what the Jewish people faced. He whispered the lie to them that they were secured because they were God’s chosen people. That because they had the temple and they were good morally, they had nothing to worry about.
He spreads that lie to us too. It’s no big deal that we commit a few of these sins. That we give into the emotions and feelings, the lusts and the coveting thoughts. No big deal. You’re a good church going person. You’re morally a good person. You have nothing to worry about. And we believe the lie. And we feel secure not realizing the danger of being owned by sin.
2) Satan spreads his lies to us telling us that what we did is too bad. It can never be forgiven. God will never love you again nor forgive you. Don’t tell others about the sin you committed because they won’t love you either. You are unlovable.
And here’s why God’s truth is so important: It’s the only thing that’s going to tell this truth to us. The internet isn’t going to tell us that lust is bad. It’s going to continue to feed that lust. Social media isn’t going to tell us that getting angry and tearing someone down on social media is wrong. No it’s just going to feed our anger. TV isn’t going to tell you that coveting is against God’s law. It’s just going to continue to use your coveting thoughts to buy more of their products. There is nothing in all the world that is going to tell us what our problem is and why it’s such a big deal.
It’s only God’s truth that tell us we are owned by sin. It’s only in God’s truth that we hear how sin only has one goal as our master and that is to destroy us. To lead us away from our God and destroy us eternally. And that’s exactly what will happen to us unless we are freed from our sin.
There is nothing else that will be honest with us and tell us that. In fact, just about everything in our world glorifies this slavery. They feed you the lie that everything is okay and that it’s no big deal. But it is a big deal. And God’s Word tells us that. He tell us the truth that we are owned by sin, and unless something is done, we will die.
If the son sets you free, you are free indeed.
35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
It is only in God’s truth that we find there is freedom from this slavery. And that freedom is found in Jesus Christ, God’s Son. That’s what he why he was standing there talking to the people in the first place. He came to free them, and you, from their slavery to sin and its consequences. He came to save them, and you, from the eternal punishment of hell. And that’s what he did through is perfect life, innocent death, and resurrection. When that happened, Jesus broke that chain of sin that was trying to drag you down to hell. He completely freed you from the consequences of the slavery to sin, and now you are free.
What Jesus did with his life, death, and resurrection was change your status from a slave to a child. Your actions don’t determine your status, but God’s declaration determines your status. And because of Jesus, he has declared you his child, forgiven, loved, and free from sin.
Now you no longer look to your own moral performance for security. Instead you are free to look to Jesus. You can take an honest look in the mirror and say, “I haven’t measured up. Nor could I even get close. But Jesus did for me.” Your standing with God is based on his moral performance not yours. And Jesus performed perfectly.
As you look back over your life, you can remember the times that you made bad choices, sometimes even really bad choices, and you can have the confidence that you’re forgiven because of Jesus. As you look to the future and you start to come to grips with the fact that you are going to die, you can calm your anxious heart by remembering that because Jesus rose, you will rise too. That is the confidence you have. And the best part of it all? It’s true. You don’t have to worry its fake. You have complete assurance and confidence to believe it.
But there’s one more aspect that Christ set us free, and it’s just as true. Christ has set us free from the slavery to sin. Not just has he freed you from the consequences of sin, but he has freed you from having to listen to sin as your master. Check out what Romans 6:6-7,14 says.
6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with,[a] that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.
14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.
Romans 6:6-7, 14
Because Jesus set you free, you don’t have to listen to those emotions, passions, or desires. You are free to say no to them. Because of Jesus, you can fight temptation and not let your emotions lead you to sin. That is something we couldn’t do before, but it’s only in the freedom of Jesus that we can say no to sin.
That means that when you see that picture and you start feeling those lustful emotions, you can say, “No. How could do such a wicked thing and sin against my God?” When you begin to feel covetous thoughts in your heart, you can say, “No. I am incredibly thankful for everything that my God has given me.” When you begin to feel anger because of that driver, you can say, “No. I am thankful there wasn’t an accident and I praise God for keeping us and that driver safe.”
That’s the freedom that Jesus gives. It is only in God’s Word that we hear about this. It’s only in God’s truth that we hear how we are set free from our emotions, the lies Satan tells us, and from eternal consequences for our sin. This is why we hold Scripture alone so close to our hearts. Because it’s only in Scripture that we get the truth, and once we’ve experienced the truth, we will be free.