Whoever is of God
Sunday, February 18, 2018
Winter Spring Sermon Series: Experiencing God for Such a Time as This
He Who Belongs to God
JOHN 8: 31-47
Jesus here is continuing to address those who think they believe, who think they follow God. They had the notion that they were children of God but had never yielded to Him the depth of allegiance that is at the core of real belief. It is a dangerous spiritual state.
Because they would not yield true allegiance to God and His word they would not yield allegiance to Jesus. They were self-will and self-confident and self-satisfied with their hardened condition. They possessed a blind determination that they knew what was right and true.
Therefore, the Word of God could not be received. Because they refused to yield to God, they became the enemies of Jesus. Their confidence came from powerful spiritual force that blinded them to the truth and held them back from the right course of action.
The could not and would not belong to God until they changed their attitude toward Him. We can fall into the same trap the Jews in Jesus’ day did.
Belonging to God means:
We Abide in His Word – Vs. 31
“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples.”
Jesus was talking to believers about their belief. He will show them that their belief system was false in regard to whom they thought they were. They may have made a profession of faith, but it was superficial and has no depth to it.
To abide in Jesus’ word means to believe He is The Word and hold to His teachings. True believers continue to hold to His teaching and believe what He says and walk in obedience to Him.
Continuing to trust and obey Jesus is a test of who we are in Him and shows that we are true disciples. It shows the non-believing world that we are wholeheartedly His and we will ‘hold on to’ Him.
We Are Set free by His Word - Vs. 32-38
“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[a] 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.” Jesus tells His listeners that only by abiding in Him - the Word, the Truth - can they truly be set free from their bondage of sin.”
So often verse 32 is used out of context. But when taken with verse 31, it visibly shows that Jesus there is only one way of knowing the truth and that is by knowing Him.
The people laid claimed to Abraham, the man of faith. The man who based his life on following God’s word. The man who exhibited his faith in God by living in light of the promises of God, even when they weren’t quickly fulfilled or easily understood. Even against human reason Abraham followed God because he believed God’s word.
In spite of the fact that they were descendants physically of Abraham, they were not characteristically like him. He obeyed the voice of God. They disobeyed the voice of God. Jesus sets their desire to kill Him as verification that they were not like Abraham. Instead of heeding God’s word they were hostile to Jesus because of God’s Word. His word found no place in them. His word made no progress in them or with them. They had no room for it in their lives.
Note again that religious privilege does not guarantee a right attitude to the things of God. and religious observation does not make one sensitive to the things of God.
In verse 38 Jesus begins to reveal to whom they are listening. "I speak the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore, you also do the things which you heard from your father."
Jesus insists, as always, that His message is not from Himself, but derived from His Father. He has clear vision of the Father and speaks according to the things He has seen in/with the Father.
They have also heard things from their father and they do these things also. [Speak and do are continuous present tenses referring to each one’s persistent practice.]
Who you are following is who you are obeying. Who you are listening to is who you will become like.
Personally Hear His Word – Vs. 39-47
“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.”
Jesus concedes their claim to be of Abraham’s lineage in verse 37. “I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you.”
In verse 39 they again attempt to justify themselves by their relationship with Abraham. “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,”
Jesus made a distinction between hereditary children and true children. The religious leaders were hereditary children of Abraham (founder of the Jewish nation) and therefore claimed to be children of God. But their actions showed they were not like Abraham. Jesus insisted that character kinship seen in actions is the only real way to exhibit relationship with Abraham.
Your church membership and family connections will not make you a true child of God. Your true father is the one you imitate and obey.
Jesus again asks them to look at their actions and attitudes as it pertains to Him in verse 42. 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.”
Children are those who reproduce the father character. Jesus had denied their claim to be Abraham’s children because they did not have his works of faith. Now Jesus denies their claim to be children of God because the heavenly Father’s character is not seen in them. In particular, those who call themselves children of God are expected to recognize the unique Son of God, and indeed to love Him, for a family likeness would draw and bind them to Him.
Because they were not truly God’s children they could not understand God’s message as verse 43 indicates. "Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word.”
The religious leaders were so wrapped up in their preconceptions, in their own way of thinking, that they could not perceive the truth. The Jews were unable to understand because they refused to listen receptively to Jesus. Satan used their stubbornness, pride, and prejudices to keep them from believing in Jesus.
ILL: COMMUNICATION - Good communication involves more than good speaking; it also requires good listening. Jesus, the master communicator, was often misunderstood, as we see in this Scripture. Although He spoke the truth clearly, His hearers jumbled up His message and then rejected it. "Why do you not understand My speech?" He quizzed them. Answering His Own question, He replied, "Because you are not able to listen to My word." Why were they such poor listeners? Not because Jesus failed to communicate, but because they didn’t want to hear the truth. And why didn’t they? Because it made them face up to their need to change.
When we say, "God is getting through to me," it’s not because He’s communicating better but because we’re hearing and willing to change. Let’s always make listening to God one of our best skills of communication. It’s hard to tune in heaven’s message if our lives are full of earthly static.
ILL: Moses’s Encounter with God on Mt. Sinai – Burning Bush
Jesus now in verse 44 specifically names their father, the one under whose guidance they are living their day by day lives. "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him.” (1 John 2:4) “Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
What God says is the truth. Satan has no interest in God’s truth. What he says contradicts God’s truth. The devil utters lies as naturally as God utters truth. His habitat is falsehood. Deceptive lying is what we expect from him (Mt. 12:34). As the father of lies he is the best there is at it, and I have met some very deceptive liars. The children of God are characterized by their love of the truth. The children of the devil by their refusal to accept God’s truth.
According to Jesus, Satan is the "spin doctor" of hell-the master deceiver who "speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar." He casts himself as the one who wants to give us unfettered freedom and pleasure, carefully masking his plan to steal, kill and destroy us (John10:10). He even spins the loving laws of God by claiming that God’s boundaries are restrictive, simply intended to take all the fun out of living. When we buy into Satan’s damaging lies, we will eventually find ourselves broken-sidelined in our journey with God.
Thankfully, Jesus warns us. He says that Satan is the father of lies. And we know Satan is lying when what he tells us contradicts God’s Word. Jesus, on the other hand, is the truth (John 14:6). So, when it comes to sorting out the spin, our only defense against the spin doctor of hell is to listen constantly for the voice of Jesus as we pray and study His Word. And that’s the truth! For God’s truth stops the spin of Satan’s lies. --Joe Stowell
Jesus declares why the children of the devil do not believe Jesus in verse 45. "But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me.
The fact that what Jesus said was God’s truth was sufficient reason for them to reject it. Actually, it was because Jesus spoke the truth that He was and is disbelieved. For the devil makes his lies appear more alluring more palatable that God’s stark truth is. His foes relationship with the devil and his falsehood made it difficult if not impossible to believe Jesus. Beware! Satan makes a lie sound the truth and God’s truth sound like a lie.
ILL: It’s a quiet morning. The mists are still rising as THE FISHERMAN glides to his favorite fishing spot. He’s after one of those giant bass that hide among the weeds and sunken logs.
Now, this fisherman is probably an honest man who wouldn’t cheat on his taxes. But when he’s fishing, he’s a cunning deceiver. He is out there to snare and capture. To do that, he’s not going to throw a bare hook in the water. That wouldn’t fool the fish. So, he disguises it with an attractive lure. He may even hide it with that old reliable- the night crawler. He wants the fish to take the bait without noticing the hook. When he does it will be too late. A skilled angler will give just the right jerk and set the hook. And that’s the end of the fish’s freedom.
Satan is also fishing. He too is a fisher of men. And the bait is whatever will lure us to take the hook of sin. It usually appeals to a natural desire-such as our need for intimacy or success or security. He uses legitimate needs to hide his real intent, which is to get us to disobey God. He knows that to entice us to take the bait; he has to hide the hook. And he’ll make it look as appealing as he can. Satan is a cunning deceiver. Don’t be fooled by his tactics. Satan is out to lure you in. Don’t take the bait!
Are you ever so filled with questions that you feel at times like an unbeliever? Martin Luther sadly admitted, "For more than a week Christ was wholly lost. I was shaken by desperation and blasphemy against God."
Don’t be surprised if you pass through similar struggles. As followers of Christ, we are in conflict with God’s enemy, the devil, the father of lies. We wrestle against him and "the rulers of the darkness of this age" (Eph. 6:12).
Two of the pieces of armor God has provided for us when we are attacked by doubt are "truth" and "the shield of faith." They can "quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one" (vv.14-16).
As we saturate our minds with God’s Word, our faith will be strengthened. Then we’ll be able to stand when doubts assail us. The best protection against Satan’s lies is to know God’s truth.
With assurance of the perfection and purity of His life before God Christ places a question before them in verse 46. "Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me?”
What a staggering assertion and challenge Jesus declares! Jesus publicly to His fiercest, deadliest and most venomously hateful opponents declares Himself sinless. Then He challenged them to prove Him otherwise, to substantiate one single sin of which He was guilty. It is impossible to envision any other person in history making such a claim.
No one could accuse Jesus of a single sin. People who hated Him and wanted Him dead scrutinized His behavior but could find nothing wrong. Jesus proved He was God in the flesh by His sinless life. He is the only perfect example for us to follow.
In verse 47 Jesus answers His own question as to why they could not believe. "He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God."
A person must be "of God" to truly hear "the Words of God." His opponents were not "of God." Their refusal to accept the truth which He declares is evidence that they are not children of the God of Truth. He who is of God receives God’s truths and the truth changes his life until he more and more bears the image of the Son of God.
A man who is tone deaf cannot experience the thrill of music. A man who is color blind cannot appreciate a picture. A man without the Spirit of God cannot recognize God’s truth when he hears it (Jn. 18:37).
CONCLUSION / TIME OF RESPONSE
Truth is an abstract concept that is difficult for people to know and appreciate. So many people get so enmeshed in the fallen world system that they no longer recognize God’s truth (Jn. 18:38). They become caught by the worlds lies, distortions, deceptions and falsehoods. God’s truth is a foreign language that they cannot understand.