John 8:31-34


To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."  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?"  Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.


There are some passages that attract my attention every time I read them.  This is one of those.  The first thing I notice is the “if / then” construction of Jesus’ statement. “If you hold to my teaching . . . then you will know the truth.”  Clearly there is more to knowing the truth than just hearing the words of Jesus.  He says that one must also hold to his teaching.  “Hold to” has the same implication as “abide in” or “remain” or “stand firm;” it involves faithful continuation and perseverance.  Surely we have all learned from our own experience that walking according to God’s Word takes practice, and it isn’t an act of a single day – it requires a continual yielding of self to the direction of the Holy Spirit. 


And then I notice that Jesus connects knowledge with freedom.  Why?  Because people don’t automatically know how to be free.  It kind of goes back to that “total depravity” thing.  We don’t have to be taught how to sin and be disobedient -- if you don’t believe that, ask anybody with a child.  But we do have to learn how to love God and walk with Him. 


But here is what I noticed for the first time today.  When Jesus said the words in the passage above He was talking to people who believed in Him.  Jesus had just been dealing with the contentious Pharisees who had challenged his claim to be “the light of the world.”  He told them that He was “from above” and had been sent by the Father.  If you look this passage up in your Bible you’ll notice that verse 30 reads: “Even as he spoke, many put their faith in him.”  It was to those who had just put their faith in Him that he said, “If you hold to my teaching you are really my disciples . . .”  


So here is the bottom line . . . it is the believer’s daily walk with Jesus that sets him free.  I am a sinner, but I don’t have to sin; I can walk with Christ instead.  I can live in His truth.  I can listen to the Holy Spirit.  I can be faithful.  Oh, I will no doubt stumble, and so will you.  But while we are walking with Him we are free . . . free indeed!


--- Pastor Keith Andrews