Sermon – Are You Really Free? (John 8:31 – 8:47) – Cornerstone Church Kingston
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The Book of John was authored by one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, John, who features in the gospel. John makes his mission for writing the book plain in 20:31; “that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” He details the many words and claims of Jesus, as well as the various responses from those listening; in either faith, amazement, caution or rejection. Listen as Cornerstone preachers unpack the narrative and invite us to reflect on our own response to Jesus.

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Sermon 30 of 58

Are You Really Free?

James March, John 8:31 - 8:47, 10 July 2022

James continues our series in the book of John, preaching from John 8:31-47. In this passage Jesus prods jews who believed in his message to expose unbelief and rebellion in their hearts. How will Jesus' words in this passage hit you?

John 8:31 - 8:47

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 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’?”

34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”

39 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, 40 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. 41 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.” 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. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 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. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”


Transcript (Auto-generated)

This transcript has been automatically generated, and therefore may not be 100% accurate.

We're gonna read God's word now. So if you would turn with me in your bibles to John chapter 8, I don't think it's gonna all come off on the screen. So it'd be great if you could get a hard copy in front of you. And turn with me to John chapter 8, and I think that's on page 1 0 7 4 in the Church Bibles.

And we're gonna be reading from verse 30. Even as he even as he spoke, many believed in him. To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, if you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you'll 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, Very truly, I tell you everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family. But a son belongs to it forever. So if the son sets you free, you'll be free indeed.

I know you are Abraham's descendants, yet you are looking for a way to kill me because you have no room for my words. I am telling you what I have seen in the father's presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father. Abraham is our father, they answered. If you were Abraham's children, said Jesus, then you would do what Abraham did. As it is, You are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God.

Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the works of your own father. We are not illegitimate children. They protest it. The only father we have is is God himself.

Jesus said to them, if God were your father, you would love me. For I have come here from God. I have not come on my own. God sent me. Why is my language not clear to you?

Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth for there is no truth in him. When he lies, He speaks his native language for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet, because I tell the truth You do not believe me.

Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? I'm telling the truth. Why don't you believe me? Whoever belongs to God, here's what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.

The Jews answered him. Are we right in saying that you are a samaritan and demon possessed? I am not possessed by a demon, said Jesus. But I honor my father and you dishonor me. I am not seeking glory for myself, but there is 1 who seeks it.

And he is the judge. Very truly I tell you whoever obeys my word will never see death. At this, they exclaimed, now we know that you are demon possessed. Abraham died and so did the prophets. Yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death.

Are you greater than our father, Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are? Jesus replied, if I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My father whom you claim is your God is the 1 who glorifies me.

Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I will be a liar like you. But I do know him and obey his words. Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day. He saw it and was glad.

You are not yet 50 years old. They said to him. And you have seen Abraham? Very truly, I tell you, Jesus answered. Before Abraham was born, I am.

At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself slipping away from the temple grounds. Okay. Good evening, everybody. Good evening to to you at home as well if you're you're tuning in. My name's James.

I'm 1 of the members here at Cornerstone. If you you have your bibles open, if you could turn back to that that passage in in John chapter 8, we're going to be looking mainly at verses 31 through to 47. But let's pray, and asked for the Lord's help to start. Heavenly Father, we thank you for your word. We thank you that your word is truth.

We thank you that your word is about your son, Jesus Christ. And we pray now, we ask for your help in seeing him as we look at this passage. We pray father that you would open our eyes to see wonderful things in your law. We ask for your help to do that. We ask that as there's distractions as there's heat, there's difficulties, there's tiredness.

Lord, would you please help us to see your son now. In Jesus' name, amen. Okay. So freedom, is is a word that gets, I think, thrown around a lot in our culture. We talk about freedom of speech, freedom of expression, there's freedom of religion, freedom of the press.

There's free love There's free elections, maybe, depending on where you are. There's the free world. At rooted the youth talk a lot about free will. They wanna argue with you that we have free will, don't we? Back when when I was a youth, there was a band.

I don't think they're still together. I think they had an argument called Oasis. And they they released a song called Whatever. It's a real sort of earworm. So be careful.

Like, I keep singing this song. I don't know if I particularly want to, but I keep singing it. So it's a near 1. Don't look it up. It's a song called Whatever, and it's a song all about freedom, He says, I'm free to be whatever I, whatever I choose, and I'll sing the blues if I want.

I'm free to say whatever I whatever I like, if it's wrong or right, is alright. So you're free. If you wanna be a miserable sad sack, then you can be. If if you wanna sing the blues, then go ahead. That's what he's saying.

We're free to do these things, to say whatever I want to say. I'm free to do that. You just have to accept that, don't you? That's what he's saying, I think. And largely, They're kind of right, aren't they?

We do live in a country where the majority of people are free. There is mostly freedom. Perhaps we're not completely free to do whatever we we want or say whatever we want all the time, but we do have freedom. But there's restrictions that dirty word from COVID, there's things that stop us doing whatever we would like to do. Do you remember back in in COVID when you were just never sure what the restrictions were?

You know, and you would be arguing with, well, I think the restrictions are this, and you know, you'd say, no. They're they're this. No 1 was sure what the restrictions were. This this Friday, this is not COVID related, but I had to drop noah my son off to Seoul, And it was in a place I didn't know this place at all. And I went wrong in the car.

I'm driving along and I turned right when I should have gone straight on. And I ended up in Raines Park, and I really, really didn't want to go to Raines Park. And I said, well, how do I get back on track? So I I turned left, and I'm looking at the map. And then I turned out, I came to go out and I wanted to turn right again and just go back.

But I couldn't. You weren't allowed to go right. There was a restriction that stopped me going right, and I was kind of tempted, I would have, I probably would have just done it, but there was 1 of those things in the middle of the road. And I couldn't I couldn't turn right, even if I wanted to, I was restricted to my freedom was had a restriction placed on it. So we're not completely free.

Are we? In in all things. But we're mostly free. We're free to do a lot of things, but there's many people in the world who are clearly not free. If you think about the people of North Korea perhaps or the people of Afghanistan, they're not free people.

Did you know that there's an estimated 29800000.0 people in slavery today, staggering, isn't it? Do you know that there's tens of thousands of people living in slavery in the United Kingdom today? There's modern slavery, there's victims of trafficking, people who are forced to work, people who are forced to commit crimes, people who are forced into marriages, or forced into prostitution. So there's clearly people in the world and in our country. In Kingston, actually, who aren't free.

They have very little freedom, if any. Now freedom is really the issue that Jesus deals with in our passage tonight in in John 8. Look with me at verses 31 and 32, he says, 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. Look down at verse 36, It says, so if the son sets you free, you'll be free, indeed.

So Jesus is talking about freedom. About being free indeed, freedom in its deepest and fullest sense. Do you have that freedom? Did you walk in here into the hubby? You're sitting at home enjoying that freedom now.

That's really an important question. It's an essential question because surely you want to have true and real freedom. Don't you? Freedom in its fullest and deepest sense, if it was an offer, surely you would want that. Now, freedom in Jesus' teaching, it isn't a random new topic.

It's tied into the festival of tabernacles, and that's my my first point is the festival of freedom. Jesus had gone up to Jerusalem for the festival of Tabanackles in in John chapter 7. And he spends day up once his day, he spends day after day teaching in the temple during the festival, teaching him all sorts of different things. And actually, even after the festival is over, he's still teaching. It's in chapter 8, the festival is done, and he hasn't stopped.

It's it's like the after party of the teaching. It's, if you imagine clearing up on a Sunday morning, you know, Paul Muraly is there. Doing the chairs, and we're loading up the van, and things that are, you know, they're dealing with the urns and all that stuff. Imagine Pete just getting up again, and starting to preach a second time. That's what's going on.

Jesus is teaching again. And all the way through this teaching, in these chapters, he's been using, he's been tying in his teaching, into the images and events of this festival of tabernacles. And you can go back. You can listen to those sermons and see see those images and how they're tied in and what they mean. It's been really brilliant.

But what Jesus says in tonight's passage also connects to the festival. Jesus is talking about freedom, and the festival of Tabernacles, it's all about freedom. When when God outlines to Israel in L leviticus, he outlines all these different festivals, what they're going to be, he tells them how they're going to order their their year, and he gives them these festivals. And in 1 of them, he says, to make shelters, to live in, during this this festival. During the festival of Tabanakles, you're gonna make leafy shelters to live in.

And then he tells them the reason why, that's in leviticus 23. If there's 42 and 43, it should come up on the screen. It says all native born Israelites are to live in such shelters, so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in temporary shelters. When I brought them out of Egypt, I am the lord your god. Israel have been in slavery in Egypt.

They're enslaved. They're repressed. They were worked ruthlessly by these hard slave task masters. It was merciless. It's horrendous.

But in exodus, the Lord brought them out of Egypt. He delivered them. He rescued them from that slavery, and they're in the wilderness, and they're headed to the promised land. And the Lord, on the way, he has them live in these temporary shelters, tap and achilles, along the way. They couldn't do that in Egypt.

You know, they couldn't go on a little camping trip, like, Dudley. They they couldn't build little leafy shelters to live in, but now they can. On the way they can, they're free. They have their freedom. They've been brought out of slavery, and the festival was to remind them of that you have been brought out of slavery in Egypt, Israel, to freedom.

And Tabanakul celebrates this, and Jesus, he picks on this image of freedom and he ties it into his own teaching. And so he says if you hold to my teaching, you're really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. If the sun sets you free, you will be free indeed. So Jesus takes this image of freedom.

And he talks about being set free and being free, indeed, He talks about real and true and full freedom that the exodus points to. But since Jesus is talking about freedom, about being set free, it's clear that there there's those that are not free. There are those who are like the people of Israel in Egypt. In slavery, And that's my second point, slavery, ancient and modern, there's a slavery that is as as old, like, almost to the beginning, Genesis 3 kind of beginning. There's slavery then.

And then there's slavery when Israel is in Egypt, and there's slavery when Jesus is talking to these people here in in John 8, and there's slavery today, there's modern slavery. Now maybe you're sitting there, and you're all feeling pretty free. You're not slaves. We're not slaves, are we? And when Jesus says, The truth will set you free, the people respond just like that.

Perhaps how we're responding, We're already free. They say in verse 33, we're Abraham's descendants. We've never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we will be set free? Now, that doesn't seem to me to be a question because they just lack understanding.

They're a bit unsure. I think, actually, it's that they're just amazed at what Jesus has said. They're they're incredulous at what he said, they're they're it's stirring up in them sort of anger, frustration, Why is he saying that? They know that actually, he's saying that they're not free, that they're slaves that need to be set free, And so they respond by saying, well, what are you talking about Jesus? That's rubbish.

How can you say that? How dare you say that? We are free. But of course, their response is is actually quite delusional, isn't it? We've never been slaves of anyone.

But they've forgotten what Tabanakos was all about. They've forgotten their history, their nation has been enslaved, In Egypt, in Babylon, they're Russian bin slaves lots of times. They're they're slaves when Jesus is talking, basically, They've been conquered by the Romans, they were ruled by the Romans, they weren't to free people. And in a sense, they were slaves to Rome. You know, in in Matthew 5, Jesus says, if if anyone forces you to go 1 mile, go within 2 miles.

A Roman soldier could force you to go a mile. Here you are. Here's my bag, carry that And they they didn't have a comeback, did they? Because they weren't free. They weren't a free people.

But their reaction opens up the way for Jesus to explain, actually, what sort of slavery has in mind. Look at how he replies to them in verse 34, he says, very truly, I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 1 man described that verse as a an absolutely walloping statement. Let it hit you.

Let it smack you. Let it punch you between the eyes. Because make no mistake, you you are a sinner. So am I? You have sinned, just like me, all of us have sinned, no exceptions.

And Jesus says, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Everyone sins. So everyone is a slave. Of sin. And we sin because we are sinners.

There's a power in our hearts that drives us to sin. That's 1 way actually that sin and slaves. We're born into this slavery, but the picture that Jesus uses actually gets more walloping, because He says, 1 of the hardest, sternest, most wallopingest things he ever said. Look at first 44. Let this wallop you.

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth. For there is no truth in him. When he lies, He speaks his native language for he is a liar and the father of lies. They're slaves to sin born as the children of Satan.

Jesus is calling them the spawn of Satan, slaves to sin, that resemble their father, the devil, because they carry out their father's desires. What are those desires? Well, they reject truth. They refuse to hear Jesus' words, they prefer lies just like the devil who is the father of lies. They pursue a desire to kill Jesus just like the devil who was a murderer from the beginning.

So the marks of slavery to sin, as Satan spawn that Jesus points out is murder and a love of lies rather than the truth. It's hard, isn't it? How does that picture fit you? Do you always and in everything love truth? What lies do you do you cherish?

What deceptions do you do you believe? Are you ever dishonest? Are you ever insincere? Do you ever sort of twist or bend the truth? What white lies do you tell?

Have you ever murdered anyone Well, hopefully, you haven't actually physically done that. But have you ever been unfairly angry with someone? Have you ever sort of assassinated someone's character by gossiping about them or slandering them or telling lies about them? Lies and murder, they're the language of Satan's children who were slaves to sin. And if we're honest, we show that family resemblance.

There's this drive, this power in us, that propels us to do these same things. So that's 1 way that sin and slaves, but it sin and slaves in another way as well. Sin in slaves because it leads to death and damnation. So there's a power of sin and sin leads to death and damnation. Sin leads to death and hell That's the end of the road of sin, destruction, not freedom.

Really death is if you think about it, it's the ultimate threat to freedom. If if I've got something that I want to do tomorrow, and I die on the way home, well, there goes that freedom. I can't do it. And you you can't do what you want to do when you're dead. Can you?

There's no freedom In in hell, none at all. So everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Under the power of sin facing the the damnation that sin leads to. And that's true for all of us, by nature, I said earlier that there was 29800000.0 people in slavery. In the world today.

But that's wrong. There's billions, billions of slaves. And those billions need to be set free from this slavery to sin? So how can we be set free? How can we be rescued from this slavery?

The answer is the sun. Look at verse 36. If the sun sets you free, you will be free indeed. We need the sun to set us free. So how does he do that?

If you have your bible open, look back to verse 22. It talks about the son of man who is gonna be lifted up He's gonna be slung on a cross. He's gonna become sin. He's gonna die for sin. He's gonna be destroyed for sin.

The son of man, Jesus Christ is gonna give up his freedom. He's gonna be arrested. He's gonna be bound. He's gonna be led around from sham trial, to sham trial, and then to to the to cavalry, to the the hill where he's gonna be crucified and he's gonna have nails driven through his hands and his feet, and he's gonna be hung on a cross. And on the cross, there's no freedom, is there?

He can't you know, he's not able to move. He can barely breathe. He's given up, his freedom, he's laid, his freedom down, he's he's actually laying his life down. And he's going to do that. He did do that to rescue us from our slavery to sin, so that we can be really, truly free.

So that we can be freed from the power of sin, so that we can be free, freed from death and the damnation that sin leads to. So that we can have freedom to enjoy fullness of joy, and pleasures for evermore in the presence of God. And Jesus is making this offer of real freedom to us today. So have you received that freedom? To receive it, if you haven't received it, then believe in him, trust in him, and he will make you free indeed.

So that's how we can be set free from from sin. There are 3 people, and there are people who are still in slavery. And that's really my third point, slaves and free. Who are the free ones? Well, they're the ones who know the truth.

Look at verse 31. They hold to Jesus' teaching They're 32. They know the truth. The truth has set them free. They're Jesus' disciples, They're set free.

They're the ones who are free. The ones who don't know the truth, the ones who aren't Jesus' disciples, there aren't Jesus' followers, that they're the ones that don't hold to his teaching, and they remain in slavery. They haven't been set free by the sun. So There's those that aren't free, there's those that are still slaves, and there's those that have been free by the sun. And you're in 1 of those 2 groups, a person, a free person or a slave.

A disciple or not a disciple? A child of god or a child of the devil? Do you know tonight what group you're in? Have you been set free by Jesus? Now there is a problem in this because you might think you're free, but actually still be a slave.

You might think that you're a disciple but actually you aren't a disciple. And that's my fourth point. Slaves that think they're free. And really, it's this type of person that Jesus deals with in this in this passage. Those that think they're free, but aren't, those that think their disciples but aren't.

Jesus says in verse 31, if you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. And the disciples are the free ones. Your word really could be translated truly There are true disciples, and there are disciples who are not disciples who are not really disciples. And that's a really troubling and disturbing thing, isn't it? To think about?

It should kind of make us squirm a bit. It should make us a little bit worried, I think. It should make us examine ourselves and see what kind of disciple we are. Are we true? Or are we false?

Because it's absolutely possible to think you're free, but to still be a slave. To think you're a disciple but not to be. And that that's my testimony. I was like that. Years and years ago, I I'm old man March to the youth.

Years ago, someone asked me, are you a Christian? And I've been brought up in a church. It's like, yeah, I'm a Christian. And he invited me to his church, and I heard the gospel, and I became a Christian because I wasn't a Christian before. And I would have been like the Jews in this passage.

They said, well, we're Abraham's descendants. Abraham's our father. I've always been a Christian. I was like them. I thought I was a disciple.

I thought I was free. But I wasn't. And Jesus' purpose in this passage is to expose whether you're a slave. Who thinks that you're free, to show you whether you are a true disciple. In verse 30, we read, even as he spoke, many believed in him.

If there had been an altar call, they would have gone forward. Apparently, many believed in him. He probably John and Peter, I would have thought they're looking at each other going, Yes. They're finally seeing what we see. But if you look down to to the end of of the chapter, they they were picking up stones to stone Jesus with.

And they're the same they're not the pharisees. They're not the religious leaders. They're the people in verse 30 because Jesus is speaking. If you look at verse 31, it says, to the Jews who had believed him. So he's speaking to those people in verse 30, who apparently had believed And he's uncovering their false belief.

Because they wanna murder him. They wanna cancel him. They wanna get rid of him. So Jesus He exposes that their belief is not genuine and that they're not really free. So finally, how how can we know that we are free?

How can we know if we are really a disciple of Jesus? Now to answer that, we've gotta think about how we view. Gonna knock that over. How we view Jesus' word. Jesus' is teaching.

And because Jesus' words point to himself, as the crucified and risen Lord, the son of God, we need to think about how we view Jesus himself. Jesus, you see, he speaks, he teaches, he talks the truth, He tells the truth. He speaks what what God says in verse 47, it says that. So how are we gonna respond? How do we respond to that?

How do we respond to him? Those are the slaves, if you look through the passage with me, those that are not really disciples They don't hold to Jesus' teaching. They don't know the truth. In verse 32. In verse 37, it says, they have no room for Jesus' word.

They do not love Jesus who is truth from god, verse 42. They do not hear what Jesus said. In verse 43. And actually, that verse can be translated that they can't bear to hear Jesus' words. They can't bear it.

So they try and kill him. They don't believe Jesus in verse 45 to 46. They don't hear what God says through Jesus in 47. And that's what the Jews are doing in this passage. But that's the opposite of what those that are free do.

It's the opposite of what those who are really Jesus' disciples do. In verse 31, they do hold to Jesus' teaching. In verse 32, they do know the truth. In verse 37, they have room for Jesus' words. They do love Jesus who is truth from God in verse 42.

They do hear what Jesus says. They can bear to hear Jesus' words. Invest 43. And actually, they can't bear not to. They long to.

They they're eager to. They do believe Jesus. In verse 45 and 46, they do hear what God says through Jesus, in verse 47. So how do you view Jesus' word? If you wanna know whether you're free, whether you're a disciple, How do you view his word?

Do you hold it? Do you know it? Do you have a place for it? Can you bear to hear it? Can't you bear to be without it?

If that doesn't describe you, Then what confidence do you have to say that you're a disciple of Jesus Christ? On what basis can you say that the truth has set you free, that the sun has set you free, and that you're free indeed? What's your ground of confidence? Because you're looking to something else to what Jesus is saying here. But if that does describe you, then you have every reason to be confident that you are a disciple of Jesus, that the truth has set you free, that you have been set free by the son, and that you are free indeed.

Let's pray together. Dear heavenly father, we thank you for your son, And we thank you that he tells us the truth. And we pray father god that we would be people who love the truth. Who love the truth about Jesus Christ. Christ crucified.

Christ who came to set us free. Father, we do thank you for him for the help us to to abide to remain in this word. In the word of your son, in Jesus' name, our man

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