SanLo Community, an update for the week of March 24, 2019…
Thank you Pastor Brian for the message from John 8:31-38, “Freedom Reigns in Truth’s Domain.” “The truth will set you free!” It is a powerful sentence that has been and continues to be used to inspire us. When we know the truth, it will set us free from being oppressed. Jesus is the originator of this statement. What did Jesus mean when He spoke these words? What is truth according to God’s Word and what does truth set us free from? It was the Jewish religious leaders who professed to believe in Jesus, but they did not comprehend the truth. They incorrectly believed they were free from the power of sin because they were descendants of Abraham. There are times we might have incorrect beliefs and think we don’t need Jesus because we are good people. Jesus confronts this incorrect thinking with truth. What is truth?
Truth is Jesus (vv.31-32) Truth is usually defined as a word that means something is authentic, factual, or real. Jesus not only speaks truth but He is truth. We have just read that if any one abides in His word then they would be true disciples and know the truth and the truth will set them free. John 1:14 tells us Jesus is full of truth, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father full of grace and truth.” John 14:6 tells us Jesus is the truth “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but through Me.” If we abide in the words of Jesus we are living in the truth that sets us free and this truth is Jesus.
It’s difficult to trust anything in the media, politicians, or leadership. In general truth is hard to find. In fact, many believe there is no such thing as absolute truth and that truth is relative, meaning what might be true for you is not necessarily true for me. This teaching destroys any moral, ethical or spiritual standards. There is no basis to believe anything is true. Under this system absolute truth is denied which ironically is an absolute truth statement. Sometimes we may fall into thinking that God’s Word is not absolutely true. Once we question the absolute truth of the Bible then Jesus’ existence, His claims, and all that the Bible teaches becomes the word of man rather than the Word of God.
What does the truth of Jesus free you from? Jesus sets you free from Sin’s power (vv.33-36) Jesus is the truth who frees us from the power of sin. For followers of Christ, sin no longer has any control over our lives. Sin’s strength is weak compared to the strength of Jesus’ work on the cross. When Jesus told the religious leaders in verse 32 the truth will set you free, this offended them because Jesus was saying they needed to be free from sin. Their hardened hearts caused them to refuse to recognize the truth of Jesus’ words. Their response in verse 33, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone” revealed their mislead hearts.
The Jews at that time were under the rule of Rome and looking for the Messiah to free them from captivity. Historically Israel was conquered and enslaved by Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, and Persia. How could they say they had never been enslaved to anyone? Their sense of inherited privilege as descendants of Abraham caused them to deny that only Jesus could provide freedom from the power of sin even after Jesus said in verse 24, “I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” The religious leaders rejected Jesus because they felt threatened. If Jesus was truly who He said He was, then these leaders would no longer be in control which caused them anxiety. Have you ever been worried or anxious? When we are anxious it is a reflection of sin’s power in our lives. Instead of resting in God’s sovereign control, we take control and become anxious when things don’t go as planned. It’s easy to let anxiety rule.
Romans 7:15, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” I know I should not be anxious because God is my Father who loves and cares for me. I hate it when I worry because I am not placing my faith and trust in Father God. I do the very thing I do not want to do when I let the sin of worry overpower me. Whatever it is, find a way that leads to the truth that overcomes sin’s power. Sin is temporary and powerless because eternal Jesus has set us free. We will struggle with sin until heaven but are set free in eternity because “if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.” (v.36)
Jesus sets you free from Satan’s grasp (vv.37-38) Satan is powerful but he cannot hold Christ-followers against their will. The might of Jesus overcomes the grip of Satan. We give the devil, Satan too much credit and not enough to Almighty God. Satan can tempt us but he cannot make followers of Christ do anything. Jesus acknowledges the Jews are Abraham’s descendants but because of their intention to kill Him, Jesus questions if Abraham is truly their father. Jesus strongly and boldly confronts their claim in verse 44 and says, “You are of your father the devil and your will is to do your father’s desire.”
Comedian, Flip Wilson used to say, “The devil made me do it,” but that gave too much authority to the devil. It also made it easy to blame Satan for our wrongs instead of owning up to our sins. It is a lie to believe that the devil is more powerful than the all-powerful God. Truth sets us free from Satan’s grasp because James 4:7 tells us “When we submit ourselves to God and resist the devil, he will flee from you.”
If God is not your Father, who is? This is a question that we don’t often ask ourselves but it is what Jesus posed to the Jews who believed they were morally and spiritually above everyone else because of their ties to Abraham. It’s tempting to believe that if I am a good person and do my best and try to do the right thing I don’t need to be saved from sin as the Jews thought. Jesus made it clear that their father was the devil because they denied the truth of Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, the Savior. The answer you have for this question, “If God is not your Father, who is?” is something to seriously consider.
When we condemn ourselves for past and present sins it keeps us in sin’s power and Satan’s grasp. God’s Word tells us in Romans 8:1 “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” God does not condemn us but often we condemn ourselves. The guilt and shame we hold onto weigh us down. If we continued to focus upon our shameful and sinful past behavior we are leaving Jesus on the Cross and not acknowledging that sin has been overcome through His resurrection. Unlike how the statement “the truth sets us free” has been used to free us from human oppression, Jesus, the truth, sets us free from the oppression of sin’s power and Satan’s grasp. We live in truth’s freedom when we come as we are to lay the weight of guilt and shame before Jesus and receive His powerful words, “If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Welcome to Mitsuo and Akiko Fujishima. They have served with SEND from 1998. In 2001 to 2015 they taught English at Christian Academy in Japan (where Jayne Fong is now serving). After the triple disaster of 2011 they sensed God’s call to move to the Oshika Peninsula in Miyagi Prefecture, so in 2015 they relocated where they work alongside local fishermen harvesting seafood as the people recover from the devastation and share the love of Jesus Christ with those they work with. SanLo joined their support team in 2017 but this was the first time they shared in our worship service. They are currently on a one-year home assignment and we look forward to hearing from them again before they go back for their next term.