TO CHEW ON: "Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, 'If you abide in My word you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.'" John 8:31-32
The Bible connects the ability to discern truth with obedience in several places. Paul does it in Romans 1 when he talks about sinful people "who suppress the truth in unrighteousness (or wickedness)" (Romans 1:18). Their refusal to acknowledge God as God and glorify Him (which surely includes obedience), results in foolish darkened hearts and lives that are enslaved to physical lusts, passions and outright rebellion (Romans 1:18-32).
In our focus verse today Jesus states the same idea only coming at it positively, maybe because of the sympathetic crowd ("Those Jews who believed Him"):
"If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free."
Let's look closely at Jesus' words to see how He connects obedience, to knowing truth, to freedom.
"If you abide in My word..." Abide (Meno) means to remain as one, not to become another or different. A cross-reference to this verse in my margin is John 14:23-24: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word." The NIV says "If anyone loves Me he will obey My word" (NIV).
"...You are My disciples indeed..." Disciple (Mathetes) comes from the root "math" which means thought with effort. My Bible defines disciple as "a learner, one who follows both the teaching and the teacher" (Word Wealth, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1307).
"...And you shall know the truth..." Know (Ginosko ) means to perceive, understand, recognize, gain knowledge, realize, come to know. "Ginosko is the knowledge that has inception, a progress and an attainment. It is the recognition of truth by personal experience" (Word Wealth - New Spirit Filled Life Bible, p. 1459).
"...and the truth shall make you free." Made free (Eleuthero) means to make free; set at liberty from the dominion of sin.
What does this mean for you and me? We could say that obedience to God and what He tells us of His will in the Bible is key to us being disciples and to understanding truth in a way that is only possible once we've actually lived it. Oswald Chambers expresses the connection between obedience and understanding truth so well:
"The golden rule for understanding spiritually is not intellect, but obedience. If a man wants scientific knowledge, intellectual curiosity is his guide; but if he wants insight into what Jesus Christ teaches, he can only get it by obedience. If things are dark to me, then I may be sure there is something I will not do. Intellectual darkness comes through ignorance; spiritual darkness comes because of something I do not intend to obey."
- Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, July 27th reading (emphasis added).A corollary of living this way is that I'm set free from sin being the boss in my life. Ironic, isn't it, that freedom comes through putting oneself under the will of Another.
It sounds great in theory... now to consistently put it into practice!
PRAYER: Dear God, I want to live free. Help me to identify where I am still in bondage because of disobedience that keeps me blind to the truth about You and myself. Amen.
Today is Halloween. It is a secular holiday that has sacred roots. It is still listed in the Lectionary as a holy day: Vigil of All Saints.
An All Saints Vigil Liturgy (found on an ecumenical liturgy site) includes a renewal of Baptism. The leader begins that part of the service with the invitation: "I invite you (to stand) to affirm your commitment to Christ and your rejection of all that is evil."
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked NIV are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.