Summary: What it means to really be in Christ.
True discipleship John 8:31-36
Up until now Jesus’ message was very broad having a public appeal, but now His comments have become very specific and they’re aimed at those who really wanted to follow Him. And these were people who believed in Him in terms of who He was and the claims He made. And so, His message to them was simply this, in verse 31 He says, “If you remain in My word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” To remain means to be obedient or to make a lifetime commitment to His teaching.
After all, true discipleship is something continuous. It’s not the guy who raises his hand in a meeting and never comes back again or the one who loses interest when he finds out his personal needs won’t be met. I remember when I was first saved, there was a group of us witnessing to people and handing out tracts on Yonge Street in Toronto. And right out of the blue this loudmouth drunk came up and started yelling, “I know all about the Bible. I’ve accepted the Lord and I’m just as good as all of you are.” And then he started quoting Bible verses just to show us that he knew what he was talking about.
The issue wasn’t whether or not he knew the Bible, or whether he had accepted the Lord whatever that meant or even how good he was. The issue was whether or not he was living in obedience to God’s word. And by his drunken arrogant behavior I suspected that he wasn’t.
And then Jesus tells them the fringe benefit of such a commitment was real spiritual freedom. I mean false beliefs hold men’s mind in bondage but the truth liberates them.
Now, what He was doing was emphasizing the nature of true discipleship. And He was teaching these people that faith involves obedience to the word of God. And I’ve said everywhere I speak, all of us need to have some system of discipline to make us obedient to the Lord and I believe this starts with developing a habit of getting into the word and then getting the word into our lives.
Listen, we all have habits and there are certain things we do everyday. Some have breakfast, have a shower and then go about their business. Some go to work and others might begin by reading the paper or watching the news. What I’m saying is, we’re all different in that we all have our own system of managing our time and doing the things we have to do. But, each of us needs to work in some time for studying the scripture as one of those things we do every day. And it doesn’t matter if you do it first thing in the morning or the last thing at night or some specific time during the day. But we all have to set aside a specific time and we shouldn’t let anything or anyone interfere with our time in the word.
You see, without a steady diet in the scriptures our spiritual life will be a series of ups and downs. One day we’re up and the next we’re down and then there will be days when we don’t know where we are. And I’m talking about life from a spiritual perspective. The problem some of us have is that we go to church on Sunday and get well fed and then we starve ourselves until the next week. If you did that physically you’d be sick half the time. You’d be either bloated or starving to death. That’s why we need to set aside some time to be with God and learn from His word and that will give us a sense of consistency in what can often be a very inconsistent world.
So, here Jesus is telling His followers that they need to be true disciples and discipleship begins with faith and this faith is strengthened by both our time in the word and our obedience to it and through our time in the word we grow in our knowledge of God. So, can anything be any easier than developing a habit of spending time with God? Of course you’d say no. But listen, there are things that happen that are simply unexplainable that will keep us away from the scripture.
Let me illustrate. When you decide you need to have regular devotions, for the first little while you’ll find every excuse in the world to put it off until later. You’ll tell yourself, I’m too busy this morning so I’ll find some time this afternoon. And then the afternoon comes, you get busy doing the normal things of life and you forget. Then you go to bed at night and you’ll say to yourself, “I’m too tired tonight but I’ll spend twice as much time tomorrow.” And the next day you’ll think of another reason to put it off but instead of feeling guilty you’ll probably say something like this to yourself, “Having devotions just isn’t for me. I’m just not the disciplined type.” And as soon as we believe something like that, the devil has us just where he wants us. Because he knows we know the Lord but he also knows that now we won’t have anything to sustain or motivate our spiritual life. And what would please the devil more than having a bunch of Christians who couldn’t care less about their own spiritual condition or the spiritual needs of the unsaved who are living around them.