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By admin | Mar 15, 2014

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Pressing On (St. John 8:31-32)

By admin | Mar 15, 2014

In the first eleven verses of this chapter we read the account of the
woman caught in the act of adultery. The Pharisees brought her to
Jesus to see what His response would be to one guilty of such an
act. They had Him “either way He went,” either for showing lack of
mercy or for disregarding the law. Jesus was merciful and rather
than condemn her He set her free. The Pharisees, because of their
blind unbelief, once again questioned the validity of Jesus being
the Son of God. Jesus reminded them that “he that sent me is with
me.” However, His response to the Pharisees was so convincing that
when He finished it is stated that many of the Jews believed on Him
and it was to this group He gives this admonition.

Often times we do a grave injustice to the truth by lifting
portions of scripture out of its context. For example we often hear
quoted that “all things work together for the good,” when in fact
it is God working in all things in response to our love and
faithfulness that brings about the good. In this passage it is
often quoted, “ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you
free.” This is an accurate quotation but it was lifted totally out
of its context and it constitutes a half-truth. Half-truths are
more dangerous than whole untruths. The context must include the
previous verse which says, “If you continue in my word, then are ye
my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth and the truth
shall make you free.” This conveys to us that there is a condition
that we must meet to experience this freedom.

The natural (unsaved) man suffers from more than a lack or a loss;
there is within him a perversion. It is a Satanic governing
principle called the carnal mind. The carnal mind is unchangeable
in its nature, hostile to God, and insubordinate to His law (Romans
8:7). Those who are governed by this principle are slaves to sin
and by nature children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3). God, who is rich
in mercy longs to manifest His saving grace and set us free from
the carnal mind so that we no longer are slaves to sin but servants
of righteousness.

It was by the grace of God that these Jews believed on Him and now
have embarked upon a spiritual pilgrimage and had begun to live in
a vital relationship with Christ. Through regeneration they
experienced the forgiveness of their sins and were delivered from
the penalty of sin. They had just commenced on their journey.
However, having been forgiven of their transgressions, the former
governing principle (carnal mind) had been dethroned but it had not
yet been destroyed. Though they had been delivered from the penalty
of sin there was yet remaining the pollution and perversion of sin.
Thus Jesus says, “If you continue in my word, then are you my
disciples indeed; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall
make you free.” He knew they needed to be freed from the carnal
mind and was admonishing them to continue in His word.

Divine sovereignty must never be divorced from human
responsibility. The promises of God are conditional and our free
agency is never altered. It is true that we are kept only by Divine
power, but it is also true that Divine power operates only when the
human conditions are maintained. John Wesley said: “To retain the
grace of God is more than to gain the grace of God.” The abundance
of grace does not limit or discard our responsibility.

“If you continue in my word….ye shall know the truth.” Faithfulness
in our human responsibility to God’s word is the gateway to the
knowledge of truth and when we
know the truth it becomes the pathway to freedom, “the truth shall
make you free.”

1. We are only free to the degree that we know the truth and our
lives are regulated by the law of truth. Some say. ‘I’m doing the
best I know’ but so are the heathens that sacrifice their babies to
the crocodiles to appease their gods. It is not enough to do the
best we know, we must know what is best then do it. Jesus said, “If
you know these things, happy are you if you do them.” (John 13: 17)

2. We are only free to the degree that we want to do what we know
we ought to do. No one is free who wants to do what he ought not
do. That is the highest form of slavery. We are truly free when our
desires correspond with what we know God wants from us. Spiritual
freedom is when His duty becomes our delight, and our desires
harmonize with our obligations. Our attitude toward His will for
our lives cannot be merely a resigned helplessness to a right
course of action. But as the Psalmist writes, “I delight to do thy
will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” (Psalms 40:8)

3. We are only free to the degree that we are delivered from the
inward barrier that obstructs and abhors the will and law of God.
That barrier is the carnal mind known by other terms such as the
flesh, innate sin, and the old man. It is an alien element within
the natural man that came about through the fall in the Garden.

As the believer begins his spiritual journey and continues in His
word there will be an intense desire to please the one to whom he
owes his forgiveness. As he continues in his new found faith there
will soon come an awareness of something that is displeasing to
God, namely the remains of carnality. The disposition of the flesh
lusts against the Spirit because they are contrary the one to the
other. He will sense the Spirit calling for him to make a total
abandonment of his life to God in order to be set free from the
carnal mind. “Present your body a living sacrifice holy, acceptable
to God…”(Romans 8: 12) The Methodist expositor, Joseph H. Smith
quaintly stated, “when you were born again the old man got a bump
on the head now quickly have him crucified before he awakens and
causes you problems.” While the old man was dethroned through the
work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration he now seeks its
destruction in entire sanctification.

Jesus prayed in John 17: 17 “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy
word is truth….for their sakes I sanctify myself.” Jesus offers
Himself in total sacrifice on the cross and becomes not only our
source but the means of our spiritual freedom from sin. He wants to
purify our affections, illuminate our understanding, fill us with
His Spirit so that He can reign within our heart without a rival.
If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free
indeed.”

“If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed; and
you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” This
is the call of God for His children to press on in order to find
freedom from the pollution and perversion of sin in this life and
the presence of sin in the life to come. “…you were the servants of
sin, but you have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which
was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, you become
servants unto righteousness.” 

To continue in the word is the same as walking in the light and
keeping His commandments. May we never divorce Divine sovereignty
from human responsibility. Let us be faithful to continue in His
word in order to be His disciples indeed. It has been said that the
grace of commencement can only become the grace of conclusion by
the grace of continuance.

“Make me a captive, Lord, and then I shall be free;
Force me to render up my sword, and I shall conq’ror be.
I sink in life alarms, when by myself I stand,
Imprison me within Thine arms, and strong shall be my hand.”

“My will is not my own, Till Thou hast made it Thine;
If I would reach the monarch’s throne, it must it’s crown resign;
It only stands unbent, amid the clashing strife,
When on Thy bosom it was leant, and found in Thee its life.”

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