John 8:31-32 The Likes and Dislikes of Natural Man 9/18/2016 ßŕ
#1. Abraham’s Seed (John 8:37-40, Rom 9:7)
#2. I Honor My Father (John 8:48-50, Phil 2:8)
#3. Abraham and Christ (John 8:56-58, Rom 4:13, Heb 11:10, Psalm 25:14)
Please open your Bibles to the Gospel according to John 8:31 (2X). In the past two weeks I have brought you two sermons on John chapter 8. Using the background of the first 11 verses the Lord Jesus announced Himself as “the Light of the World”. What was the purpose of this Light? The purpose was to expose the darkness in the souls of this world. And how was this Light received? Not very well. He was rejected wherever He came. People do not like it when their sins are exposed. Today we are going to finish this chapter in the Gospel of John. The title of the sermon today is, “The Likes and Dislikes of Natural Man” (2X). And today we are going to see what reception the Lord Jesus received when He brought the Gospel Truth. How do people react when they hear that they were born in bondage, in slavery, and how will they react when they must consider whether they are
Joh 8:31-32 ¶ Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
Did those Jews in His audience really believe on Him? No! They were not believers the way we understand believers to be. They only temporarily believed on Him, like the seed that fell on the wayside, and temporarily their enmity against Christ was put to rest. That is why Jesus said, “If ye continue in my word”. If they had been true believers there would be no question that they would continue in His Word. This is the mark of true “Discipleship”. Someone who truly has been saved will continue in the Word of God. This is what the Bible teaches. There are no backsliders. And then Jesus said, “Ye shall know the Truth”. To know the Truth is something more definite than to know what is true. To know the Truth means to understand what the Bible says with regard to the salvation of men, and this revelation comes through the mediation of the incarnate Son of God. Christ is the Truth. He said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by Me”. As the Law came by Moses, so grace and Truth came by Jesus Christ. He came to fulfill the signs and the shadows that the OT era was pointing to. Therefore we read in Col 1:5, “Whereof ye heard before in the Word of the Truth of the Gospel”. The truth gives spiritual liberty. But then we read
Joh 8:33 They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?
Joh 8:34-35 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house forever: but the Son abideth ever.
Joh 8:36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
We see here that the natural man does not like to hear that he has to be made free. The plain message in these verses is that before the natural man can be made free he has to hear the Truth. He has to hear that he is unrighteous and not fit to enter God’s holy Heaven and be in the presence of an infinitely righteous God. He has to hear that he has no wisdom concerning the salvation of the Bible and therefore he is full of foolishness and vanity, and all his words and actions are foolishness and vanity in the sight of God. He has to hear that he has no ability or willpower to do anything good in the sight of God, because he is under the complete dominion of sin. He has to hear that he has no freedom to lose himself from the bondage to sin that he is in, because he has been taken captive by the Devil at his will, and he fulfills the lusts of his father the Devil. He has to hear that only the Truth of God can deliver him, but he cannot receive God’s Truth, and he cannot believe God’s Truth, and he cannot please God, and he cannot think a godly thought, and he cannot come to Christ unless God by grace will grant him these abilities. This the natural man does not want to hear. And so, the natural man will deny that he must be made free, and he will deny that he has ever been in bondage. This was the proud boast of these Jews. But even in the literal historical realm they lied. They were in bondage in Egypt, and they were at least 7 times under the yoke of Canaanite kings, and they were in captivity in Babylon, and they were under the yoke of the kings of Persia and Greece, and presently they were under the yoke of the Romans. Likewise today people speak of their own free will to do this or to do that, or to believe the Gospel, and they will hotly deny that their will is enslaved by sin. They have heard that they are now not under the law but under grace, but real spiritual freedom they do not understand, and they cannot understand it when they remain in ignorance about the bondage of sin. The Lord Jesus laid down this important principle in verse 34, where He said, “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin”, and that word “servant” is actually the word “slave”. And so, when people are born into this world and cry out, “speaking lies” according to Psalm 58:3, then they are hooked immediately into being slaves of sin. The sin of our father Adam shows us clearly that one sin is all it takes to become the slaves of sin. Like Israel was born into bondage in Egypt and had to be made free by the power of God, so the natural man born into bondage to sin has to be made free by Christ. The Lord Jesus said in verse 36, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed”. By this He was pointing to His Atonement for our sins on the cross. And since He is God He is fully competent to liberate those who are under the tyranny of sin and under the dominion of Satan. When the Lord Jesus began His ministry He said in the Gospel according to Luke 4:18, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; …… to preach deliverance to the captives, …… to set at liberty them that are bruised”. From what has Christ made us free? What is the freedom that Christ has purchased for us on the cross? At least five things: #1, He delivered us from the wrath of God, which is the just penalty of the Law. #2, He delivered us from the power of Satan and translated us into the Kingdom of Christ. #3, He delivered us from the bondage of sin so that sin has no more dominion over us. #4, He delivered us from the authority of man so that we are no longer afraid of man. #5, He delivered us from this bondage to Satan so that we are now free to serve God and made us able to do those things that are pleasing in His sight. Is this also called freedom? Yes it is, because the saints and angels in glory are called totally free, and yet they are unable to sin, and they always do those things that are pleasing in His sight. The Lord Jesus confronted the Jews with the question, “Are you made free, or are you still in bondage?” This is an important question. Your eternal life or your eternal condemnation depends on it. The dominant theme of this chapter is, “You Must Be Made Free!” But they were too proud to even consider this question. Paraphrased they claimed, “We go straight to heaven because we are Abraham’s seed. We do not need to be made free”. Is that really so? Let us consider:
#1. Abraham’s Seed (John 8:37-40, Rom 9:7)
Joh 8:37-38 I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.
Joh 8:39-40 They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: This did not Abraham.
Here in this chapter a distinction is made between Abraham’s seed and Abraham’s children. Those who are called Abraham’s seed are the physical descendants of Abraham. Those who are called Abraham’s children are the spiritual children of Abraham. This is not an absolute rule, but it is a distinction, which is also made in many other verses. For example, God says in Rom 9:7, “Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called”. Here in John 8:37 the Lord Jesus emphasized that though these Jews were the seed of Abraham, they certainly were not the children of God. There was hatred in their hearts and they were seeking to kill Him who was the Son of God. Moreover, His Word had no place in them, or had no entrance in them. They did not receive His Word because they were wayside hearers. They did not know what to do with the Word of God. The natural man has no place for the Word of God, because he is too busy with his own concerns, and certainly he has no place for the Word of God in his heart. The Lord Jesus emphasized that there is an infinite gulf that separated these Jews from Himself. Now He leads them up to their real parentage. Paraphrased, He says, “Your actions tell who your father is, as My doctrine tells who My Father is”. The basic principle that the Lord Jesus laid out was this: “Men’s character and conduct are things that are formed, and they indicate the character of the one who formed them”. Your actions prove that from a moral and spiritual point of view neither Abraham, nor the God of Abraham is your father. And when they answered Him, “Abraham is our father”, they were reflecting their self-righteousness, because they were contrasting themselves with the heathen. Paraphrased they answered Jesus, “The heathen are in bondage; this we know. But You are now talking to those who belong to the covenant people; we belong to the Jewish church; we go straight to heaven”. Look at today’s churches and listen how their pastors preach. They preach as if everyone in the congregation is saved and on the way to heaven. But if a pastor would preach that everyone comes into the world as a despicable sinner on the way to Hell, and if a pastor dares to apply this to those cute little babies in the congregation, then one half or three quarters of the congregation would leave that church, and the pastor’s salary would be cut by 75%. The great masses of religious people inside the churches have put their trust in a form of godliness, but they know nothing of the power of Godliness. They resent being compared with those on the outside. They will claim to belong to the true Church, and that they are Christians, not infidels. But the Bible clearly teaches us that every church will have her share of infidels. There are unsaved people in every church, and thus the pastor must especially preach to those who need salvation. Here in verse 37 Jesus granted them that they were Abraham’s seed, which means the physical seed of Abraham. But in verse 39 Jesus denied them to be Abraham’s children, because Abraham is the father if them only that believe. Abraham would not condone these actions of the Jews against Jesus. Natural descent counts for nothing, but a spiritual relationship with God counts for everything. Therefore Jesus scolded them that they were:
Joh 8:41-42 Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.
Joh 8:43 Why do ye not understand my speech? Even because ye cannot hear my word.
Joh 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
Joh 8:45 And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.
Joh 8:46-47 Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me. He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.
The Jews said, “We have one Father, even God”. Does this not reflect the beliefs of the church today? Those in far distant lands may be heathen, but America is a Christian country. That is what they say. Well, let us get one thing straight. The United States of America may have been a Christian country 100 years ago, but today America is no longer a Christian country. A nation that has voted God out of their schools, and out of their courts, and have invited pornography into their homes, and have approved the murder of about 2 million babies each year, and are presently approving homosexual marriages cannot be called a Christian nation. And if that nation consistently, every two years, votes politicians into office who openly support such amoral behavior, then that nation is certainly not a Christian nation for the foreseeable future. Two favorite doctrines of the Christians in this nation are the universal Fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man. But these are not doctrines that come out of the Bible. The Lord Jesus plainly stated here that His fellow Jews were of their father the Devil. Who created them? Did the Devil create them or did God create them? Of course, God created them. He created all things, even my dog. But God is not called the Father of my dog. God is not called the Father of the Moslem terrorists who killed over 3000 people in New York on September 11, in the year 2001. In fact, God can only be called the Father of those who truly have been saved and who have been given the faith to believe the whole Bible. These are the children of Abraham and only these, because Abraham is the Father of all those that believe. In fact, all those who do not believe will conduct themselves in such a way as to eradicate the man Jesus out of their lives. O yes, they will still believe in a person called Jesus, but the impotent figure that they worship bears no resemblance to the incarnate holy One who is described on the pages in our Bibles. They have removed Him out of their homes and out of their churches and out of their lives. By this we can discern the children of God from the children of the Devil. And let us not be unequally yoked with unbelievers in business as well as in marriage. Especially watch out for those with a gospel that is so close to the true Gospel. They are the most dangerous, because they lead our children astray without even knowing that they have gone astray. And if you tell them that they have another gospel, they will absolutely deny it. They will tell you what these Jews told Jesus. Consider the next three verses,
#2. I Honor My Father (John 8:48-50, Phil 2:8)
Joh 8:48 Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?
Joh 8:49 Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me.
Joh 8:50 And I seek not mine own glory: There is one that seeketh and judgeth.
They told Jesus that He was a Samaritan, meaning that He was an enemy to their religion. And they told Jesus that He was indwelt by a demon, meaning that He was obsessed by a proud and lying spirit. These were insults thrown in the face of the Lord of glory. What a frightful insult to the One who will be coming as the Judge of all the earth. Jesus calmly answered, “Ye do dishonour Me”. The Lord Jesus Christ was dishonored by man, but the Father was honored by Christ. How did Christ honor the Father? He honored the Father by remaining humble in the face of these insults, because He came as the Suffering Servant of Jehovah. He honored the Father by being obedient to the Father, “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross”, Phil 2:8. When we think of Christ honoring His Father we must think of His humiliation and His crucifixion. The Bible teaches that the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross is the pivotal point in history on which all the OT and NT focuses. There at Calvary occurred the greatest event of all time. The Lord Jesus Christ was bearing the guilt of my sins and the sins of all those whom He came to save, and in order for Him to get back into God’s holy heaven He had to pay the penalty for all those sins, and He had to pay the full price, which was the equivalent of an eternity in Hell. You and I are not able to pay that penalty for an eternity. But Christ was able to pay, because in addition to being fully man He was also fully God. And to prove that the penalty was fully paid, God raised Him from the grave in which He tenderly was laid by Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus.
There at Calvary all the sins of all the elect were fully paid, and all the sins of all the reprobate were passed by. There at Calvary God signed in blood the Last Will and Testament He had drawn up in which the beneficiaries were named, which were all those who were placed in Christ from before the foundation of the world. And there at Calvary our destiny was signed and sealed, and God committed Himself to give us faith. What faith does God give us? Is it a great faith? Yes it is! It is as great a faith as that given to our father Abraham. And all this brings honor and glory to the Lord Jesus Christ, because it was His work. The Father arranged it this way. The Lord Jesus said, “There is one that seeketh and judgeth”, referring to “There is One who seeks My glory, and who is pledged in holy covenant to make Me His firstborn, and exalt Me higher than anything imaginable by earthly standards or by heavenly standards. And He who seeks My glory will also sit in judgment on your judgment”. And then the Lord Jesus continued to speak about the Judgment, and of:
Joh 8:51 ¶ Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.
Joh 8:52 Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death.
Joh 8:53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself?
Joh 8:54-55 Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying.
The Lord Jesus laid down another principle in verse 51, “If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death”. Certainly this cannot refer to physical death of the body, because only two people in the entire history of mankind have escaped physical death. But the Lord Jesus spoke about the 2nd death, which is eternal torment in the Lake of Fire. “If a man keep My saying, he shall never be subject to eternal damnation”. To keep the Word of Christ means to hide it in our heart (Psalm 119:11), and to retain it in our memory (1Cor 15:2). But they understood not His speech and they heard not His words. They were not able to hear, because they were spiritually dead and thus they could not hear. This is the awful condition of the natural man. The things of God are foolishness to him. No matter how simply and plainly the truths of Scripture are explained, the unregenerate are unable to understand them because they are spiritually dead. They are unable because their interests are somewhere else. They are unable because they will not humble themselves before God and cry unto God for a little wisdom. They are unable because their hearts are estranged from God. The Lord Jesus said, “But I know Him, and keep His saying”. Christ would continue to give evidence of His knowledge of the Father by keeping His Word. For Him that Word meant to finish the work that had been given Him to do, and to be obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. The Lord Jesus gave us an example, and He urges us to follow Him in His footsteps. Christ was obedient to the Father’s Word. Therefore, if we really know the Father it will show by our subjection to His Word. Do we know what His Word says? It is important that we read it every day? And there we read about:
#3. Abraham and Christ (John 8:56-58, Rom 4:13, Heb 11:10, Psalm 25:14)
Joh 8:56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
Joh 8:57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?
Joh 8:58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I Am.
Literally verse 56 reads, “Your father Abraham leaped for joy that he should see My day, and he saw and rejoiced”. It says that Abraham looked forward with joy and he jumped for joy that he was allowed to see the Object of is desires. And he saw it and rejoiced. What did Abraham see? Abraham saw the humiliation of the Lord Jesus Christ as it was terminating in the death of Christ. This brought great sorrow to Abraham as he meditated on his sins, but even greater joy when he understood that this suffering and death of Christ would blot out the guilt of all his sins. Moreover, Abraham saw also the victory of Christ over His enemies at the cross and at His resurrection, and the glorification of Christ at His ascension into heaven. But HOW did Abraham see Christ’s day? First, Abraham saw the day of Christ by faith in the promises of God. Secondly, Abraham saw the day of Christ in types and figures. In offering Isaac on the altar and in receiving him back in figure from the dead, Abraham received a marvellous foreshadowing of Christ’s death and resurrection. Thirdly, Abraham saw it by special revelation. We understand from Rom 4:13 and from Heb 11:10 that God was pleased to show the OT saints much more of His Covenant than is written in the Scriptures. We read in Psalm 25:14, “The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant”. Well, Abraham rejoiced when he saw the day of Christ. If these Jews rejoiced not at the appearing of Christ before them, then in no sense were they like Abraham. Then said the Jews to Him, “hast thou seen Abraham?” This was a silly question, because Jesus had not told them of seeing Abraham, but of Abraham seeing His day! But they were unable to distinguish between the two. Then Jesus said unto them, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I Am”. Here was a full disclosure of who Jesus Christ was and still is. Jesus confirmed for us that He is none other than Almighty God. The Jews understood this very well, because they picked up stones to cast at Him. Why do so many people deny that Jesus claimed to be God? They say that Jesus never said this in the Bible. We have come across several instances in this chapter that Jesus Christ claimed to be God. And there are many more chapters in the Bible where this is confirmed. Moreover, If He is not God then we all are in serious trouble. In order for Him to take our sins upon Him, He had to be man, fully man. Man has sinned and thus man must pay the penalty for those sins. But He also had to be God. Only if He was God could He atone for our sins in a period of less than 24 hours. Only if He was God could He endure the equivalent of an eternity in Hell. Only if He was God could He endure such great sorrow in His soul so that He could cry in victory on the cross, “It Is Finished!” If our redeemer is not God then we do not have a Savior, because he would have been consumed in the process of atoning for the sins of even one of His people. If our redeemer is not God then He could never have paid for the sins of all His elect, and He could never have been victorious over Satan and all his demons. But praise God that we understand that the Lord Jesus Christ is God Himself, even if we have trouble grasping this concept. Therefore we shudder when we read that:
Joh 8:59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.
This is a sad chapter in the history of the nation of Israel. Why did God write this in the Bible? Why could He not have written what we read in Luke 4:30, “But He passing through the midst of them went His way”. God explicitly says here in John 8:59, “But Jesus hid Himself”. It is on this sad note that we have to conclude this chapter. You might as well use this as the title for this sermon: “Jesus hid Himself”. For whom did God write this text? God wrote it to us, so that we may know what self-righteousness is. Lovingly God wrote this warning to us, in order that we might not end up like these scribes and Pharisees. Let us consider this context more closely. From whom was Jesus hiding Himself? He was hiding Himself from religious zealots who were picking up stones to cast at Him. And why did they want to kill Him? It was because He, “the Light of the World”, had exposed their violent self-righteousness and has revealed that their religious pretenses were fake. The Lord Jesus did not expose the heathen out there, but He exposed the religious people in the temple. It was not a bunch of hoodlums, but it was a bunch of orthodox Jews who are seen here picking up stones to cast at the Son of God. And they did this not on the public highway, but they did this in the temple. They did not hesitate to kill someone in the temple. Think of it now. If the Lord Jesus would enter the churches in our land, and proclaim to the 40 million people entering their churches on Sunday that most of them were bond slaves of sin, and that they were of their father the Devil and that his lusts they delighted in doing, then most of these 40 million people would conduct themselves exactly as these their forefathers have done 20 centuries ago. And Jesus would have done to them exactly as He did to these their forefathers of 20 centuries ago: “He would have hid Himself” from them and He would have left the churches. He would have hid Himself from the self-righteous and self-sufficient and blind religious formalists. The Lord Jesus Christ still hides Himself from those who have put their trust in a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. For example, if we assign some magical powers to the ceremony of Water Baptism, or the ceremony of the Lord’s Supper, then we have put our trust in a form of godliness. If we believe that we became saved because we accepted the Lord Jesus in our heart when we came forward in church to commit our life to Jesus, or we believe that we accepted the Lord Jesus in our heart when we said the sinner’s prayer, or when we were dunked under, or through any other action of man, then we have put our trust in a form of godliness. The Lord Jesus Christ still hides Himself from those who trust in such religious formalities. Christ still hides Himself from those who deny that they need to be made free from the slavery of sin. He still leaves them to themselves. How beautiful then to hear in our ears the words of our Savior who says in Isa 57:15, “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones”. God says, “to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones”, because we were dead. After God has revived our souls will we be humble toward God and will we be contrite concerning our sins. We can pray to God for a closer walk with Him. And then we realize that God already dwells with us and walks with us and talks with us. What a delightful company. This then brings glory to God, because He made us realize that God has done all the work of salvation, and we did nothing. This is how we give God all the honor and all the glory. AMEN. Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.