Welcome to the STC Sheffield podcast. My name is Helen, and it is lovely to be able to continue our journey through the book of John with you; and especially nice to be following on from my husband Alan. I hope that you can cope with 2 weeks of the Wards!
Over the course of the next 5 days our theme is going to be ‘Truth and Lies.’
Today our Bible reading is John Chapter 8 vs31-47, and we are going to be looking at 2 particular verses. I’m reading them from the ESV translation.
The first is verse 31:
“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
The second is verse 44, in which Jesus describes the Devil by saying, “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
In these two verses, our theme for the week is exemplified: Truth and Lies.
However, this is far more than a theme for the week……this is actually a summary of Jesus’ entire life and ministry, it is central to the good news of Christ.
Firstly, on the truth side, we have Jesus. Not just on the side of truth, but the Truth himself.
In the book of John, perhaps more than any other Gospel, we see Jesus presented in this way. Jesus repeatedly explains and describes his purpose and his calling as one of speaking and revealing truth. Flick through the chapters of John and you’ll see just how many times Jesus starts to speak using the phrase ‘Truly, truly’ or ‘Very truly I tell you.’ And in Chapter 14, we read Jesus’ powerful declaration: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No-one comes to the Father except through me.”
Standing against this, on the lies side, the Devil really does not come across that well. A murderer from the beginning and the father of lies – not really the type of person I would choose to hang around with. But it’s so easy to…..so tempting to……why is that?
Why do we find ourselves listening to the father of lies, when we know that the truth that we find in Jesus will lead us to a place of freedom?
Truth and freedom sound so much better. They are so much better.
And yet, so many of us still live under the shadow of the father of lies. Why?
The answer comes in two parts.
Firstly, it’s because that is where the Devil wants us to stay.
His whole strategy, his plan of attack, is based on lies, and how he can keep individuals enslaved to them, caught in a web of deceit, and blinded to the fact that there could be a different reality, or an alternative way to live, to feel and to be. Cunning as a serpent, the Devil knows that the best lies are those that sound like, and stay close to, the truth. And he is so good at it, because he’s been doing it right from the beginning, in the Garden of Eden. However subtle his lies, they are still deadly – the father of lies is a murderer because he robs people of the life that God intended for them to live.
The second reason why it is hard to overcome the lies of the Devil is because this means we have to face the truth.
We need to admit that we are a slave to sin. We need to be honest about the times we have acted in our own selfish interests, and not put God first; we have to confess those thoughts or beliefs that reflect our worldly desires or insecurities, and not the attitudes and ideals that we see in the life of Jesus. We need to stop living and acting in a way that affirms the lie that happiness and peace are only found when we have a beautiful house, a loving partner, and we fit into a size 8 dress.
Facing the truth can be painful, it can be hard work, and it can make us feel incredibly vulnerable, but ultimately facing the truth leads to freedom.
However, before the truth we see and find in Jesus can set us free, we need to be good electricians and good gardeners, and we need to remember that God is a great photographer.
As good electricians, we need to do some work on the circuit boards of our minds, so that we have strong connections to the truth, and are not dangerously wired to the world.
As good gardeners, we need to uproot the lies, which like weeds choke and destroy, and we need to re-plant truth in their place. As all gardeners know, if you leave a flower bed empty after you have cleared it, the weeds will just come back again.
And finally, we need to know that God is the master photographer. When we step out from the darkness into the light, we can feel over exposed, but in that process we need to remember that because of what Jesus did on the cross, the image of us that God sees is perfect.
At the start of this week, as we look at truth and lies, let’s take some time to ask ourselves the following questions:
Where do we need to do the work of an electrician, and unplug some dangerous connections? What are the lies that we have believed about ourselves, about God, or what it means to live a Jesus centred life?
Where do we need to be good gardeners and do the work of re-planting? What Biblical truth or kingdom value do we need to believe and cultivate in our lives?
And where do we need God to be a photographer, and send the Holy Spirit to reveal and expose those areas of our lives that need transformation?
When we uproot the lies, and re-wire to the truths of Jesus, we will know what it means to live as children of God, not as slaves to the father of lies, and then we will experience true freedom.
Lord Jesus, thank you that true freedom can be found only through you. Help us in the process of uprooting and disconnecting the lies we have believed, and help us to abide in your Word, and plant your truths into our lives. Amen.
READING: John 8:31-47 (ESV)
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”
They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are doing the works your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”