Reading John 8:31 – 47
Two, let us say, religious extremist fathers are sitting enjoying a quiet pint of goat milk. One takes out his wallet and starts flipping through the pictures. This is my oldest son. He’s a martyr. This here is my second son. He’s also a martyr! The second extremist father nods – “they blow up so fast these days, don’t they”?
A guy asked his skydiving instructor – if the chute does not open and the reserve does not open either, how long until I hit the ground? The instructor looked at him and said – “the rest of your life”.
Today we want to talk about – the rest of your life. Now I know what some of you may be thinking – Mark is going to get on the high horse of “freedom” again. Because from our passage;
John 8:36 If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!
Freedom is not my horse – that horse belongs to Jesus and Jesus alone – but He does want us to ride with Him. It is for Freedom that Christ has set you free (Gal 5:1). Your Freedom and mine was His whole purpose. And so Freedom is the foundation of the entire Bible, and the whole Gospel story. And so today we are going to be looking at a human condition that is truly puzzling, when we have been offered full Freedom.
If you somehow had two fathers – one was good and full of love and kindness and gentleness. The other – mean, abusive, manipulative and full of deceit. Which one do you think would you be drawn to, which one would you listen to?
How many of you would listen to and believe what the deceitful father had to say? Who would listen to the father who loves you with all his heart?
And yet when it comes to spiritual things – in the Bible we are introduced to two fathers as well – but how we respond, is a true puzzle.
Firstly we are introduced to;
Matt 23:9 And do not call anyone on earth “father”, for you have one Father, and He is in Heaven.
Now this doesn’t literally mean you can’t call your father “father”. The emphasis is that God, the One who created us is far more our true Father. And while even the best earthly Dads are not perfect – Father in Heaven is!
What do we know about this Father?
James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the Heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
Our Father is perfectly good. There is no bad in Him. He is solid and trustworthy and faithful – not shifty.
Zeph 3:17 The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. Wow! Your Father is God! And your Father in Heaven delights in you and rejoices over you with singing.
Jesus is speaking in;
Luke 15:8 – 10 Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbours together and says – rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin. In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.
A Palestinian woman, in those days, received 10 silver coins as a wedding gift. Besides their monetary value, these coins held great sentimental value – maybe like an expensive wedding ring today. But the point of this passage is – God rejoices over you before the Angels. You are His greatest joy. You are His most valued treasure. And if you are lost to Him, He will never ever stop looking for you!
And what does this Father say to us?
Gen 1:27 God created man in His own image – and He saw what He had made and it was very good.
To the One who made you, you are very good. If at times you feel worthless or of little value, remember God made you for a reason, you are valuable to Him. Just how valuable?
John 3:16 – 17 For God so loved the world that He gave His One and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.
Rom 8:1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. There is absolutely no condemnation – because your Father’s love for you is absolute – and He values you more than anything in Creation.
What else does our Father want us to know? He wants us to know what love is.
1 John 3:16 This is how we know what love is; Jesus Christ laid down His life for us….
Eph 1:4 – 5 For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons [and daughters] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will.
He sacrificed everything for you. You are His greatest treasure, and His greatest pleasure! Something I’ve discovered recently, which is a real challenge, is just how hard most of us find it to personalize scripture. To put our names into the words. I have found this most humbling and beautiful.
This is how Mark knows what love is; Jesus Christ laid down His life for Mark….
For God so loved Mark He gave His One and Only Son that Mark can believe in Him and not perish but have eternal life.
There is no condemnation for Mark.
God created Mark in His image.
The Lord your God is with Mark, He is mighty to save Mark. He will take great delight in Mark, He will quiet Mark with His love, He will rejoice over Mark with singing.
God chose Mark before the creation of the world.
In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over Mark.
Jesus came that Mark may have life and have it to the full.
Do you believe God? Do you believe all scripture is God’s Word, a personal love letter to you, by name? Are you able to personalize Scripture – to put your name where I have put mine? If not, why, do you think? But please try it!
And then we are introduced to a different kind of father. Jesus, is talking to those Jews who still wanted to kill Him, He says from our reading;
John 8:44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is
no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of all lies.
What are we told about this father? He is a murderer, there is no truth in him. He is a liar and the father of all lies. Jesus calls him a thief;
John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
While our focus is to be on God – we must never forget that there is also an enemy. He is the father of lies and there is absolutely no truth in him. If he speaks, you are guaranteed of one thing – it is not the truth, it is all lies – every single word.
And I believe the devil has two tactics. One is that we underestimate him – ignore this whole spiritual side of things – trying to intellectualize everything away, seeing only the physical.
We do not appreciate the spiritual or that we are spiritual beings living in a spiritual universe. The other tactic is to overestimate him. Where now everything is his fault – there’s a demon under every bush. My watch stops working because I’m under spiritual attack – no, the battery just died. But I do believe every single one of us are under constant spiritual attack.
1 Pet 5:8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
And what is the father of lies maybe saying to you?
Does God really love you? Does He really like you? Are you really good enough?
Did Jesus Christ really lay down His life for Mark?
Does God really, so love Mark that He gave His One and Only Son that Mark can believe in Him and not perish so that Mark can have eternal life?
Mark messes up all the time – you should see some of the thoughts he has, is there really no condemnation for this Mark? Is Mark really valuable and precious to God? Does God really rejoice over Mark?
Did God really choose Mark before the creation of the world – and have a special plan and purpose for him.
And by undermining God and tempting us to doubt God at His Word – I am robbed of why Jesus came – that Mark may have life and have it to the full. I am robbed of the Truth, bound by lies, and I am robbed of my Freedom in Christ.
And so why do we find it so much easier to listen to the father of lies and not our True Loving
Father in Heaven?
It may be different for every one of us – but perhaps the heart of it is – we know what we are really like. And deep deep down, we know the things we do and the thoughts we have, and we don’t even like ourselves for it, so how could God like us – we are self condemning, even when He is not condemning us? And again we simply are not believing God our Father at His Word.
Rom 5:8 But God demonstrates His love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!
He even loved us when we were at our worst. God knows even better than you – what you are really like. And yet He loves you with all His heart. And no matter what you think or think of yourself – nothing will change that Truth.
Tell me, how would you feel if you are telling someone you love, the truth about something that is the most important thing in all the world to you – and they will just not believe you.
They give you no credit, doubt you are being honest – they write you off, they undermine and ridicule you with their unbelief – not only not believing what you are saying, but not believing in you. I wonder how God feels? Thankfully He is a Father full of Grace.
We are made in God’s image.
John 4:24 God is spirit, and His worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth.
God is Spirit. And we are spirit. And so our relationship with Him is a spiritual relationship. And yes there is a physical dimension to us – but we are spirit with a body, not body with a spirit.
And we have a Spiritual Father in Heaven. And there is the father of lies. And so why do you find it so much easier to believe the father of lies than your Father in Heaven?
Because the father of lies always brings into question what the Father has said. Right back at the beginning in Genesis when he is tempting Adam and Eve – his trick is to put doubt in their minds;
Gen 3:1 Did God really say….
And I want to proclaim to you today – YES – God has really said!
Although God and the devil are at war, we do not have to wait until the end to see who will win. God has already defeated Satan, and when Christ returns, the devil and all he stands for will be eliminated forever. Satan is here now, however, and he is trying to win us over to his evil cause by lying to us that we’re not good enough for God.
But your true Father in Heaven is trying to win your heart. Because He loves you with all His heart. And we have no excuse – God is Spirit and we are made in His image. And;
Gal 4:6 Because you are sons [and daughters], God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba”, Father.
God is your Dad. And we are not on our own in our spiritual relationship with Him, trying to figure this all out. He has given us of His Spirit that we might fully connect with Him as Father and Son, as Father and Daughter. But you have to believe the Truth.
Listen to your only Father, in Heaven. And stop listening to the father of lies. And be Free – for the rest of your life! Go horse riding with Jesus!