In John 8:31-32 Jesus said to some who had believed on 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.”
Abiding in the truth given by Jesus validates that we are His followers. This abiding in His truth, according to Jesus, leads to ongoing knowledge and understanding of His truth as He continues to enlighten us to it. This process, according to Jesus, leads to the freedom that He desires for all of us. Jesus literally connects our experience of freedom in Him to our willingness to acknowledge, understand and live in His truth. Because of this, we must be aware of anything within us or outside of us that impedes us from believing His truth. Jesus said that God’s Word is the truth that sets us apart for Him (John 17:17). Whatever tempts us to disbelieve God’s word undermines the fullness of freedom that Jesus desires for us. What are these potential roadblocks which cause us to stumble in believing the truth, the whole truth and only the truth?
- Watering down God’s Word to the point where the original intent is removed. I call this diminishing truth.
- Adding to or removing from God’s Word so that it fits our personal, family or denominational preferences. I call this editing truth.
- Long-held traditions which actually oppose God’s Word but are rarely or never checked by God’s Word to see if they are scripturally legitimate. I call this ignoring truth.
- Liberal trends of interpretation which morph God’s Word into a completely different message, usually affirming the direction of the present culture. I call this redefining truth.
- When God shows us something in the Word that counters our previously held beliefs, will we humble ourselves, admit we were wrong and thank God for the new clarity He has given? Or will we just hold to our previous position in spite of what we now discern in the Word? For some this simply boils down to being too lazy to realign with truth and accept the resulting changes from that realignment. Pride & laziness will stop us dead in our discipleship and freedom with Jesus. I call this comfort-zoning truth.
- Fear of man. This is huge because some are unwilling to suffer the reproach or stigma which comes from maintaining allegiance to what God has said. This potential for fear happens when our allegiance to the truth causes us to stand out from the world or to have to stand up against religious spirits in the Church. I call this apologizing for truth.
Again, Jesus clearly states that God’s Word is truth. He calls all of us to abide in that truth as being the supreme and final authority for all holy issues of faith and life. My concern continues to grow that many who have committed their lives to Jesus are living their lives abiding in what they were taught about God’s Word, but not actually in the Word itself. They have not gone fully and solely to the Word to see what it actually says about what they believe (or do not believe) on any given subject. This is good for me to recall as I consider my own relationship with Christ: I will appear before Jesus one day and give an account for all of my life. How I lived will be the subject matter evaluated by Him. This occasion is commonly referred to as the Judgment Seat of Christ and is taught in 2nd Corinthians 5:10 and, in more specifics, 1st Corinthians 3:11-15. This moment really is going to occur for every single believer in Jesus Christ. To the degree that I believed wrongly on earth I will have lived insufficiently on earth. I am responsible for my own beliefs and my own life that flows forth from those beliefs. Who would want to risk loss at the evaluation by Jesus Christ and recognize too late that it was due, in part, to the reality that they accepted what they had been taught and failed to seek the truth themselves in God’s Word? This will be the reality of scores of believers who did not abide in the truth but abode instead in what some person, some school or some denomination taught them. We must ask and answer the question, “What do the Scriptures actually say?” Sometimes we must address the possibility of whether or not anything we have believed (or chosen not to believe) has moved us out of the place of abiding in truth and moved us into standing in some other place, some lesser place. Let all the followers of Jesus acknowledge His Lordship by not allowing our fingerprints to besmirch His truth. We are not to touch it. We are to believe it. All of it. As it is given.
This abiding in truth, says Jesus, proves that we are His followers indeed (John 8:31).