Letters to the Prison - Week 87

Hello, everyone.  We miss our in-person fellowship with you.  It is so important to gather in person to worship and consider God’s word together.  We encourage you to take every opportunity to do that very thing with other believers in your midst as you are able.  Pray together… read Scripture together… encourage one another.  We hope to return to you soon.
Meanwhile, we hope these letters encourage you.  We’re continuing our study of John 8 and Jesus has some very difficult things to say to a group of people who supposedly “believed in him,” (John 8:30) but weren’t acting as if they did.  He continues with a challenging rhetorical question and a scathing accusation: “Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word” (John 8:43).  Then, Jesus proceeds to accuse these so-called “believers” of being children of the devil.  Why?  Because the devil was a “murderer from the beginning” who has “nothing to do with the truth” (John 8:44) and here are these people claiming to believe in Jesus while at the same time plotting to kill him.  So, they too are murderous liars --like their father, the devil, according to Jesus-- who do not accept the truth (John 8:45-46) because they are children of the “father of lies” (John 8:44).  And, in case anyone misses this dire accusation, Jesus sums it up bluntly:
•Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”-John 8:47
Beloved friends, this is a dire warning –and it is levelled directly at us or anyone else who claims to believe in Jesus.  We need to examine ourselves –our behavior, our words, and our motives—to see which father we belong to.  And there are only two options.  We either “love Jesus,” “hear the words of God” and “do what Abraham did” (John 8:39, 42, 47) or we are “of our father the devil” (John 8:38, 41, 44).  There’s no in-between and there’s no other option.  Jesus makes it plain.  We need to be honest with ourselves.  Is Jesus who he says he is?  It’s a “yes or no” question.  But even if we answer “yes,” do our motivations, words, and actions align with our answer?  We need to consider such things very personally, carefully, and honestly.  And ask God for help.  Otherwise, we might respond the way Jesus’ audience did:
•“Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” -John 8:48
Of all the ways someone could respond to a blunt truthful conviction from the very Son of God, this is probably the worst.  Rather than accepting the truth of Jesus’ words… rather than considering their own behavior…rather than recognizing their own hypocrisy…  and rather than repenting… these people chose to go on the offensive.  In those days and in that culture, calling Jesus a “Samaritan” was the worst possible insult imaginable.  And accusing Jesus of “having a demon” meant that Jesus wasn’t even in control of himself… that he had lost his mind.  Worse.  Accusing the self-proclaimed Son of God of “having a demon” meant that either Jesus was insane, a liar, or that he himself belonged to a demon and not God --or all the above… at worst, it was accusing God himself of being a demon.  It was the worst imaginable brand of blasphemy… accusing God of being a demon… it is an unforgivable sin (Matt. 12:31).  It was a deceptive, defensive response from sinful people who were lying to themselves and God.
Is this how we respond when God’s word convicts us?  Pray, dear friends.  Let us always be honest with ourselves, each other, and God.  We love you.  Until next week!

Dean A.

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