"So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." (John 8:31-32)
In our text, Jesus is speaking to those who believe in Him. If we the followers of Jesus stay and stand upon His Word, then we are the faithful followers of Jesus. Before this, we were of the worldly way and walking on the broad road of life. For me the broad road was an easy road to travel. Because of the twisted truths of the worldly way I did not realize that I had been captured, as I believed that I was a free soul doing as I pleased. Then I found that in all my endeavors I never found satisfaction. I found myself as in a boat being tossed about by the rolling waves. I would paddle this way and then that and never really knew where I was going. It was as if I was chasing rabbits that would bring me fun and pleasure, but their path always led to the briar patch. When I had finally reached the bottom of the pit and knew there was nothing left, there was nowhere else to go, and there was nothing that I had not tried to test, there was just me singing where can I go but to the Lord. We who follow Jesus let us never forget that we all have been there. Never let us forget the life we lived as slaves to our sinful ways. Let us not forget the love that saved us and let us never forsake that love towards another who is digging their own pit. And let us ever remember that we must continue in His Word for it is the truth, His truth that set us free.
We must continue in His Word, for this is where we receive His guidance and the power to accomplish His plan and purpose for our life. If we are to let His Spirit fill the sails of our life and move us towards or destination then we must remain in His Word for that is our only offensive weapon, the Sword of the Spirit. (Ephesians 6:17) We pray each day give us Lord our daily bread. What we are asking for is our spiritual food to equip us each day to face the spiritual challenges of the day. Jesus said, "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)
We are in a spiritual war against evil forces in the heavenly places, which affect every aspect of life here in this world. (Ephesians 6:12) Our battle is not against man but the evil spirit that has come over man. It affects the whole of the community of man that we live in. It affects us in that as we are followers of Jesus the adversary desires to take us down from the higher road we seek to travel. Jesus fought the Devil in the wilderness with the very same weapon that He has given each of us, the Sword of the Spirit. It is the very word that the Holy Spirit brings to our mind in the hour of our need. "For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say." (Luke 12:12)
The sin of our past has been removed as far as the east is from the west by the mercy and grace of God, but our battle with sin is far from over. We are of the Kingdom, but we are living in the kingdom of the world where the ruler of this world prowls to and fro. "And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience." (Ephesians 2:1-2) We must put off our desires of the flesh and turn away from our deliberate sinful thoughts that invade, our words and deeds, and omissions that are contrary to the Word of God that we have surrendered and now abide in.
Upon conversion, we have been crucified with Christ in the flesh, and we no longer live in the flesh, for we are dead to its evil desires. We now live in the spirit, His Spirit which now dwells within our heart that He may live through us. As we go through our day the question is not what Jesus would do in the circumstances we face each day but what would He have us do. It is the fellowship that we have with our Lord, a partnership in which we live through Him in His power. "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me." (Galatians 2:20)
The Apostle Peter walked upon the water literally. At the time, there was a storm raging on the Sea of Galilee, and the wind had caused the waves to whip up and churn as he walked across. It was not a walk in the park but a challenge much like we face daily in our walk. Peter did it in spite of the seeming impossibility until he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the storm around him. Our walk of faith is not seeing the reality of what is but seeing the sure possibility of what will be. It is a walk of faith in the promises of God’s Word. The Apostle Paul envisions his walk with Jesus as a race. Paul tells us to be like the runner in a race and cast off that which weighs us down. (1 Corinthians 9:24-25) So we must let go of the things of this world that would become a stumbling block to the race that we are running. We cannot expect to victoriously live if we allow that which would hinder us to remain in our lives. Un-repented sin creates a veil between us and our source of power. "Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith." (Hebrews 12:1-2)
Let us keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus. He is the goal of our lives that we would grow to be more like Him. A child as he grows desire to be like his parents. We have a Heavenly Father, and we desire to become as He is. We have been justified through faith in Jesus, and now we must be sanctified by our spiritual growth to become the image of Jesus. We do this by watching Him by seeing what He is doing, and by learning His ways. We draw near to Him because He is the object of our love. "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." (James 4:8)
The second thing we need to remember and employ is that as followers of Jesus, we are members of His Church. We are on the narrow path, we are walking above the storms of life in this world, we have our eye fixed upon our leader, and we must remember that we are a part of a saintly congregation. We are members of the body of Christ, and some have and are fighting the very struggle that we are facing. We need to seek like-minded believers, those who are founded in the Word of God, and form accountability to each other that we may strengthen each other in our walk. "So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit." (Ephesians 2:19-22) The power comes from our Lord, and there is community power in the fellowship with the saints.
We do not want to be as some who fall by the roadside and are carried away. We must become involved members of His Church. "Not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near." (Hebrews 10:25) Members of His Church are not strangers to one another as we are all of the same body, His Church. It is a Christian brotherhood that is related to each as kin through the bond of love for one another that we have in the Lord Jesus Christ. "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit." (1 Corinthians 12:13)
As we have accountability with our Christian partner, we also have the members of our Christian family to encourage us in our struggle against the spiritual forces that come against is. Everyone needs the strength of accountably, and everyone also requires the strength of encouragement. We all need to receive encouragement, and we all need to give encouragement. My father once told me to be just a gracious to receive as we are to give. "Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing." (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
I had a member of the Church say to me, “The problem with Churches is they are filled with people.” I am sorry to say that I answered him somewhat sarcastically by saying that he was on the wrong planet. But since we are on this planet and it is filled with people let us not look at them not as they are but as God sees them. God sees people as who they are going to be through His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners that we might be free of the chains and able to run towards His Kingdom. Let us see people as God does with eyes of love. Let us see people in His truth. Let us see people as family, for we are members of His family. "Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another." (Ephesians 4:25)
Thomas N Kirkpatrick
First Baptist Church of Durant, June 23, 2015