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John 8:23-40

How to be Free Indeed

  • Rich Jones
  • Weekend Messages
  • September 30, 2018

Jesus said that the Father sent Him to be the Light of the world. The world is in darkness and people need hope; they need to be set free from the prison that has held them captive. God is doing something about it; He sent Jesus to set captives free and to be the light of the world.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

How to Be Free Indeed

John 8:23-40

In John 8, Jesus was in the temple teaching those who gathered to hear Him. Jewish leaders were also in the crowd to challenge what He is teaching.

Jesus said that the Father sent Him to be the Light of the world. The world is in darkness and people need hope; they need to be set free from the prison that has held them captive. God is doing something about it; He sent Jesus to set captives free and to be the light of the world.

The theme of these verses is freedom. The problem is that most people don’t understand what it means to be free. What many people think is freedom is actually bondage. Why? Because their idea of freedom is to give full expression to their flesh, not understanding that what they are doing is of darkness and is keeping them in bondage to the very thing they thought was the expression of their freedom.

Earlier in this chapter, the Jewish leaders brought a woman caught in the very act of adultery. Jesus set her free from the condemnation of the law, from the condemnation of the Jewish leaders and He set her free from her sin. “Let him who has no sin cast the first stone,” Jesus said. And then, after they had all dropped their stones and left, He turned to the woman. “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you? I do not condemn you either. Go your way and sin no more.”

When Jesus taught that the truth makes people free, the Pharisees responded, “We are Abraham’s offspring and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that you say, ‘You shall become free?’” However, at that very moment they were under the oppression of Rome and before that it was the Greeks and before that it was the Babylonians and before that they were enslaved in Egypt for 400 years.

They couldn’t see. They were blind. When they brought the woman caught in adultery, they couldn’t see that they had sin in their own lives. They couldn’t see that they were in fact enslaved to Rome at that very moment and they couldn’t see that God’s Messiah was standing right in front of them.

God sent His Son to set people free.

Romans 8:1-2, Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.

In these verses Jesus gives one of the greatest truths known to man; that the truth will set you free.

I.Walk in the Light of Life

  • In verse 12 Jesus said that the one who follows after Him shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life.
  • The light of life is found in walking in the truth. The battle for the soul is won or lost with truth or lies.
  • Darkness hides the truth; light reveals it, for better or for worse.



Illus – If you get up in the morning and look in the mirror, you might actually prefer the darkness. But if the light reveals the truth, at least you can do something about it, or at least you can try to do something about it.

  • If you live in darkness you can’t see the dangers before you.

Illus – My wife and I visited the Grand Canyon a few years ago and we were both amazed that the path along the rim often had no guard rails. The Grand Canyon is not a place to walk in the darkness. In other words, darkness hides the danger.

  • Some people prefer the darkness, however. Why? Two reasons; first, if they knew the truth it would ruin their fun; second, they’re afraid to have their deeds exposed.

John 3:19-21, “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, but men loved the darkness rather than the Light, because their deeds were evil.For everyone who does evil hates the Light and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”

A.Believing lies empowers them

  • If light is associated with truth, then darkness is associated with lies.
  • Here is an important insight; lies have no power unless they are believed.


Illus – A couple years ago our granddaughter, Aviah, told me that some kids at school said she was crazy and dumb and stupid; to which I responded, “Is it true?”

Illus – Adam and Eve believed the serpent’s lies; that’s how they were defeated.

Genesis 3:4-5, The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

  • The enemy’s greatest weapon is lies.
  • In fact, at one point in this conversation with the Pharisees sparks really begin to fly and Jesus says, “Why do you not understand what I’m saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. You are of your father the devil… There is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies.”
  • Jesus said that the devil was a liar from the beginning; it’s his greatest weapon. In the book of Revelation he is called the “Accuser of the brethren.”
  • He doesn’t even have to make things up; there is enough failure in everyone’s past to remind you of and keep you in shame.
  • Many people have been defeated by being constantly reminded of their failings. The problem is that our failures are only part of the story. You must have an answer in your heart for when you are accused.
  • The answer is that your standing before God is not based on your failures, but on what Christ has done for you on the cross. Your sin is now paid in full by the blood of Christ, therefore, who can condemn you?






Romans 8:33-35, Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ?

B. In believing you have life

  • Verse 30 — as He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him. In fact, John wrote this book so that you might believe…

John 20:31, “These have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”

  • There is a connection between faith and what we hear…

Romans 10:17, Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

  • Verse 42 —“If God were your Father, you would love Me; for I proceeded forth and have come from God.”
  • Verse 43 — “Why do not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word.”
  • He then connects it all together in verse 47, “He who is of God hears the words of God.”
  • If you have a heart after God as your Father, you want to hear His word and that’s what transforms your life. He is the truth; He speaks words that transform you by the truth because you want to hear them.



Illus – When my wife was young she was riding a horse that didn’t understand her voice at all and did the opposite of what she wanted it to do.

Illus – Monty Roberts wrote the book, The Man who Listens to Horses. A better title might have been, the man who gets horses to listen to him. He discovered that horses have a language and understood that language to the point that he could take a horse from the wild and train him to be ridden in 27 minutes. The horse knew the master could speak to him and was transformed by it.

  • That brings us to some of the most significant words Jesus taught…

II. The Truth will Set You Free

  • Jesus was saying to those who had believed Him, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
  • They came to believe in Him, but there was more they needed in their lives. These words are extremely important because they apply so directly to our own lives. God also wants to make us free.


A. Abide in His Word

  • Abiding in His Word makes you free because truth is a transforming power.
  • To “abide” means to dwell there, to live there.


Illus – You abide in your home. It’s where you go for refuge, for refreshing, to be nourished, and for relationship.

Ephesians 3:16-19, That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

  • Abiding in His Word is like a tree planted by a stream; it is constantly drinking in the water which brings life to the entire tree.

Jeremiah 17:8, He will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.

Illus – By the way, an update on my miracle tree. It’s not dead, there are signs of life!

  • Not only is it important to abide in His Word, He also says that His word needs to abide in us. In verse 37 Jesus said to the Pharisees, “You seek to kill Me because My word has no place in you.”
  • Does His word have a place in you? Does His word make a difference in your life? Does the Word of God rule over your opinions or actions?


Colossians 3:16, Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…

  • Jesus gave a parable where He taught that the Word of God is like seed planted in your heart. In other words, it dwells in the heart that receives it and is good.

Luke 8:15, “But the seed in good soil, these are the ones who have heard the Word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.”

B. Then you are truly disciples of Jesus



John 14:23-24, Jesus said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words;”

C. Truth is a transforming power

  • Jesus said that if you abide in His word, then you shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free. And then a few verses later, “He whom the Son sets free is free indeed.”
  • First of all, lies are powerful; they can destroy someone’s life and reputation.


Illus – Early in Billy Graham’s ministry he knew he must be careful. He must not allow the enemy an opportunity to create a lie, so he and his team created the famous “Modesto Manifesto.” They committed to taking every precaution so as protect what God was doing. That included never being alone with a woman other their wives. They would not even enter an elevator if it meant being alone with a woman.

  • The enemy is a liar, the father of lies, and a liar from the beginning. Lies can keep people in a spiritual prison.
  • If lies keep people in prison, then it is the truth that sets people free. Truth nullifies a lie.


Psalm 19:7-8, The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.

Illus – Many people have heard lies about them since they were young and remain caught in the grip of those lies. This is why it’s so important to abide in the truth and to be set free by its transforming power.

In my life growing up there were two competing forces; my father’s anger and alcoholism and my mother’s faith. I praise God for my mother’s insistence that we go to church, so we could hear the truth, because the truth sets people free.

Galatians 5:1, It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

  • God seeks to transform you spiritually. In John 4, Jesus said, “God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and truth.”
  • Truth is a transforming power and the evidence of change is seen spiritually. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
  • You used to be angry, now you can forgive. Your soul was once sick, now you can have life and peace.




John 8:23-40 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
23 And He was saying to them, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. 24 Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that [a]I am He, you will die in your sins.” 25 So they were saying to Him, “Who are You?” Jesus said to them, “[b]What have I been saying to you from the beginning? 26 I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and the things which I heard from Him, these I speak to the world.” 27 They did not realize that He had been speaking to them about the Father. 28 So Jesus said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that [c]I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me. 29 And He who sent Me is with Me; He [d]has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.” 30 As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him.
The Truth Will Make You Free
31 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?”
34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are Abraham’s descendants; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word [e]has no place in you. 38 I speak the things which I have seen [f]with My Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father.”
39 They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus *said to them, “If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham. 40 But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do.


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