37 I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”39 They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham's children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, 40 but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 41 You are doing the works your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 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 8:37-47 (ESV)
“You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
When you hear these words you would think that Jesus is speaking to a biker convention, a coven or wiccan practitioners at one of those so called Renaissance Festivals. But that isn’t who he is speaking to. He is speaking to a group of the most upstanding citizens a country or town could hope to have. He is speaking to a group of people who are zealous for good works, works that even you and I would consider good, and there is the rub. They can’t stomach what Jesus teaches because he says they are not free, in essence the works they do are not good, but evil because they are done while one is under bondage to sin, and coerced by the law. And because they can’t stomach the gospel that Jesus preaches, the truth that will set them free, they seek to kill Jesus. Stockholm syndrome has taken over the world, we do the bidding of those who hold us hostage.
The truth will set you free. That is what Jesus has told them. They can’t understand it. Free? Free from what? Are we slaves? Anyone who sins is as slave to sin. They begin to speak of their father, Abraham, and Jesus corrects them, your father is the devil. Not in the sense that the devil has created them, but that the devil has corrupted them, and they have adopted him, even unknowingly, by rejecting their own Father and his word. Their father is the devil, because they are not free.
The truth will set you free. Let’s think about that for a minute in regards to this myth of free will that we hear so much about these days. It is precisely the will that needs to be set free here. Not in the sense that these men were unable to make choices for themselves. The bondage of the will is not concerned with what you eat for dinner, or the woman you choose to marry, or the job you take. These are all things that a person has freedom to choose. To a certain extent you can even choose the manner in which you sin. You can choose the licentious route of the Bikers and Wiccans, or you can choose the legalist route of the Pharisees. Either way, you are still sinning. Yes, sin so corrupts us that it even turns our attempts to follow God’s law into sin. When the good works are done in order to achieve our own righteousness, or as the common parlance will have it, our sanctification, then even these works of the flesh by which we seek to finish what was begun by the Spirit, even these are sinful. In either case it is us trying to supplant God, and to earn our own salvation apart from the cross, apart from grace, apart from accepting charity. Perhaps we are willing to accept a helping hand, but we resent the idea that God has to do it all for us. We resent the idea that we are slaves to the law, and slaves to sin. And yet we all die, we all receive our wages. Yes, that is what we earn with the works of this life, death, the wages of sin.
But the truth will set you free. And Jesus Christ is the truth, the way and the life. He sets us free with his death on the cross. He sets us free with his blood. That we who are children of the devil according to the flesh, might become children of Abraham who was reckoned righteous on account of his faith. Children of promise, who only in the light of Christ’s mercy are now free, and being free able to do good works.