John 8:12 ESV
“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’”
Following Jesus Christ is not optional for the person of true faith in Jesus Christ. We can’t separate “believer” and “disciple.” If we don’t become a disciple then we are not a true believer. For Jesus said that if anyone would come after him he must deny self, take up his cross daily (daily die to sin and to self) and follow (obey) him. He doesn’t separate “believer” from “disciple.” And we are called to make disciples of Christ of people.
Paul didn’t separate “believer” from “disciple” either. He taught that faith in Jesus Christ meant dying with Christ to sin and living to God and to his righteousness. He taught that faith in Jesus Christ meant our old self was crucified with Christ in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin but to God and to his righteousness, and that if sin is what we obey it ends in death, not life.
So, believing in Jesus means we follow Jesus in obedience. The two can’t be separated. For the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. And if we say we know God but we do not obey his commands (New Covenant) then we are liars. And if we say we have fellowship with God while we still walk in habitual and deliberate sin, we are liars and the truth is not in us.
So, those who believe in Jesus Christ with God-given faith have been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and they have been raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Sin is no longer their master but Jesus is their Lord. Sin has been put to death in their lives so that they can now walk in obedience to the Lord. And now they are the Lord’s disciples and their lives should no longer be characterized by those who walk in darkness but who walk in the light as God is in the light, and the blood of Jesus cleanses them from all sin.
[Lu 9:23-26; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:19-20; 2 Co 5:15; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10]
John 8:31-32 ESV
“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed 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.’”
Remember how James said that even the demons believe in Jesus and yet they shudder? (Jas 2:19) Not all belief is of God. Not all belief is the kind that ends up in salvation from sin and eternal life with God. Some belief is of the flesh and it is shallow and it does not turn the person from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God so that he can receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 26:18).
Jesus knew these Jews had not really believed in him which is why he told them that IF they abide in his word, then they are truly his disciples, and then they will know the truth of the gospel of our salvation and that truth, if they believe it in truth, will set them free from their slavery to sin, and it will give them the hope of eternal life with God. So what Jesus was describing was progressive salvation. We must walk in that truth to have eternal life.
Jesus taught progressive salvation and so did Paul and so did John, etc. We are saved (past), we are being saved (present and active), and we will be saved (future) when Jesus returns and he takes his bride to be with him for eternity, which is when our salvation will be complete and not until then. But this is conditional on us continuing to walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh, and to walk in obedience to our Lord and not in sin. For if we make sin our practice we will not inherit eternal life with God.
[Jn 8:31-32,51; Jn 14:15-24; Jn 15:1-12; Rom 2:6-8; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 11:17-24; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; Col 1:21-23; 2 Tim 2:10-13; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 5:9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:1-5; 2 Pet 1:5-11; 2 Pet 2:20-22; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Matt 7:21-23; 1 Jn 2:3-6,15-17,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10,24; 1 Jn 5:2-3; 2 Jn 1:6; Jas 1:21-25; Eph 4:17-24]
So, the Jews responded to Jesus by stating that they were the offspring of Abraham and that they had never been enslaved to anyone. And then this was Jesus’ response:
John 8:34-36 ESV
“Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.’”
Again, this is teaching progressive salvation because the end result is subject to what we practice in this life. If we sow to please the flesh, we will reap destruction, but if we sow to please the Spirit, we will reap eternal life. If sin is what we practice, it will end in death. But if righteousness and obedience are what we practice, it will end in eternal life with God.
Well, then the Jews who had believed Jesus claimed that Abraham was their father and then Jesus said that if they were Abraham’s children that they would be doing the works that Abraham did. And then he told them plainly that they were doing the works their father did and that they were of their father the devil, and that their will was to do their father’s (the devil’s) desires. Wow! (You can read the whole conversation in John 8:31-59)
So, what does this teach us? We can’t practice sin and be servants of the Lord, too. If we practice sin we are slaves to sin, and if we are slaves to sin we are not truly free from sin. Therefore we are not slaves to righteousness and so our end is not heaven but it is hell unless we repent and we change course. But if we follow the Lord we will not walk (in practice) in sin. And if we abide in his word, then we are truly his disciples. Again this teaches progressive salvation not the one-time deal many are teaching today.
So, how you live matters for eternity. How you live matters in this life, too. Our salvation from sin is not just forgiveness of sins so we can go to heaven when we die. Our salvation is deliverance from our slavery to sin so that we can now walk in holiness and righteousness and in obedience to our Lord, and so we can live fruitful lives for the kingdom of heaven, and so we can make a difference in other people’s lives for eternity (same verses as noted above).
He Lifted Our Burdens
An Original Work / February 15, 2014
Based off Isaiah 9:2-7
People walk in darkness.
They abide in their sin.
It has power o’er them.
True belief escapes them.
Jesus Christ came to save them.
He gave His life up for them;
Crucified; died for our sin,
So we might be forgiven,
And have life up in heaven.
Many come to know Him.
God’s love now o’erflows them.
They rejoice in vict’ry.
Their sin is but hist’ry.
We were once bound in slav’ry.
Jesus lifted our burdens;
Set us now free from Satan,
So we now walk in freedom.
Sin has no more dominion.
Praise be to our Savior!
He showed us His favor.
He took all our burdens;
Cast them all upon Him.
He is our mediator;
The Light which shines in darkness.
Counselor in our troubles;
He gives peace now in our hearts;
Joy which is everlasting.