Now Jesus starts to speak to the ones who believed in him. They needed so much understanding. “The key to discipleship is knowing the truth and living your life by the truth of God. Know the truth, commit to the truth, and put the truth into every part of your life. And that’s what will set you free from your bondage to sin. A train is free as long as it stays on the track. True, a train that jumps the tracks is free in another sense, but no longer free to do what it was designed to do. Commit to me, the truth, and live in me, and you will find yourself beautifully free.”
The people didn’t get it. “We’ve never been anyone’s slave. We are freemen! What are you talking about?”
Jesus kept trying: “You were all born in sin, and if you’ve ever sinned, that proves what I’m saying. You all know about slaves and freemen. A slave isn’t part of the family, really, but a son is always a part of the family. If you’re a good religious Jew, you may be part of Abraham’s family, but you need to become part of God’s family. That’s how you get set free from sin I’m telling you the truth, straight from God the Father.”
The people didn’t get it. “Abraham is our father,” they said, “and that makes us God’s children too. It’s automatic.”
“But that’s what I’m telling you,” said Jesus. “It’s not automatic. Just because you are a son of Abraham doesn’t mean you are a child of God. Just because you are religious doesn’t mean you’re a child of God. If you were truly God’s children, you would know the truth, commit to the truth, and put the truth into every part of your life. And you would recognize who I am and commit your life to me, knowing that God sent me.” Do you get it? The identity of a person as a child of God is radically dependent on their belief in Jesus and a life commitment to following Him.
Jesus continued, “I know this is hard for you to understand, but there are only two choices here: life and death. If you are not following me on the path of truth and life, you are on the path of the deceiver, your father is Satan himself, and you are on the path to destruction.” These are shocking things for Jesus to say, but the way to get someone to change their mindset and lifestyle is often to confront them with a harsh truth.
Jesus continued: “I’m telling you the truth. Can anyone point to a single lie that I’ve ever told?” No one could. “Then why don’t you believe me?” Jesus asked. “If you really belonged to God, you would understand what I’m saying.”