I was asked a question today that prompted my devotional thought. The question was “How do we allow the Holy Spirit to transform us by the Word of God?”
My immediate though was to a particular passage of Scripture and the words of Jesus. These words of Jesus are NOT hard to understand but that doesn’t mean that they are easy to do, But it isn’t complicated.
In John 8:31 and 32 Jesus says “to the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'”
So how do we allow transformation to happen? Remember Romans 12:1 says “do not be conformed to the pattern of the world but be transformed” … So how do we allow that to happen?
1. Believe In Him
Jesus didn’t tell unbelievers that his Word would change them, though the principles of truthy are good for all. Yes I’ve often told people that even lost people would benefit from living by the principles of the Word of God, but that’s not what it’s saying here. This promise was given to people who had already heard and believed in Jesus. Those who had “believed” (pisteuo = think to be true, have Christian faith, entrust) – and is in the perfect active tense. So these are people who are actively believing in Jesus Christ. Transformation cannot happen if we are not IN Christ. We become IN him as we act in Faith to receive the Grace of Jesus Christ.
So then Jesus says “If you hold to my teaching”
2. Hold To / Continue In His Teaching
“hold to” – meno = stay, wait for continue to exist, keep on“teaching” – logos = statement; speech; gospel
Jesus is saying, “keep on, stay in, what I have actually said, the essence of who I am” –
It doesn’t say, “if you believe the Word, or Understand it, or even want it.” This is a conditional declaration that: as one who believes in, confesses, has entrusted your life to Jesus Christ, if you will stay, wait for, keep on, continue in, his teaching, actual instruction that comes from the essence of who He is, THEN ….
It doesn’t ask us to lie it, fine it easy, normal, believe that it works, it just says, “do it” … Nike didn’t invent the concept of “just do it.” and so IF … Then
3. You Are Really My Disciples
“disciples” – mathetes = follower; pupil “really” – alethos = truly
Reality is that we can call ourselves whatever we want. We can live in a garage and call ourselves cars, but we aren’t REALLY cars. We can call ourselves disciples but if we don’t walk in his Words and Ways … we aren’t really his disciples, followers, pupils. We can call ourselves servants but if we don’t serve … we aren’t servants. We can call him our “lord” but if we don’t obey him …
Our lives are often full of excuses and contingencies. Often I counsel people and bring them a word of life from the Word of God, yet their response is “that’s right, makes a lot of sense, but … well … you see … I …” or they say “yes I know I shouldn’t do ‘x’ but … well … it’s just that …”
So the question is … will we DO what he says? Will we continue in his ways? His ways are life, hope, and peace. In the preceding verses of our text, John 8:28-30, Jesus says “‘… I do nothing on my own, but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.’ Even has he spoke, many put their faith in him.”
It was the fact that Jesus says and does the will of God that we trusted him in the first place. But transformation is stunted in our lives because we stop short of following him. Perhaps we never truly believed, but at the very least we are failing to trust and do.
But as a believer in this Jesus, who does the will of the Father, we know his Word, and actually do it as “imitators of Jesus” (Eph 5:1) – Continuing when it is hard to do, or hard to understand, then we PROVE we are disciples in actuality not just converts in our hearts.
A convert in heart should be a convert in deed
James 1:22-25 “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does.”
So, how does transformation happen? There it is …
- “Look intently into the word” – parakypto = bend over, desire to learn
- “continue to do this” – parameno – same root word that Jesus used to tell us to do and keep on doing to stay and keep on staying
- “not forgetting” – this combines the word for forgetfulness with the word for to become – transformation will not come when we hear the word but become something else because we forget what was said
- “but doing” – poietes = doer, poet – We hear the word, but move on to something else, we have the words but won’t allow them to form together in beautiful poetry of obedient and application
- Then you will be blessed – markarios = happy
4. You will know the Truth
“figuring it out” often doesn’t come until we DO it.
I was coaching my oldest son in 1st grade soccer. One day I brought a piece of 12 foot long pvc pipe to practice and made them run drills holding the pipe. They didn’t know why but I said “just do it, and trust me”. Come the next game, the biggest issue with 1st grade soccer is that they all clump together in a big circle around the ball and just kick it. I wanted to spread them out. the first time the kids clumped around the ball, I hollared “pipe, remember the pipe”. The boys looked at each other and spread out 12 feet apart. While the other team clumped around the ball, my boys were spread out, one kick to get the ball free and we were running away. It didn’t make sense at first, but in the doing, we became a different team.
As we DO what our teacher, example, Lord, and Christ does, we find, TRUTH in experience. Jesus said you will “know”, that’s the word ginosko = to know by experience.
5. The Truth Will Make You Free
The Truth, reality, has a natural result of freedom, liberation. Romans 8:2 says “through Christ Jesus, the Law of the Spirit of Life set me free (same word) from the law of sin and death.”
The only way to be set free from the trap you are in, doing what you are doing, following old patterns, is to STOP IT, and do something else, DO what Jesus is teaching in his word, follow his example, be an actual disciple, a pupil of Jesus.
And then, in the action that follows faith, we look up and the chains are gone, we are set free from the old bondage, transformation has taken place in the light of truth and reality in action.