John 8:31-33, 59 - 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." They answered Him, "We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that You say, 'You will become free'?" ... So they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.
John 8 bothers me. In verse 31, it calls Jesus' audience "the Jews who had believed Him." But less than 30 verses later, these same people are picking up stones to kill Him. How can you believe Jesus and then turn around and try to kill Him half an hour later?
It looks like there are two kinds of belief—and only one of them touches the heart. We all know people who say they are Christians—who can even recite the Creed for you if you ask them to—and yet, when it comes to their behavior, you'd never recognize them as people who belong to Jesus. They gossip; they say spiteful things about other people; they break promises; they put money and power first in their lives—they do an excellent job of blending in with the rest of the world. Are they Christians? On paper, maybe.
I'm not saying that they know they are hypocrites. In fact, I'm worried because I think these people mostly don't notice the difference between what they say they believe and what they actually do. I think they really, truly think they are believers in Jesus. Somehow they manage to overlook the huge disconnect between the faith they claim and the life they live.
And of course, it worries me most of all that I might be one of them.
How can we guard against this sort of thing? How can we make absolutely sure that John 8 isn't a picture of us, at some level?
I don't think we can. But the Holy Spirit can. And that's why every day we ask the Lord to be with us—to protect us from the power of the devil and all his deceptions.
Jesus is totally familiar with this problem. After all, He faced off with the devil's temptations throughout His life. Even on the cross, He had to deal with the temptation to do a self-serving miracle—to come down off the cross—and justify it by saying, "Then they will believe in Me. I'm doing God's work!" No, the same Lord who saw through that deception and stood firm will also hold us firmly in the true faith forever. He who rose from the dead will bring us safely to Himself, not by our work, but by His.
We believe in Jesus—not by our own power or wisdom, but because God has given us such a great gift. And now we lay our hearts in Jesus' hands, saying, "Lord, keep me safe, just as You kept Your disciples. Let me be Yours forever, just as You planned." He can do it, and He will do it—because He loves us.
WE PRAY: Dear Savior, hold on to me and keep me in Your true faith. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
1. Do you ever worry about this problem? Why or why not?
2. What do you do when you hear friends or neighbors complaining about the hypocritical Christians they know?
3. How do you find peace in Jesus when you are worried?
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