If you are one of the many men and women who are participating in the international, interdenominational Bible study BSF (Bible Study Fellowship), the title of this post probably sounds familiar. This past week we studied the third chapter of John. In this chapter, we read about Nicodemus’ nighttime conversation with Jesus. Then, about John the Baptist’s embrace of the role God gave him. John 3 is packed with such rich truth about the problem man faces and Jesus’ loving solution— in other words, the condemnation of sinful man and salvation through Jesus.
After giving an account of Nicodemus’ interaction with Jesus, which ends with Jesus telling Nicodemus that He will provide salvation from sins and eternal life, the Apostle John further explains:
For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. (John 3:17-21, emphasis added)
When we put our trust in Jesus, we are not condemned! We have eternal life! Such comfort and true freedom from fear can be found in these truths.
And, yet— I live in fear of man. In fear that man will not think I am behaving properly— in fear that man will not love me. (Kind of like Nicodemus, who waited until the cover of night to seek Jesus…Jesus was so gracious to him, and to us!)
The above passage should transform my thinking:
We see clearly that GOD has the power to condemn or acquit.
We see that mankind’s tendency post-fall is to LOVE THE DARKNESS.
Recently I was in a conversation with someone and began to feel guilty about doing something the Lord clearly commands us to do. I felt that I needed to start covering it up…I became so afraid that this person would think poorly of me and of my husband.
This fear and shame is such a deception of the Devil.
But, it’s more than that— the fear and shame is also a symptom of not resting fully in the salvation and authority of Christ…of allowing the opinion of man to have sway over me in areas where only Christ should.
In studying John 3 this week, I was both convicted and comforted. In the BSF notes for this chapter, a question is posed in relation to John the Baptist’s actions: “Do I lead people to love me or to love Jesus?” My undue fear and shame are evidence that I am more concerned about people loving me than loving Jesus.
If we take my actions as an example of what not to do, we can take John the Baptist’s actions as an example of what to do.
If you know the story of John the Baptist, you know we have many examples of John not being swayed by man. Ultimately, John would be beheaded— talk about not being a people pleaser.
When Jesus started baptizing, this meant that fewer people went to John the Baptist to be baptized— if he were concerned with people loving him more than he was concerned with people loving Jesus, he would have been upset by this. And, his disciples were. John explained to them once again that Jesus was the Messiah, not him. John was simply an attendant, meant to help bring the bride to the Bridegroom (Jesus). Now that the Bridegroom had arrived John said his joy was complete and told his disciples “He [Jesus] must become greater and I must become less.”
As Jesus becomes greater and we become less—as we focus on leading people to love Jesus rather than ourselves—our fear of man will diminish and we can live freely in the JOY of salvation.
Sure, men could behead John, but they couldn’t kill his soul.
Sure, we can be judged “guilty” by men, but they cannot condemn our souls.
Remember, Jesus was judged “guilty” by men. Judged a blasphemer. Yet, through him all LIFE and SALVATION has been granted us!
May we boldly and joyfully walk into the light out of love for the Lord and pray that others will as well:
“Whoever loves the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God” (John 3:21).