Sometimes, living in the land where tolerance is deemed the greatest virtue— sometimes we as Christians fail to realize just how lost our lost friends and family truly are. Often we consider them “good” people that would be better still if they would just add our Jesus to their own intrinsic, innate goodness.
“Frank is such a good person. Just think how much better he’ll be when he gives his life to Jesus.” Or, “My boy is a good boy. I know he gets into trouble a bit, but he’s got a good heart.” Or, “I feel pretty good about myself. Why do I need Jesus to make me better? I’m doing OK just as I am.”
When we try to tell them about Jesus we go to great lengths to skirt the offensive issue of their sin and instead play up their value and virtue and inherent righteousness and then try to sell them on Jesus “who will take what is good in them and make it even better.”— like pitching a new and improved model of themselves. “Step right up and come to Jesus. He will take the parts of you that you don’t like and change them right before your very eyes. He’s the Master Fixer-Upper. Just what the doctor ordered. So who needs Jesus to bless your life? Come on, step right up. Who wants to be first?”
But none of this is true, Biblically. It may be the way we do things in our culture and the way we try to live out the great commission without being offensive or intolerant, but none of it is true. Jesus never promised to make our life better on this earth. Never. He never promised to make us better. He promised to make us new. The old man is not improved, he dies. And in the old man’s place a new man is born again, created in the image of Christ, for the glory of the Father (2 Cor. 5:17).
Everything changes. Including you and me.
God doesn’t take our old heart and make it better. He makes it new. Why? Because there’s nothing of value in our old heart to update or improve. Jeremiah 17:9 states: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” Get that? Deceitful and desperately wicked above all things. Not much good to salvage here.
The Plague of Spiritual Ignorance and Self-Deception
But our lost friends are deceived in thinking their sin is not bad enough to merit judgment or Hell. They’re duped into thinking they don’t need to change. After all, they do plenty of good things they feel good about and the good things they do outweigh the bad things and they net, at least in their own eyes, on the good side. Hence, bottom line in their thinking, they’re OK with the Big Man in the Sky, just like they are.
This is exactly the crowd Jesus was speaking to in John 8:33. Jesus had repeatedly told the unbelieving Jews they were separated from the Father (John 8:19) and lost in their sins (John 8:24) and by believing in Him, and in Him alone, they would “know the truth, and the truth would make them free” (John 8:32). But lost people chaff at the thought they’re in bondage. They reject it because it assaults their self-image and inward sense of self-righteousness. They hold fast to the lie, their false sense of security, that something in their past, something they have done or accomplished, something they are or will become will be sufficient to satisfy God on the day of judgment. And for the Jews, that something was being a physical descendant of Abraham.
They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?” (John 8:33). In essence, they didn’t need what Jesus was offering because they, in their own minds, already possessed it. The major obstacle to discovering the life and truth Jesus offers is thinking you already possess it. And, as we and Jesus both know, they didn’t possess the “truth that will set them free” (John 8:32, 36). Do you?
So. just how lost is a lost person? How ignorant are they of their spiritual condition?
AW Pink says: Tell the sinner that there is no good thing in him, and he will not believe you; but tell him that he is completely the slave of sin and the captive of Satan, that he cannot think a godly thought of himself (2 Cor. 3:5), that he cannot receive God’s truth (1 Cor. 2:14), that he cannot believe (John 12:39), that he cannot please God (Rom. 8:8), that he cannot come to Christ (John 6:44), and he will indignantly deny your assertions. So it was here in the passage before us. When Christ said “the truth shall make you free”, the Jews replied “We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to anyone.”
Today spiritual ignorance focuses on our desire to make Jesus into anything we want and to create our own religion and our own system of righteousness. If it goes contrary to the Scriptures, then we either ignore the Scriptures, or try to explain them away by some sort of theological sleight of hand, or conclude the Scriptures are “living and breathing” and therefore do not apply to us on this point. Whatever the reason, the outcome is that we are right and God is wrong. After all, “we have never been in bondage to anyone!” (John 8:33).
How Lost is My Lost Loved One?
When you share your faith with a lost loved one remember just how lost, Scripturally, they truly are— regardless of how much you love them or how many charitable deeds they have racked up in their own ledger books.
Consider the pitiful state of those we are sent to love in Christ:
One, your lost family member or friend is, according the Bible, a fallen creature, totally depraved, with no soundness or goodness in him from the sole of his foot even unto the top of his head (Isa. 1:6)— regardless of how he views himself or how much self-esteem he has.
Two, your lost son or daughter is completely under the dominion of sin, they’re a “slave to sin” (John 8:34), a slave to “various lusts and pleasures” (Titus 3:3), so much so they “cannot cease from sin” (2 Pet. 2:14) no matter how hard they try. Only the cross of Christ can free them from the bondage of sin (Rom. 6:18,22). You must tell them about Christ. And you must tell them today.
Three, your lost husband or wife has “been taken captive by the devil, by Satan, to do his will” (2 Tim. 2:26). They now walk “according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2). They now live to fulfills the lusts of their father, the devil, Satan, even though they vehemently reject that claim (John 8:44). They are completely dominated by Satan’s power, the “power of darkness “(Col. 1:13).
And nothing can deliver them but the power of Christ.
Our mission field, our own families, are self-deceived into thinking, like the Jews in Jesus’ day, that they need nothing. That they possess all. They are ignorant of their spiritual condition and it’s up to you and me individually, and the church collectively, powered by the Holy Spirit, to make disciples of those He has placed in our paths (Matt. 28:19).
Are you up for the challenge? Are you prepared for rejection and persecution? Are you ready to be counted worthy of suffering for our Lord (Acts 5:41)? And are you ready to fulfill the very reason God chose you from the foundation of the world to be made in the likeness of His Son (Eph. 1:4; Rom. 8:29)?
They let’s get busy being who we were created to be.
Come Lord Jesus.