Walking in the Truth

Leslie Basham: How do you know whether you’re truly a child of God? Here’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: You can grow up in the Christian world, a Christian family, a Christian church, Christian school, Christian homeschool—without actually being a child of God! Your life reveals who your real Father is, because—spiritually speaking—you will bear a resemblance to your Father.

Leslie: Today Nancy will show us how to truly be God’s child. This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Lies Women Believe, for Friday, February 23, 2018.

Nancy: All this week we’ve been celebrating the birthday of the newly revised, updated, and expanded Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free. Women have been coming to me throughout the day as we’ve been recording here in Southwest Michigan (we recorded all five of these programs on one day in January).

They’ve been coming and saying, “I just did a study with women on this book, and here’s what God did . . .” or “I’ve just shared this with my newly-married daughter, and here’s what God is doing . . .” So I’ve been hearing stories and testimonies of how God has been using the original book, Lies Women Believe, which released seventeen years ago, to set women free.

It’s not because it’s a great book, but because it points to The Book—the truth in God’s Word, the truth of Christ—that sets women free!

And now we have an expanded version. About one-third of the content in this book is new, and a whole new chapter on sexuality, and the rest of the book has been heavily edited, trying to bring it up-to-date.

It’s been edited to share changes in culture from my perspective now as a married woman or as an older woman and some of it just growth in my own walk with the Lord that I wanted to apply. I’m thankful to have had the chance to do that with this new book.

So that’s available this week through our ministry. As you support this ministry, it enables us to keep this broadcast going, to share the message of freedom and fullness and fruitfulness in Christ with women around the world.

And so, if you want to support this ministry with a donation of any amount, when you call us or go online to ReviveOurHearts.com and make a donation, you can also request and we’ll be glad to send you a copy of the new Lies Women Believe for yourself. If you want to order additional copies you can go on ReviveOurHearts.com and those are available.

If you want to call us to make your donation, that number is 1–800–569–5959. Leslie will tell you about that again at the end of the program.

“The truth will set you free.” I came across this Latin phrase that means that very thing, in my research this week. The phrase is: veritas vos liberabit. I had to try several times to find out how to pronounce it, and I’m still not sure I’ve quite done it justice, because I don’t speak Latin.

This is the motto of many of our higher education institutions today, including Johns Hopkins University. That’s their motto: “The truth will set you free.” Carved in stone in the original headquarters building of the CIA—Central Intelligence Agency—is the whole phrase, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Now, it’s safe to assume that most people who see those inscriptions on the wall of a school building or on the wall of the original CIA headquarters building are not aware of the original source of that phrase, spoken by the One who claimed to be the truth—“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

So I want us, today, to turn to the gospel of John, chapter 8, and take a look at just a part of the context—what was going on, and what Jesus was saying by that phrase. This is something that a lot of our academic institutions used to understand when they were founded, that truth was what would set people free.

Now we’ve wandered from the truth, and we’re into all kinds of things—beliefs—that are not truth at all! But this is where a lot of our institutions—including the CIA—had their origins, their foundations. It was rooted in the truth.

Let’s look at John chapter 8, beginning in verse 31. I’m jumping into an extended conversation Jesus is having with various people and crowds, but for the interest of time, let me start in verse 31:  

Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples.

Now, these Jews had believed in Him. Were they His disciples or were they not? Were they truly His disciples? He said there’s an “if.” Well, these were Jews—as I understand it—who had acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God.

But Jesus is saying to them, “That’s just the first step in the process of becoming a true disciple, a true follower. The evidence that your faith is genuine will be seen if you habitually abide in my teaching. You’re not just going to hear someone say, ‘Oh, I believe that,’ and then you go on and live as if you don’t believe it.”

To those who said they had believed in Him, what He was saying was, in essence, “Prove it! Where’s the evidence? If you abide in My Word, then you are truly My disciples. The evidence is not just that you hear the truth or that you know the truth, but that you love it, you obey it, you practice it. You live in the truth, and you let it live in you.”

And as you do,

You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (v. 32).

So, “If you abide in My Word, you are truly My disciples. If you’re truly My disciples, you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

“As you abide in My Word”—as you live in it, as you soak in it, as you meditate on it, as you let it live in you—“you will come to know the truth”—the firm unchanging, objective reality of the doctrine of Christ.

And He says, “You will know the truth.” That’s that Greek word ginosko. It’s a word that doesn’t just talk about casual, intellectual head-knowledge. It’s a word that means to “perceive, to understand something or someone as the result of personal experience.”

You won’t just know about the truth, you will know . . . the . . . truth! You will know it from personal experience. This word “know”—used here—often implies an intimate relationship between the person who knows and the object or person who’s being known.

It’s talking about a relationship. “You will know the truth” not just in your head, but in a relationship with the truth. This is a knowledge of the truth that you can never have if you don’t first have a heart-commitment to Christ, and if the Holy Spirit doesn’t reveal the truth to you.

We can never know this with our finite minds. We won’t know the truth. We may seek and pursue—that’s what a lot of philosophers do, that’s what a lot of world religions do. They’re trying to get to the truth. But until God opens our hearts, gives us the gift of His Holy Spirit, and brings us to say, “Yes, Lord. Whatever You say I will believe, I will receive, I will base my life on it.” Then you will know the truth—KNOW the truth—and the truth will set you free.

“If you’re My true disciple—My true follower—you will know Me in a first-hand experiential way because I am the Truth, and that knowledge will be the key to your being set free.”

Now, as Jesus was talking to these who said they had believed Him—to as least some in that crowd—the implication was that, “You are not free right now. You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” The implication is, “You are not free. You’re in some sort of bondage or slavery. You need to be set free!”

Well, this resulted in some push-back from Jesus’ followers who were very religious people—religious Jews. They answered Him, verse 33,

We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, "You will become free"?

These were observant Jews; they were descendants of their father Abraham. They had the truth—the Scriptures—about the true God. So what did Jesus mean when He said to them, “The truth will set you free”?

Jesus clarified what kind of slavery He was talking about that they needed to be set free from. He said in verse 34,

Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin [who habitually sins, everyone who does this] is a slave to sin.

That’s the slavery He’s talking about, from which the truth will set them free.

This slavery to sin is a condition that every human being was born into, regardless of their religious heritage or roots. This is the ultimate slavery! And Jesus said everyone who habitually practices sin is a slave to sin. Sin is your master!

Anyone here who can relate to that? Have you known what it is to feel, The things I want to do, I can’t do, I don’t do. What’s wrong with me?!” What’s wrong with you is that we are born slaves to sin.,

So the question is, “How can we be set free?” Verse 35, John chapter 8:

The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son [capital S-o-n] sets you free, you will be free indeed (vv. 35–36).

Now Jesus said you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. Now He’s saying the Son will set you free. Which is it? Is it the truth that sets you free or the Son that sets you free? Yes! The Son is the truth! The Son will set you free; the truth will set you free. Jesus is the Son of God who came to set us free from the taskmaster of sin!

Now, in verses 37–43 (I won’t read all of that) Jesus explains to these Jews that being physical descendants of Abraham was meaningless if they didn’t have God as their Father. In fact, He says to them, “You are not true children of Abraham—or children of God” (see v. 37).

That had to be like a slap in the face to these people who prided themselves on being the children of God because they were the children of Abraham. He said, “You’re not the children of either one of them.”

In fact, He says to them, “If you were their true children [the true children of Abraham or the true children of God], you would be like you Father; you would demonstrate the kind of faith that Abraham had. If God were your Father, you would love Me, because I’ve come from God. Instead, you’re trying to kill me for telling you the truth about God! So I’ll tell you who your real father is.”

They’re all listening in: “Who’s our real father? It’s not Abraham, and it’s not God. Who is it?”

Jesus says, verse 44,  . . . now, this is a religious crowd. This isn’t a pagan crowd; remember this.

You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires.

Whoa! Don’t you imagine that set those religious Jews back on their heels? “Can you believe what He just said!?”

I mean, just imagine the murmuring, the pushing back, the disgust, the, “He said we’re not children of God, we’re not children of Abraham. He said we’re children of the devil!”

Jesus goes on,

He [your father, the devil] was a murderer from the beginning. . . [You’re trying to kill Me? He was a murderer.] [He] does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell [you] the truth, you do not believe me (v. 44).

He’s saying, “You believe the lies of the devil rather than believing the truth of God that I’m telling you.” 

Now, let me remind us: There is a real devil, and from the beginning of time, he has been intent on destroying the people that God made for Himself. He wants to keep you enslaved to sin, and he does this by means of lies—deception.

He lies to us about God. He lies to us about ourselves. He lies to us about our sin, about our relationships, about marriage, about family, about joy . . . about everything! And your heart inclination to believe lies or truth reveals whether you belong to the devil or to Christ.

If you belong to Christ, then the evidence is that your inclination is to believe that what God has said is true. If you don’t belong to Christ, if you’re still a son or daughter of the devil, the evidence is that you will take the devil’s word for it rather than God’s.

Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God (v. 47).

Could Jesus have been any plainer spoken? Can you imagine Jesus standing in one of our churches today and saying, “Whoever is of God hears, listens to, believes, receives, acts on the words of God. But the reason why you don’t listen to them, you don’t care, you don’t live them, you don’t practice them is that you are not of God! You’re not children of God.”

I think this could be said in many, if not most, of our churches today—not about everyone but about many who are religious, have been there all their born days but they don’t have life. They don’t have Christ. They don’t have the truth. They’re not of God.

You see, you can profess to believe in Jesus. You can even take the first steps toward believing in him, as it said at the beginning of this passage, without actually being His follower, His disciple, without being united with Him. Jesus said in verse 31, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples.”

The evidence of being His follower is that you abide in His Word, or as verse 47 says, you “hear the words of God,” and that hearing carries with it in the Scripture the concept of obeying. You don’t just hear it, you do it! You know the truth, you know Christ, and the truth sets you free. But if you don’t abide in His Word, you don’t know the truth, you’ll be a slave to sin.

You can grow up in the Christian world, a Christian family, a Christian church, Christian school, Christian homeschool, without actually being a child of God. Your life reveals who your real Father is, because, spiritually speaking, you will bear a resemblance to your Father.

Do you have a heart for truth? Do you love it? Does His Word abide in you? Or are you—from the core of your being—still a slave to sin? Now, once you’re a child of God, a follower of Christ, that doesn’t mean that you never sin or that you never feel the pull of sin, because that’s indwelling still. It takes time for us transfer our allegiance and our affections and our practice over to the truth.

But if you are a child of God, your bent, your inclination, your heart desire is not to keep walking in lies but to walk in truth. Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

At Revive Our Hearts we have what we call a Leader Connection, which is a blog for women’s ministry leaders. If you’re serving—whether paid or volunteer—in your church as a women’s ministry leader, go to our website if you’d like to receive that blog. It’s a great way of resourcing you practical ideas for ministry.

Our team there posted recently a blog, a post that says, “The truth sets us free from everything that is rooted in sin.” And then it had different sections on the different things that the truth sets us free from: from performance, from despair, from cultural expectations, from the need to control, from fear, from isolation, from confusion, from lies, and from self-sufficiency. The truth sets us free from all that and more!

Some of you have heard on this program my sweet friend Jennifer Smith who first came to know the truth that set her free while she was an inmate in McPherson Women’s Prison in Newport, Arkansas.

Now she’s out of prison; for a while she was a chaplain in that prison. Now she’s running a transition home called Cornerstone for women coming out of prison, helping them be prepared to walk in the freedom of Christ once they leave.

She wrote me recently, just a week or so ago, about the Lies Women Believe book, which has been a big part of her discipleship and now that she’s using in discipling others. She said,

This book has had a great impact on my life, inside of prison and now outside. It has been key in helping me identify the lies that held me captive for so many years! It has prepared me to handle conflict, difficult relationships, circumstances, failures, the unknown, suffering—and so much more!

It has helped me to identify God’s voice in a world full of noise! [I love that! The truth cuts through the noise.] Because of the freedom I have experienced through this message, I want to share it with others. Teaching from this book in the prison and at Cornerstone has been life-giving!

The joy I experience as I watch the chains fall from these women’s lives is like no other!—to see the understanding sweep over them as they realize for the first time that they are free from the lies that once held them captive and to watch them begin to make decisions based on truth!

People are in bondage to many kinds of sin because somewhere they have believed a lie and have lived out that lie. Lies Women Believe gives them the key to their prison cell. Jesus is the truth who enables them to walk out of prison and into freedom!

Now, let me just remind you that walking in the truth—learning to walk in the truth—is a journey. It’s a process; it doesn’t happen overnight. If we’re children of God, if we’re followers of Christ, we’re all in the journey, that process, together.

You may be at a little different place in your journey than I am, and you may be in a little different place than she is, but it doesn’t happen overnight. There are just a few things I want to encourage you to do as you seek to walk in the truth—so you can experience the freedom that Jesus promised to those who know the truth.

First of all, be alert! Don’t be mindless. Evaluate what you read, what you see, what you hear from others, from magazines, from movies, from music. I hear kids say, “I just like the music.” They’re not thinking about what it’s saying.

And it’s not just kids. Listen, there are a lot of adults who know every single word to many top hit songs for generations past, but they’ve never stopped to think about what those songs say. Some of them may be great truth. Some of them are not truth at all!

You say, “Aww, it doesn’t make any difference. I just like the music.” Listen, what you put in . . . “garbage in, garbage out.” So be alert. Don’t be mindless. And as you read things, as you see things, such as articles in magazines on the stand at the supermarket, on TV and movies, things you hear from your friends, be asking yourself all the time, “What’s the message here? Is it true? Is it consistent with a biblical perspective or worldview?”

There is no such thing as a harmless lie! Because as you think in your heart, so you will be (see Prov. 4:23; 23:7). So be alert. That’s one of my goals in writing this book, Lies Women Believe, so that we could start thinking.

I’ve had so many women say to me, “When I read the Table of Contents—all those lies you listed—I’ve thought, I don’t believe those lies.” And then so many have come back and said, “Wow! I didn’t realize how many of those lies I believed!” So, be alert; don’t be mindless.

And then, daily renew your mind with the Word. You cannot know the truth if you’re not in this Book. Become saturated with the truth. Become a student of truth—soak in it, become super-familiar with it. Love wisdom, love the truth, seek it earnestly. Seek Christ earnestly, daily renewing your mind with the truth.

And then, consistently counsel your heart according to the truth. A lady wrote and said, “A Bible study I attend recently completed Lies Women Believe. It revealed lies I had been believing.” So what’s she going to do now? She’s going to learn to counsel her heart according to the truth. How did she do that? She said,

I’ve now memorized the twenty-some truths listed in the last chapter. Every time I’m attacked by Satan’s lies, I have a truth and Scripture to help me. The truths I rely on the most are: "God is enough," "God can be trusted," and "The pathway to true joy is to relinquish control."

If you have that book, Lies Women Believe, I hope you’ll go to the last chapter—or we have a bookmark that has just a short version of these twenty-one lies. I want to encourage you to keep a piece of paper, or the PDF you can get off our website, or this bookmark of these lies and periodically just read these aloud to yourself.

Counsel your heart according to truth:

  • God is good.
  • God loves me and wants me to have His best.
  • I am complete and accepted in Christ.
  • God is enough.
  • God can be trusted.
  • God doesn’t make any mistakes.
  • God’s grace is sufficient for me.
  • The blood of Christ is sufficient to cover all my sin.
  • The cross of Christ is sufficient to conquer my sinful flesh.
  • My past does not have to plague me.
  • And on and on . . .

Listen, if you’re dealing with a past that plagues you . . . There’s Scriptures to go with all of these. You memorize that truth. You get into God’s Word and get to know that Scripture. Then you can remind yourself, when Satan comes pummeling you with those lies, “My past does not have to plague me.”

What does Paul say in 1 Corinthians 6:11?

And such were some of you. [You used to be this way, but you’re not that way anymore!] You’ve been washed, regenerated, justified, cleansed by the blood of Christ (paraphrased).

Begin to counsel your heart according to God’s Word. And as you do, the truth will change you. It will transform you from the inside out. It may not change your circumstances, but it will change you, and it will set you free! Amen? Amen!

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth will be right back to pray. She’s been reminding us of the importance of building our lives on the truth. Nancy will help you focus your mind on the truth in the just re-released book Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free.

Nancy took this classic book and revised it based on what women are facing here in 2018. About 30 percent of the book is new or revised. We’d like to send you a copy as our thank you when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount.

Ask for Lies Women Believe when you call and give your gift. The number is 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

When Margaret Nyman’s husband passed away from cancer, she was suddenly left alone with a lot of emotions and practical needs. She’ll join us, starting Monday, to share her experience and perspective on how to trust the Lord in the season of widowhood. Please join us for Revive Our Hearts. Now, Nancy’s back to pray.

Nancy: Oh Father, even as I think about these truths (and others that we didn’t name here just now), they’re so precious. They’re so powerful. They’re so rich. They’re so life-giving. It’s so good to speak truth to our own hearts—especially when we waver, when we’re fearful or anxious, or we’re believing things that aren’t true. Help us to cherish these beautiful truths about You and Your ways.

I pray that You would take this new updated version of Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free and that You would take it and wing it into the hearts and homes of women in this country and around the world.

And, Lord, it’s not the book I’ve written that will do this, but as they see Your Word highlighted there, as they see Your ways exalted, may women everywhere experience the truth that sets them free.

May the words of Jesus to that Jewish audience thousands years ago speak to our own hearts today: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31). We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is all about helping women know the truth that sets them free. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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