Want Spiritual Liberty? Make Room for God’s Word through Silence & Solitude | John 8:31-37

by | Solitude, Spiritual Formation, Wilderness Bible Studies

Could it be that you are missing the power of Jesus in your life because you are not making room for his Word?

There is an account in the New Testament where Jesus plainly confronts the most devout, religious people of his day with this very question. Like many people today who think they are “free” because they have a full schedule, lots of relationships, and even a successful-looking life, the people Jesus spoke to in John 8 could have said the same things. Yet Jesus loves people too much to agree with them if they are missing the feast.

Solitude by a lake


In this post I want to remind you that creating a regular rhythm of silence and solitude will protect your spiritual liberty and guard you from the slavery of being deaf to your Heavenly Father’s voice.

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You and I need to take the time un-tether ourselves from our “full” lives for an hour or more and intentionally carve out room for God’s Word. As we unplug our ears we may not hear our Father affirming everything we give ourselves to… in fact we may actually hear the Shepherd’s voice nudging us away from various forms of slavery that hold our minds and souls in bondage.

So try to slow down for a minute before you read the next few verses of Scripture. Don’t read them as familiar, old hat, but read them with total openness, that in these Words, Jesus has something for your soul today too:

 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.”

They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word.  -John 8:31-37

In this account, there were many people who were starting to warm up to Jesus. They liked him, they were drawn to his authoritative teaching. They were mesmerized by this man who did not just have big talk, but had power to back it up. He was healing multitudes from chronic pain, he was sending evil spirits packing that had enslaved people with illness or rage. Yet Jesus knew their hearts were not committed yet. So he pushed them. Hard. If you read the whole account (John 8:31-47) he actually tells them that they are not faithful to God at all, but that unbeknownst to them, they are devoted to the Father of Lies, the Devil. This really made them mad. Wouldn’t it make you mad if you found out you were being bamboozled into carrying out the Devil’s destructive agenda? It would me too!

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He preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and loosen. –Mark 1:7

What good does it do to get mad with a doctor who comes to you with some bad news? Does it heal the ailment to disagree with him or tell him he is wrong? Of course not. It would serve us better just to humble ourselves, listen to the doctor, and say, “Okay, do what you need to do.” In the same way, Jesus knows our soul. He knew the problem in this crowd was that they had no room for his Word. They thought they knew it all, but in fact they were just completely blowing smoke. They were believing lies. And they were enslaved by them. Spiritual liberty was beyond reach as long as there was no room for his Word in their hearts.

So Jesus called their bluff. And he calls our bluff too. He wants us to be completely free. He wants liberty for our soul, and he came to die to give us that very gift. (John 3:16-17)

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Jesus at the end of this account says to the crowd a chilling statement, “The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”(John 8:47) This may seem harsh, but again, Jesus’ love is a consuming fire. He says the truth so that by the truth we will be set free. (John 8:32) We live in a whirlwind of lies every day. But if you have put your faith in Jesus Christ, then you have a Father who speaks life and liberty to you every day.

The problem I find in the spiritual life is not that freedom, joy, and peace are allusive, but that I am stubborn.

I do not always make room for God’s Word each day. And I suffer greatly for it, and so do my relationships. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Create a rhythm of regular silence and solitude daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, and you will experience more freedom and less slavery to lies. As I look at the way God led people out into his creation, the wilderness, to remove distractions and create space for them to know him more purely, I encourage us to do the same.

One of the best ways you can create room for God’s Word is to get out into the grandeur of God’s creation. Surrounded by such vast open spaces, I find that God uses that to pry open my “full” heart that is bloated with lies. Then he gracefully creates a crack in my soul to relieve the pressure I feel from grazing on lies. Pouring in truth like a Peptobismol he brings my soul back into equilibrium. Ahh.. the joy of spiritual liberty!

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  • Take an hour this week to go somewhere that you can be completely alone & silent with God. Read a Psalm or a Gospel passage slowly with an undistracted openness to his Word. Journal what you hear God speaking to you through his Word.
  • Talk to a friend whose spiritual life you respect about how they make room for God’s word in their life each day.

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