It's Standing between You and God

John D. Barry

Exodus 19–20; John 4:1–26; Song of Solomon 2:14–17

There is nothing more frustrating than being ordered around. Few people take to a drill sergeant. Although we like to cite the Ten Commandments (Exod 20) because they’re the norm, the rebellious part of our spirits has trouble with them. If we’re honest with ourselves and take them the way Jesus did (Matt 5–7), we’re confronted with the fact that we’ve all violated them at some point or another. (I don’t know anyone who has always honored their father and mother.)

If everyone lived by the Ten Commandments, the world would be a peaceful place. But again, we’re rebellious. The Ten Commandments reveal something about us: we’re weaker than we would like to believe. They also reveal something about our place before God: it’s not good—not without Jesus’ saving act that redeems us from our sins.

In John 4:1–26, we see Jesus confront a woman at a well who, like us, is a commandment-breaker. And because, as a Samaritan woman, she worships in a different place and in a different way than Jewish people, she is further frowned upon by the people around her. This makes Jesus’ remark to her all the more startling: “If you had known the gift of God and who it is who says to you, ‘Give me water to drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water” (John 4:10). Jesus tells her that He is what she is searching for—not rules or justification for her lifestyle as a commandment-breaker.

We commandment-breakers can live as legalists or attempt to justify our own decisions. Or we can do something entirely different and admit our need for the living water: Jesus. We can recognize that our religion or inability to keep commandments is not what matters most—what really matters is what God can do for us. We must acknowledge our weakness and need for Him. We must say, like the woman, “He [being Jesus] told me everything that I have done” (John 4:39).

How is religion, self-deprivation, or legalism standing between you and God?

This article was originally posted in Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan.


John D. Barry is the CEO and founder of Jesus’ Economy, a nonprofit dedicated to creating jobs and churches in the developing world. To empower the extreme poor, Jesus’ Economy also has an online fair trade shop. John is also the general editor of Faithlife Study Bible and the former editor-in-chief of Bible Study Magazine. Learn more about John’s work with Jesus’ Economy at www.jesuseconomy.org.