“So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, ‘If
you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will
know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’ They answered Him, ‘We are
Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it
that You say, “You will become free”?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I
say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not
remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes
you free, you will be free indeed.’” John 8:31-36
We hear lots of talk about freedom this time of year. And
this passage of scripture is always a great favorite, and at least a small part
of it seems to be known even by those who don’t claim Christianity—these
wondrous words: “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
That phrase has been co-opted by atheist authors who use it mockingly as they
denigrate Christianity in their writing, bloggers wishing to promote certain
political agendas, and people airing their own secrets or telling those that
belong to others, with a certain inference that the sheer exposure of facts has
some sort of magical power.
Spoken from the mouth of Jesus, though, and looked at in
their original context, we can see that this promise has nothing to do with any
of those things. Obviously, it belongs to us. We, the purchased ones, we are
the ones He has made this promise to.
I wonder, then, why is it that we see so little freedom
amongst the body of Christ?
Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that we only remember part
of the story, ourselves. We forget the part of the sentence that comes before the
promise: “If you continue in My word, then you are disciples of mine.” What
does it mean?
The word continue
here means to remain or abide; to not depart from something (His Word.) Jesus
is telling His disciples that if they remain in the words He’s spoken to them;
if they abide in His teachings; if they don’t depart from the life He’s shown
them, then they are truly His
disciples. And it’s then that they
will know the truth, and the truth will set them free! To know here means to perceive, to come to understand, to become
acquainted with the truth. And that truth? It’s God’s reality; His moral
excellence brought to bear on any situation we face. When we spend time in
God’s Word, listening for His voice, determining not to depart from it, we are
His disciples and we come to know His truth, and that knowledge will set us
So how do we make sure we live in freedom? We give God’s
Word a chance to live in us and change us by spending time reading it. We pick
it up with a determination in our hearts to believe and obey what we find
there, regardless of the personal cost or any perceived difficulty it brings to
our lives. We ask the Lord to illuminate it to us; to help us understand it; to
see what He’s trying to say to us personally as we read. We expect to hear His
voice and we wait for it.
In the rush of daily life, are we forgetting to dwell in His
Word? Is it getting crowded out by the siren of social media, the roar of
popular entertainment, the tyranny of the urgent? Are we making room for the
truth of God to permeate our hearts, retrain our emotions and shape our minds?
Christ longs to give us true freedom. He died to make that
freedom possible. Because when we walk in it, we glorify the Father as we enjoy
peace and joy and fellowship with Him. Make room in your life for His Word, trusting
that every time you open it, He is ready and willing to meet you there and
speak to your heart. May we all embrace His truth, and let it set us free.