The Truth That Sets Us Free

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.” (John 8:31-32).    
Freedom is a paradox. Jesus teaches us that only by being in a right relationship with him can we have freedom. This flies in the face of all common sense ideas about freedom. We think that freedom means being able to do whatever we want. That idea of freedom is an illusion. It is slavery waiting to happen.   The reason the common sense idea about freedom is false is that real freedom is essentially spiritual in nature. God created man to be like himself and for himself. This means that we are essentially spiritual. We are worshippers by nature. And if we don’t worship the living God who alone is worthy, we will worship some false god by default. Since Jesus Christ alone can bring us into a right relationship with the Father, knowing him and holding his teaching are indispensable for real freedom. Whether we are free or not depends upon the character of the one we worship.

The real God is holy, loving and completely good and he is glad to bestow every blessing upon his children. He gives freedom as one of his blessings. He alone is able to set our hearts right and cause us to delight in Himself first and foremost, and in everything that is good. He is able to reveal himself to us in such a way that we are forever transformed for the better. In right relationship with him, by nature we love God and our neighbor and it is a joy not merely a duty to do so. In Him we are genuinely free from the powers of darkness and free to make our own creative choices among many good alternatives.

In sharp contrast, before we know God, we are slaves to worthless idols. Behind every worthless idol is Satan, who according to the Bible, is a tyrant as well as a liar, murderer and thief. If we don’t know God, we will find some sort of worthless god. People in the industrial world may not worship little statues any more, but some unworthy thing such as power, money, pleasure, counterfeit anti-Christ religion or our own glory will end up being our ultimate motive, our reason for being. When this happens, we are no more than slaves. That’s why Jesus said “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin” (John 8:34).

The man or woman who doesn’t know God is like someone who can chose between ten different brands of whisky to get drunk. Choosing among varieties of slavery is not freedom, and that is the spiritual position of the one who has not accepted Christ. The train that is on the track can go anywhere in the country but the one spinning its wheels in the mud is going nowhere. Jesus Christ did not come into the world to condemn the world. On the contrary, he came to set us free:

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— 
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

They will be called oaks of righteousness, 
a planting of the LORD 
for the display of his splendor. (Isaiah 61:1-3).

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