In John 8:31–32 Jesus makes this promise, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Now that’s a feel-good verse if ever I heard one! Freedom is appealing to everyone, and the idea that we can be free simply by knowing the truth sounds simple enough.
But what is Jesus really talking about here? What is it exactly that God’s truth can give us freedom from?
I believe the answer is two-fold.
The first thing truth has the power to free us from is our own sin. As Christians, it is so easy for us to forget how desperately we once needed freedom in this area. It can be even tougher to see our need for freedom if we’ve not yet accepted God’s free gift of grace. This was the case for the people Jesus was teaching in this passage.
In John 8:33 we see their reaction to His promise of freedom. “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?'”
They were clueless. They thought Jesus was teaching about physical slavery. They didn’t even recognize the chains their own sin had placed on them. Reminds me of, well, me.
“Jesus replied, ‘I tell you the truth, 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'” (John 8:34–36).
Bingo. Jesus teaches that everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Sin binds us. It snatches away our freedom. As sinners we don’t belong in the family of God (v. 35).
I forget that, don’t you? I forget that sin is a deadly trap. I forget that until I accepted Jesus, I was enslaved to sin. I was chained to it and couldn’t break free. I am so thankful to be reminded that His truth has set me free (v. 32) and that if Jesus has freed me, I am free indeed (v. 36).
Do you need to be reminded of your freedom? Are you living like a slave, tied to old habits, old sins, and old ways of thinking when Jesus has purchased your freedom?
Maybe you are still chained. Maybe you don’t yet know Jesus as your Savior. Maybe you are like the Jews Jesus was talking to in this passage—you can’t even see that sin has you in a death grip. If that is the case, sweet girl, let me urge you to believe what God says about sin.
“Jesus replied, ‘I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin‘” (v. 34).
Sin is a deadly trap. It will enslave you. It will rob you of your freedom. But Jesus has already paid the way for you to be free. The freedom He can give you is unlike anything else you can find in the world.
Becoming a Christian doesn’t mean the end to sin in our lives. It means an end to the slavery to sin. We have the ability to overcome sin through the blood of Jesus Christ. We can’t overcome it without Him.
I told you that God’s truth has the power to offer us freedom from two things. The first is sin. If you need freedom in that area, we’d love to help you with that here on the blog. But I believe this passage is also referring to freedom from bondage. Even those of us who know Christ as our Savior can find ourselves in bondage. Be sure to check back on the blog tomorrow, as we look at this possibility more in-depth.