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. It’s important to people in our culture. There have been dozens of movies about it, hundreds of songs about it (most of them country songs), and more speeches about it than anyone can count. But do you ever wonder if despite all this, people in our culture don’t really understand what freedom actually is? Is the ability to say what we want and do what we want, whatever we want whenever we want, really freedom?
Well, to most people it probably would sound like it. After all, if saying and do what we want isn’t freedom, then what is? But God in his Word begs to differ. He tells us that our hearts are deceitful and cannot be trusted, that our desires are the root of sin, and that when we do what our sinful hearts want, we make ourselves slaves to sin.
Slaves. There’s no freedom there. Being free to do and say whatever we want is not freedom at all; it’s just another form of slavery.
Jesus offers us true freedom. True freedom is knowing that the failures that haunt us ultimately have no hold over us. True freedom is knowing that the pain we feel in this life will one day be gone and forgotten. True freedom is having the ability to discern the difference between that which we want and is good for us, and that which we want and is bad for us. True freedom is having the strength to not follow desires that would be harmful to us and others. The truth Jesus gives us in his Word tells us how he has taken away our sin, tells us of the heaven that awaits us, tells us how we were meant to live, and gives us the power to live according to his will.
I knew someone once who was caught in possession of child pornography. He was arrested, and his access to the internet was taken away. Now, to the world’s definition of freedom, this man was no longer free. He could no longer do what he wanted, go where he wanted, look at what he wanted. But his assessment of the situation? “For the first time in a very long time, I finally feel free.” See, his sin had caught up with him, but he had faith in the one who truly makes him free. He saw his earthly consequences as an act of God’s grace, reclaiming him from slavery to his sin and returning him to the loving arms of his Father.
Jesus offers you the same freedom. He offers it every time he leads you to his Word. He offers it every time he puts someone in your life who speaks the truth to you. He offers it every time he confronts you with your sin and leads you to repentance. He offers it every time temptation comes your way and he gives you a way to resist. In him, you are free.
- Are you tempted to think of freedom in the same terms our culture defines it? Have you seen ways that exercising that “freedom” has led people into slavery?
- Has there been a time in your life when you followed the desires of your heart, only to find yourself ultimately dissatisfied and enslaved to sin? Are you in that place right now?
- The truth Jesus gives us in his Word is the only source of true freedom. How will you tap into that freedom and live by it today?