The desire for freedom is ingrained in each of us. This desire is God-designed. The way to achieve freedom is also God-designed. Jesus taught His disciples about this design. By way of the Bible, we get to listen in and personally learn what he taught.
“. . . 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 (NIV).
Jesus said that His teaching revealed truth, and that if we held to it we would be set free. But to be set free, we must first be held captive. This teaching begs the question, “Set free from what?” Jesus’ disciples came right out and asked it! “We have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be free?” (John 8:33). Jesus said that they were, in fact, enslaved and needed the truth to be free. The truth can set us free from the most dangerous slavery of all—the slavery we don’t think controls us. Let’s examine the concepts of slavery and freedom to see how the truth can free us.
We can experience two types of freedom. Let’s call them Freedom A and Freedom B. Freedom A is the freedom to do what we want. When nothing physically restricts us from doing what we want, we experience Freedom A. Freedom A allows us to do wonderful, loving, and kind things if we want to do them. Freedom A also allows us to do hurtful, hateful, and harmful things. In fact, if we examine Freedom A closely, we find that our sinful nature dominates it.
It is easy to think otherwise, but Jesus taught that sinful thoughts are still sinful, even when we disguise them with actions that hide the thoughts (Matthew 5:27-28). God sees the inner thoughts, and those thoughts—not the “candy coated” behaviors we show others—are the measure of sinfulness in our lives (Proverbs 21:2). So, Freedom A leads to self-focus, and ultimately produces immorality, impurity, idolatry, discord, and many other unsavory characteristics in our lives (Galatians 5:19-21). Freedom A serves a sinful, self-focused nature and enslaves us to it. In the end, Freedom A is really slavery masquerading as freedom.
Freedom B is the freedom to do what God wants. When we are not constrained by our self-focused human desires, we are free to love God and love others. Freedom B allows God to do His will through us. It leads to God-focused activity, and ultimately produces love, joy, patience, kindness, and other godly characteristics in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23). Freedom B serves a loving, almighty God, joining us by free choice to Him. Freedom B is true, eternal freedom. It’s the real deal!
In the end, the type of freedom you experience depends upon whose servant—or slave—you choose to be. If you serve yourself, you attain a false freedom. If you serve God, you attain true, everlasting freedom.
We can find the key to true freedom by working our way in reverse through our passage: We must know the truth. To know the truth, we must become a true disciple of Jesus Christ. To become a true disciple of Jesus Christ, we must hold to His teaching.
We hold to Jesus’ teaching by doing the following:
Prayer: Pray daily that the Holy Spirit will reveal to you the truth of Jesus’ teaching.
Study: Encounter His teaching by studying the Bible; make it a part of who you are.
Worship: Worship (reverencing, honoring, praising in word or song, paying homage, etc) draws us closer to God, allowing us to more intimately experience His teaching.
Fellowship: Join with others who also seek His teaching, for both support and accountability.
If we build an intimate, personal relationship with Jesus, we will know the truth and it will set us free. That’s the truth.
When you pray, when you study the Bible, when you worship Me, when you fellowship with others who also seek Me, you are empowered to hold to My teaching and you are really My disciple. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.
That’s the YouTruth. The truth will set you free.
© 2009, 2011 Dan Buckhout