Then you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free. – John 8:32
I have heard quite a few sermons on this verse in my life. I’m pretty sure when I was younger that I took this verse to simply to mean that the “truth” part was “accepting Christ,” and the “set free” part was “not going to hell.” This morning, I’m taking a look at the context immediately surrounding the verse. It reveals so much about this 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.” – John 8:31
There were many Jews that had just begun to believe in Jesus. Maybe it was because of the miracles, and maybe it was simply for the way He spoke. Nevertheless, Jesus tells them that to truly be His disciple, they must hold on to His words. As I was witnessing to someone recently, he quickly let me know that he “did that”, meaning he asked Christ into his heart. However, he told me that he doesn’t believe anymore because of so many questions and doubts in his mind. I tried to sufficiently answer a few of his questions, but I told him to simply remain in the Lord. I told him to never give up on God because He will absolutely never give up on him. As our conversation went on and on, he said he could feel that God was not letting him go so easily. I prayed for him. I ask you guys to say a prayer for this young man as well before you read on.
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?” – John 8:33
This one may be more difficult than John 8:31. When you are young, it is remaining in Jesus and holding on to His teaching that is tough. Yet, when you become more mature, it becomes a little easier to rest on your laurels. Many Jews thought they were good to go simply because they were Abraham’s descendants. In addition, what a stupid thing to say about being slaves to no one . . . I’m pretty sure they knew the scroll of Exodus and that they had been slaves in Egypt. Even as they said those words, they were under Roman oppression. The point is, many people today believe they are saved because they “help people”, because they have “always been in church,” or because “my family raised me right.” There are a lot of wrong answers to “How do you know you have been truly set free?”
Then, how do you know?
All I know is that the power and the love of Christ drew me in when I was sixteen. I sinned more after I was saved than before I was saved. I let the devil convince me so often that I wasn’t saved at all because of the way I behaved. I didn’t realize it at the time, but there was so much power in simply “holding to His teaching” and never letting Him go. I just kept bringing my sin to Him no matter what I did. I never wanted to know life without Him again. I still don’t. Twenty-nine years later, I still know what a wretch I am. I know how easily I can wander and get too far away from the shepherd. Many times, God lets me feel far away from Him. It is then that I want to “hold fast,” and run back towards Him. He is absolutely irresistible.
I write all of that to say that maybe the truth is revealed over time as you hold fast to Christ’s teachings. As I’ve learned more and more truth over the years, I’ve learned that my heart is deceitfully wicked. I’ve learned that without Him, I’d be so lost in this life right now. Who knows what I’d believe or just how lost I would be? What is the truth? The truth is that I need Him more now than I did when I was sixteen. Therefore, I fall at His feet and plead with Him to change me and make me more and more like Him. Most of all, I plead with Him to never let me go and always draw me back to Himself when I become that little lost lamb wandering from the 99.
Father, there is and never will be anyone like you. Who has even heard of a God like you? You know all things. You know my heart. You know the heart of the young man I was speaking with recently. Help us to hold fast to your word. Continue to change us over time. Continue to show us just how much we need you and help us never ever think we have obtained salvation because of something we have done in the past. Hold fast is present tense. Right now, I fall upon You Jesus, and Your Word. Thy Word is truth. May the truth set me free. Amen