True Freedom – John 8
31 Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
33 “But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?”
34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. 35 A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. John 8:31-36
Imagine a husband taking his wife out to a nice restaurant for their anniversary. Over candle light he expresses his love…
“Honey, your 5’4”, 120 pounds, born in January, brown hair, brown eyes and live on East St. and I like to be with you” Romantic isn’t it!!
Now imagine the same situation with the husband saying,
“You walk in beauty, like the sky, Your presence is a lovely gift to me. All the best of life and hope are in you. You meet every aspect of love in your eyes.”
While the romantically challenged husband in the first situation communicated information that was accurate, he failed to communicate the depth, the magnitude, and beauty.
Love is more than a list of factual information. Love is a mysterious and beautiful relationship between two people.
I mention this to introduce the idea of what Jesus is speaking about in John 8. Jesus does not use poetry, but He is proclaiming information that is explosive, emotional, and transformational. The concepts of truth, sin, and freedom are more than fill in the blank answers from a Sunday School quiz.
Remember He offers freedom from the nature or condition that enslaves us all. The freedom that Jesus offers is not a political system; it is a release from the chains that enslave one’s soul.
32 “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
A. Jesus makes one of the most amazing Inspirational claims in history. Consider for a moment the incredible hope expressed in the promise that Jesus can set people free.
- Unless you have lived a sheltered life, you have probably experienced an enslaved soul or have known loved ones who struggle to break free from ungodly chains.
- These ungodly chains my be easy to identify like an immoral addiction, fear, greed, poverty, worldliness, doubt, anger, bitterness, legalism, racism, insecurity, despair, and depression. Whatever category you classify your slavery, the result is the same – a failure to experience the abundant life promised by following Christ.
To those living in bondage, Jesus offers freedom!
- The Freedom offered by Jesus is Spiritual. His freedom is not a political revolution. True freedom is not about changing your outward circumstances.
- This is a significant concept because it reveals that Jesus can free you wherever you are.
- Paul was on the road to Damascus persecuting Christians. The prodigal was in a pig pen. Peter was in a boat fishing. One woman was drawing water from a well. Another woman found freedom when caught in adultery. A thief was on a cross of execution when Jesus set his soul free!
- Spiritual freedom is not dependent upon physical circumstances that may have led or contributed to your bondage.
- Jesus can set you free in your marriage without causing a divorce. Jesus can set you free when you are overdrawn in your checkbook without making a deposit. Jesus can set you free from past or current failures without loading a U-haul truck.
24 Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. Romans 3:24
II. Purposeful Freedom
31 Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain (abide, men?) faithful to my teachings.” John 8:31
Jesus describes the freedom He offers resulting from Abiding in His truth.
- A. Freedom is not a lack of restraint that allows us to fulfill any selfish desire, but genuine freedom takes place in the arena of divine truth. As we Abide in Christ we are released from the chains of the world and released to be all that God created us to be.
- Like a fish has been created to swim in water, we are created to live in the truth of Christ’s love.
illu…Consider playing an instrument like the piano. Who is free the toddler who has never taken a lesson but freely bangs on the piano keys, or the person who has taken lessons, reads music, and creates beautiful even worshipful sounds with the same piano? Obviously, the skilled musician is free to play the instrument as it was designed.
3. We were created to walk in fellowship with almighty God, but sin hinders that relationship by enslaving us in a separated life from God. Christ is the only one who can set us free to enjoy the life as a child of God instead of living as a slave of the world.
III. Threats of Freedom
33 “But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?” John 8:33
Even though Jesus clearly declared that freedom was possible, the sad reality is that many don’t experience it. The following is not an exhaustive list, but several threat or roadblocks hindering freedom are identified in the text.
- The first threat is Ignorance
Jesus is declaring new truth to some who did not know that freedom was available. The Bible describes those who lacked knowledge of Christ’s ministry as “living in darkness,” and Jesus came to bring light to those who lived in darkness.
- The second threat is Arrogance
- The Pharisees’ statement that they had “never been slaves” is not just inaccurate; it is arrogant. Israel had experienced slavery under the Assyrian Empire, Babylonian Empire, Persian Empire, and now the Roman Empire.
- But their greatest slavery was to their own sin. They were unwilling to admit that they had failed to meet God’s holy standard. They lived by a legalistic code and arrogantly rejected the offer of God’s amazing grace.
- The third threat is Reluctance: Reluctance is the third threat that prevents some from responding to Christ’s offer of freedom. The context reveals that some had placed their faith in Christ (v. 30), while others believed what Jesus was preaching but had not taken the next step placing their faith in Him.
- This group was not ignorant. They were not arrogant because they recognized a need for Christ, but they were unwilling to surrender to the lordship of Christ.
- The fourth threat is Complacency
- Contained in the text is the exhortation to be free indeed. This exhortation seems to stand in contrast to those who would accept marginal freedom.
- A little bit of freedom was acceptable instead of trusting Christ for abundant freedom. Attending synagogue, offering some sacrifices, and celebrating the traditional “holy day” festivals was okay for most people. Jesus offers true freedom from the top shelf instead of settling for the cheap prizes at the bottom shelf.
Story…A friend shared the story of taking his four-year-old daughter to Chuck-E-Cheese. On previous visits she won a few tickets and was limited to choosing prizes from the bottom shelf at the redemption center. But on their last visit to Chuck-E-Cheese, the daughter hit the jackpot on one of the games winning a large number of tickets. As they were going to the redemption center to claim her prizes she said, “Daddy I don’t have to choose from the bottom shelf this time. Today, I have enough for the good prizes on the top shelf.”
- I am convinced most individuals who call themselves “Christians” live complacent lives choosing blessings from the bottom shelf when abundant freedom is available. Are you living “free indeed?”
IV. Process of freedom
34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. 35 A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.” John 8:34-36
- Jesus identifies a process for experiencing true freedom with the words, “If..then.” The process should not be confused with a legalistic formula. He does not say,
“If you have a daily quiet time with thirty minutes of prayer, tithe faithfully, and only miss Sunday School twice a year, then you can be free.”
- While Jesus does not prescribe a formula, His words do reveal a way in which things operate in His kingdom.
- The little word “if” is a big concept in the kingdom of God. The word represents an invitation. True freedom will not attack you; rather you must respond to God’s invitation to accept His complete freedom.
- Jesus also reveals the expectation to abide. Two concepts emerge from the text related to abiding in truth.
First, Abiding Refers to Perseverance. True freedom is not found through a casual glance at the claims of Christ, but one must be willing to “remain faithful to my teachings” (v.31).
“Remain” – abide, dwell, endure, continue…
illu…This is not a 30 day trial of faith. Jesus is not talking about a 12 week Bible study. Jesus offers freedom to those who Abide in His Word. Abide comes from the root word abode meaning home or dwelling place. The word picture communicated is one of moving to a new home. It represents a significant and ongoing change in one’s life.
Second, Abiding refers to Dwelling with Another. Jesus declares that True Abiding is dwelling in His Word. This is not not found in self-help programs, legalistic religion, the teaching of Buddha, or Muhammad. Freedom is an aspect of abiding. It is not found in the pop psychology of Dr. Phil, Oprah, or through selfish indulgence of unrestrained sin.
Jesus declares that True Abiding is dwelling in His Word.
Most of us have experienced the crunch of high gasoline prices. When my teenage daughter asked to ride with us in Santa Cruz because she doesn’t want to use the gas in her car, you know that gas is expensive.
Imagine if congress allowed drilling for oil in my backyard to help reduce the cost of gas. What do you think the impact would be upon prices? None! Why? Because they p! The soil deposits in this geographic region do not contain the chemicals necessary for producing large quantities of fuel like those of Texas, Alaska, or Saudi Arabia. Not matter how hard I work and no matter how sincere I believe, digging for oil in my backyard will not produce the desired result. To get oil, you must dig where there is a deposit of oil.
Jesus declared there is a deposit of truth in His words that can set you free indeed!