"Know The Truth That Will Set You Free"
“Even as he spoke, many put their faith in him. 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." 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?" 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
Hear the Lord say to you through His Word:
Know the Truth that will set you free!
First, consider what it means to be free (John 8:30-32).
“Even as he spoke, many put their faith in him. To the Jews who had believed
him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.”
Who are these many persons who “put their faith” in Jesus and “who had believed
him”? To answer this question, we must consider the context of this passage:
Jesus is in the midst of a discussion with the Pharisees. In the preceding
verses of this section of John’s Gospel, Jesus has repeatedly emphasized the
hardness of their hearts. In the verses that follow, Jesus says that these Jews
seek to kill him because His word has no place in them (v. 37). They are not
true children of Abraham (vv. 39-43). They are not of God (v. 47). Rather,
they are children of the devil (v. 44).
In a later part of the chapter, Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father,
you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my
own; but He sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are
unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want
to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not
holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his
native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell
the truth, you do not believe me! Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I
am telling the truth, why don't you believe me? He who belongs to God hears
what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God."
So these Jews are not true disciples. Rather, they are a group of Jews who had
made outward professions of faith in Jesus but were unwilling to confess their
own sinfulness and submit to Jesus as Lord over their lives. They were
Christians in name only.
In verse 31, Jesus provides an explicit definition of true discipleship:
The test of a true disciple is “Do
you hold to Jesus’ teaching?”
OR, perhaps a better translation: “Do you remain in Jesus’ word?”
The mark of a true believer in Jesus is that he will remain in Christ’s Word,
seek to obey it, and seek to understand it better.
So what about you? Are you a true disciple of Jesus? Do you remain in His
word? Do you hold to His teaching? Is He the Lord and Master over your life?
Verse 32: “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
“The truth” here refers to saving truth, the truth that is bound up in the
person and work of Christ and is revealed in the Word of God. Psalm 119
declares that God’s “law is truth,” His “commandments are truth,” and “the
entirety of His word is truth” (Psalm 119: 142, 151, 160, NKJ). In His high
priestly prayer, recorded in John 17, Jesus said, “Sanctify them by the truth;
Your word is truth” (John 17:17).
A disciple of Jesus is one who has been set free, for that is what salvation
means; it means deliverance. A disciple is one who has been delivered
from sin and death, delivered from the wrath that is to come.
If you are a true disciple of Jesus, then you will know the truth. Those who
are true disciples of Christ have the Holy Spirit, who is the “Spirit of truth,”
and who guides believers “into all truth,” as they study the Word of God (John
16:13). Only true believers have this Divine guidance and illumination that
allows them to know the truth that will set them free.
If you are a believer, are you diligently
studying God’s Word? Jesus said that man shall live by every word that
proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew. 4:4), for every word
of God is pure truth! So are you seeking
to understand the entirety of God’s word?
As you study God’s word and apply it to your life, you will be set free more and
more from sin and become more and more like Jesus! That is God’s will—your
growth in holiness.
Furthermore, this passage from the gospel of John teaches us that Jesus is the
Truth. Jesus said in John 14:6: “I
am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the
Father except through me” (emphasis added). Jesus is the only Savior of
men, as the apostle Peter testified in Acts 4:12: "Nor is there salvation
in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which
we must be saved.”
If you are a disciple of Jesus, then you have been delivered from sin. But what
have you been delivered to?
You have been set free to serve God! The apostle Peter writes in
1 Peter 2:16,
“Live as free men, but do
not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.”
And the apostle Paul writes in Galatians 5:13,
“You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to
indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.” You have
been set free from sin, so that you might serve God and serve one another in
love. That is what it means to be free; it means to be Christ’s bondservant—to
“love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all
your mind” and to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39).
How do I do this? Ephesians 4:22-24 teaches that you must “put off” your old
self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires, renew your minds by
studying God’s Word, and “put on” the new self, created to be like God in true
righteousness and holiness.
When is a liar no longer a liar? A
liar is no longer a liar when he stops lying and starts
telling the truth. Ephesians 4:25
“Therefore each of you must put
off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of
When is a thief no longer a thief? A
thief is no longer a thief when he stops stealing and
starts working and giving some of his income to others who are
in need. Ephesians 4:28
“He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing
something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with
those in need.”
Now that you have considered what it means to be free, secondly, it is vitally
important that you recognize your true spiritual condition (John 8:33-34).
“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?"”
For these Jews to boast that they “have never been slaves of anyone” sounds
absurd. For how could they forget their past bondage in Egypt, their servitude
during the period of the Judges, their seventy years of exile in Babylon, and
their present bondage as Rome’s vassal? But it is likely that these Jews were
not speaking of political or social slavery but rather of spiritual slavery.
They are boasting that they have never been spiritual slaves, for they are the
children of Abraham—an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own
special people (cf. Deuteronomy 7:6; 1 Peter 2:9).
Yet, how mistaken they were. Jesus says that these Jews are not true children
of Abraham but rather children of the devil (John 8:44), for it is only
those who are in Christ, those who have been spiritually reborn by God’s Spirit,
who are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise (Galatians 3:29).
These Jews were so blinded by their prideful
hearts that they could not discern their true spiritual condition.
In verse 34 Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave
to sin. “Everyone
who sins is a slave to sin” denotes a continuing state. It might also be
translated as “everyone who is constantly doing sin” or “everyone who lives in
sin.” John similarly teaches in his first epistle, “No one who lives in him
keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him”
(1 John 3:6).
The Bible makes it clear that no one is sinless in this life. We all struggle
with the enticements of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Even the best of
Christians sin daily in thought, word, and deed. But a Christian’s life is not
characterized by a lifestyle of sinful thoughts, words, or actions, for we do
not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
As Paul teaches in Romans, everyone is a slave to something. Either you
are a slave to righteousness or a slave to sin. Make no mistake about it, if
your lifestyle is characterized by sin, then you are a slave to sin!
So what about you? Do you recognize your true spiritual condition?
If you are not a child of God, if you have not been born again, then, according
to Jesus, you are a child of the devil and a slave to sin. If Satan is your
Master, he will do anything he can to deceive you into thinking that you are
free. For as Jesus tells us in John 8:44, “The devil does not
hold to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he
speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of
The devil does not believe in absolute truth.
He is anti-Christ. He is anti-Truth. He wants
you to be his slave, and he will do all that he can to keep you as his slave. To
this end, he will tempt you to rebel against God and to live a life of sin.
But Jesus offers you an alternative.
He offers you freedom from slavery. He
offers you deliverance. He offers you salvation. And He demands that you
transfer your allegiance from serving sin to serving God.
Now that you have considered what it means to be free and the importance of
recognizing your true spiritual condition, we have reached the third and final
point of this study, which requires action on your part:
God calls you to trust in the Truth that
will set you free (John 8:35-36).
“Now a slave has no permanent place in the family [literally, “the slave does
not remain in the house forever”], but a son belongs to it forever.
So if the Son sets you
free, you will be free indeed” (cf. Galatians 4:21-31).
Here Jesus compares the position of the domestic slave with that of
the son in the house. A slave may enjoy the privileges of the house for
awhile, but not forever.
The “Son” here refers to Jesus Himself,
the Son of God, which is a title repeatedly used for Jesus in John’s Gospel.
The right of freedom belongs to Jesus alone, for at the cross and through His
resurrection from the dead, He conquered sin and death.
Jesus teaches that Abraham’s true children (i.e., those who have been
adopted into God’s house) will remain in His
house and enjoy its privileges permanently.
In John 6:37 Jesus said that "the one who comes to Me I will by no means
cast out.” But, in contrast to Abraham’s true children, Abraham’s slaves (i.e.,
those who are “slaves to sin”) will be driven out.
A Day of Judgment is coming, in
which all men will be
judged by an infinitely holy and just God. All those who are slaves to sin and
hence children of the devil will be separated forever from the benevolent
presence of God. Instead, they will spend eternity in hell, forever recipients
of the violent, agonizing wrath of Almighty God. This is a state of
spiritual imprisonment, consciously enduring punishment for all eternity to
come. There will be no release date, no hope remaining for pardon or acquittal,
no hope for escape from God’s righteous wrath against sin.
But there is good news! God, because of who He is, a God rich in mercy, love,
and grace, sent His Son to purchase salvation for His people. The sinless Son
of God was unjustly put to death at the hands of wicked men. Yet, on the third
day, He rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven, and was seated at the right
hand of God the Father. And He will come again!
Because Jesus has paid the penalty for His people’s sins, He alone has the power
to set you free.
Jesus, the Son of God, is the Truth [He is Truth itself!] and the only means by
which you can be set free.
Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the
Father except through me” (John 14:6). He said, “for this reason I was born,
and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth” (John 18:37).
Jesus was sent “to proclaim freedom for the prisoners” and “to release the
oppressed” (Luke 4:18-19).
Do you want freedom? Do you want to be set free from slavery to sin? Then,
trust in the Truth that will set you free!
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32).
Frederick Douglass was a brilliant and influential nineteenth-century,
African-American writer. Growing up, he was also an American slave. In his
autobiography, Douglass recounts how his master rebuked his wife for beginning
to teach young Frederick Douglass how to read, saying, “if you teach
Frederick how to read, there would be no keeping him. It would forever
unfit him to be a slave. He would at once become unmanageable, and of no value
to his master.”
Douglass wrote, “From that moment, I understood the pathway from slavery to
freedom.” In overhearing his master’s argument with his wife, Douglass
discovered that literacy was the pathway to his freedom from slavery.
Though conscious of the difficulty of learning without a teacher, Douglass set
out “with high hope, and a fixed purpose, at whatever cost of trouble, to learn
how to read.”
Satan knows that if you study God’s Word, believe God’s Word, meditate
on God’s Word, and trust in God’s Word—Jesus Christ, who is Truth itself, then
Satan knows that he will lose a slave. He knows that there would be no
keeping you, it would forever make you unfit to be his slave. If you
obeyed all of God’s Word and resolved to serve the Lord Jesus Christ alone, then
you would at once become unmanageable and of no value to the devil.
Therefore, Satan will do all that he can to seek to prevent you from reading,
from thinking critically, from thinking logically, and from thinking
spiritually. He will attack the idea of absolute truth. He will try to deceive
you into thinking that God’s Word is not breathed out by God, without error,
unfailing, and all-sufficient in all that it teaches. He will try to deceive
you into thinking that part or all of God’s Word no longer applies to your
culture and the time in which you live. He will try to deceive you by filling
our mind with numbing music with lyrics that exalt the world, the flesh, and the
devil and denounce Christ and His morality. He will try to deceive you into
numbing your brain with images (e.g., video games, television, movies, cartoons,
and entertainment), random facts, trivial knowledge, and worldly wisdom that is
of no eternal value. He will try to impede you from memorizing Scripture,
thinking critically, and comparing one passage of Scripture with another, using
the clear passages to interpret what appears at first to be unclear. The devil
will try to deceive you to embrace a dumbed-down, feelings-oriented,
simple-minded, subjective religion instead of the logical, clear,
thought-provoking, majestic, God-centered, complex truth
of Scripture. And the devil will try to deceive you to embrace superstition and
ritual instead of the pure and simple faith and worship of Christ. Dear friend,
do not be deceived!
Literacy, and most
important, Biblical literacy, remains the pathway to freedom from slavery. More
specifically, the pathway to freedom from spiritual slavery is through
placing your trust in Jesus, who is the Truth. Then, you will know the
Truth, and the truth will set you free!
Jesus is the Truth, and He alone can set you free! So Trust in Him now, for if
the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!
Copyright © 2010 Wabash
Bible Ministries. All rights reserved.