The Truth Will Set You Free
John 8:31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”
34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”
The Truth Will Set You Free
There’s two things that make up our passage today.
1. We can’t help but sin.
2. Only the truth can set us free.
Let’s look at it together. Firstly, we can’t help but sin. Have a look at verse 34.
34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.
Notice that Jesus doesn’t say everyone who sins. He says everyone who practices sin. Which tells us that sin is not just doing bad things. That’s what people love to think. Because if sin is just doing bad stuff like murder or rape, then those of us who haven’t done stuff like that can breathe a little easier right? Sure, we’re not perfect, but would you put yourself in the same category as paedophiles or gang rapists?
So what IS sin? Jesus tells us in verse 37.
37 I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. Jesus describes “my word finds no place in you…”
Imagine growing up with parents who told you, you have to eat your vegetables. You must listen and do what I tell you to. I don’t care who had it first, share with your brother. You’re not allowed to watch tv. No you can’t have any ice cream. Why? Because it’s 7 in the morning. Argh all these rules!
Now lets say for example you have a twin brother who despite the best efforts, continued to rebel. By the time you reach adulthood, who do you think is better equipped to have normal relationships or to have a proper job? It’s whoever listened and took their parent’s words to heart.
Sin is not doing bad things. It is a heart that has no room for a loving parent to speak into. Jesus says, I know you’re Abraham’s descendants. I know you go to church. I know you grew up in Sunday school. I know you think you’ve read the Bible and know all there is to know. But my word has no place in you. That’s what sin is. It’s in the heart.
You might say, ok so it’s just about following the rules. We must listen. Is that what you think?
Back to the twins. Let’s say you both are obedient children. You listened and followed the rules. And because of your hard work and a good upbringing, you both turn out to be successful individuals. But only one of you still talks to mom and dad. Your twin for some reason is happy just to live his own life. He comes and visits twice a year: at Easter and Christmas. But otherwise he’s just doing his own thing. It’s not like he hates the family. He’s just busy. If it works for you that’s cool, but it’s not for me.
You guys know it is more than just following rules. You can do everything that’s expected of you, but in your heart have no room for God. That’s the essence of sin.
But more, Jesus says everyone who practices sin. Anyone here play a musical instrument? I’ve always remembered hearing Tommy Emmanuel talk about practice. He plays the guitar and he says you want to keep doing it until you can sit in front of the TV and play without even thinking about it. It just comes naturally to you. When you can do that, you are well-practiced. I think that’s what Jesus means.
Everyone who practices sin is talking about the person for whom ignoring God is easy. It comes naturally. Do you find you can wake up in the morning, brush your teeth, get on with your day, and not even think about God? Do you find watching tv easier than reading your Bible? Why is that? It’s because we can’t help but sin. We’ve been practicing it since we were babies. We are slaves to sin.
So that’s the first thing – we can’t help but sin.
But secondly, only the truth can set us free. Look at the beginning verse with me.
31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Isn’t that surprising? Jesus is talking to people who had believed him. It’s not like he’s telling people who don’t believe, believe and you’ll be free. No. He’s saying to people who do believe that they still need to be set free.
How does that work? Well, because freedom is not the ability to do whatever I want. That’s what most people think right? Freedom is the ability to decide the course of one’s life. And people have gone to war over this, how important we think freedom is. The only problem is that it’s not true.
The easiest example is having the doctor say to you look you need to stop eating maccas. The truth is that all those quarter pounders are killing you. You have 2 choices right, take the truth to heart, limit your maccas intake and enjoy a healthier and longer life; or ignore the truth and continue to freely consume maccas. Whatever choice we make involves limiting ourselves in some way in order to be freed up in another.
I’ll give you another example. Most of you guys are single. I remember what it’s like to be single. You can do whatever you want whenever you want. You can watch whatever you want on tv. If you want to watch all 6 Star Wars movies you can. You know what I’ll have to do if I want to watch Star Wars? I have to watch Miss Congeniality first.
I don’t have the freedom to watch whatever I want whenever I want. I don’t have the freedom to decide anything and everything. Why? Because I’m in a relationship. But is it killing me? No. I choose to restrict and limit myself in order to find a deeper and richer freedom that comes from a relationship. And it’s why when the time comes, I know all of you will gladly choose to give up your freedom for him or her.
Jesus says the truth will set you free. What truth? He tells us in verse 35.
35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
What is truth? Is it some abstract principle to live by or collection of moral teaching to follow? Is it relative? What’s true for you may not be true for them. You have to find it yourself? Is that it?
Jesus says the truth will set you free. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. What does this mean? We must understand this because this is what makes Christianity utterly unique. It means that truth is a person. If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. Every founder of every religion points to something as the truth. Mohammad points his disciples to seek truth in the Quran. Buddha points his disciples to seek truth in the universe. Jesus comes along and points us to himself. Christianity in this regard is fundamentally different. No other religious founder has ever made claims that come even close to Jesus.
And Jesus says if you abide in my word, you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. In other words, if you come to Jesus seeking the truth, you will know Him, and He will set you free.
How do I know that? Because Jesus gave up his freedom for you. And it’s not just freedom to watch movies. He gave up the freedom to live. And he did it willingly and joyfully for us. The truth that the Bible talks about is not some abstract principle. It’s a person. And because of his great love for us, he gave up his freedom to the point of dying on the cross. He will set you free.
Free from insecurity. Are there times where you wonder does anyone love me? Does anyone even care about me? Look at the cross and ask yourself how much Jesus loves you.
Free from guilt. Have you ever wondered can God really forgive me? I’ve done some stupid stuff. Look at the cross and ask yourself is Jesus not good enough a sacrifice to pay for whatever little thing you did.
Free from self-doubt. Do you ever look at others and wonder why you aren’t as successful? Do you ever ask yourself will my life ever amount to anything? What’s my purpose in life? Look at the cross and ask yourself is there something else more valuable more worthy more significant for you to give your life to?
Jesus says, if you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. Look at the cross, see Jesus the Son of God who had absolute freedom, give it all up for us. When you see that, you will be free.