07/24/17

True Freedom (John 8:31-36)

When we listed things that people desire, “freedom” was mentioned. “Freedom” may be defined as “the state of not being constrained, afflicted, controlled, dominated, oppressed, enslaved or imprisoned.”

Freedom in General
“Freedom” can refer to release or separation from any constraining, restricting or undesirable condition or situation. This would include freedom from slavery, prison or oppressive forces. It could also include freedom from illness, difficulty, trouble, financial debt, obligation, etc.

Freedom is not only “freedom from” but “freedom to.”

When people talk about freedom, they often mean “personal freedom,” which includes the freedom to think, speak and act as they want. When we are given the opportunity and power to do what we want, we have “freedom to.” However, is freedom always good?

Misuse of Freedom
We can use our “freedom” to make wrong choices and do wrong things. The first man (Adam) misused his freedom. God told him, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die” (Genesis 2:16-17, NIV).

To do the right thing, Adam was “not free” to disobey God. But as a human being, Adam had the “freedom” to obey or disobey God. Adam (and Eve) chose to disobey God and do the wrong thing. This is “sin,” which may be defined as any attitude or action opposed to God’s authority and moral will.

Need for a Deliverer
Adam’s sin has infected all of his descendants (all humanity) so that all are morally corrupted. All humans are born captive to the power of sin. As a result of sin, we live in a fallen world – a world full of bad things that constrain, afflict, control, dominate, oppress, enslave or imprison us. Thus we need to be “delivered” (set free)!

When Jesus came into this world, he claimed to be the One who would “proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners” (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:16-21). Isaiah’s original prophecy was offered as comfort to the Jews prior to their physical captivity in Babylon. But Jesus made it clear that Isaiah’s prophecy pointed to a greater fulfillment.

The freedom that Jesus brings is firstly spiritual and applies to us today. In the future Jesus will return to establish his perfect kingdom and God’s people will experience complete freedom!

How to be Set Free
Jesus made great claims about himself and his relationship to his Father (God the Father). Many of Jesus’ fellow Jews rejected him, but many believed 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’” (John 8:31-32, NIV).

“The truth will set you free” has become a popular saying. It is the motto of many universities. Many people believe that education “will set us free.” While education can help to “set us free from the bonds of ignorance,” education alone cannot “set us free” from spiritual bondage. Our problem is not merely intellectual; it is spiritual, and relates to our moral condition and relationship with God. Jesus made this clear.

Jesus said, "everyone who [continues in sin]" is a "slave to sin" (John 8:34). Everyone enters life in slavery to sin. We are controlled by our sinful desires, and the result of sin is death (Romans 6:23). The "truth" offers freedom from both the controlling influence of sin and the result of sin (which is "spiritual death" – separation from God, the Source of life).

The "truth" is connected with Jesus himself, who died on the cross for our sin, and was raised from the dead thereby defeating sin and death. Through faith in Jesus, we are united with him in his victory over sin and death. This is true freedom!

Of course, many people do not feel they need the freedom that Jesus offers. The Jews listening to Jesus didn’t feel they needed it (John 8:33). They felt secure as "Abraham’s descendants." They were relying on their ethnic/religious status, not realizing that a true relationship with God (and true freedom) is realized through faith in Jesus. Those who rely on their status, descent or achievements are blinded to their real needs, and the real Solution.

If we want true freedom, we must trust in Jesus and hold to his teaching. Jesus is “the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). He is the only way to God. Have you admitted your need to be “set free”? Do you need to trust in the Jesus?

Set Free to Serve God
True freedom is not freedom to continue in sin, which shows slavery to the forces that oppose God (Romans 6:1-23). True freedom is freedom to serve God willingly and joyfully. True freedom is a new life indwelt by the Holy Spirit, inspired and enabled to do God’s will. Paul wrote, “…you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God” (Romans 6:22). True freedom is “slavery to God,” for God is the gracious Source of life, love and freedom.

Brothers and sisters, are you truly living in the freedom of Christ? Reflect on the truth of who you are as God’s beloved child. Reflect on the truth that Jesus has defeated sin and death, and you are united with him in his victory and freedom! Pray that these truths would saturate your heart. Pray for the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, and make a practice of saying “no” to sin, and “yes” to acts of righteousness. Reflect on Romans 6-8.

As always, if you have any comments or questions, please let me know.

Your Servant,
Jay


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