Written by Paul J. Bucknell on May, 04, 2020
John 8:30-36 True Freedom
When a person becomes a Christian, they find true freedom. They discover meaning in life. Some of you might think freedom has to do with realizing some American dream, but that is not Christianity.
Let me first state what true freedom is not.
• True freedom is not the expression of our feelings. Some think if they say what they feel, then they would be free. This is ‘Freedom of Expression’ taken to an extreme. Here’s a test of reality. When we always speak our feelings, we unnecessarily hurt people. The book of Proverbs says it is unwise to express our anger because it only makes things worse. Jesus contrarily states that freedom enables us to do God’s will—full of self-control.
• True freedom is not the satiation of our desires. I’m not free when I get everything I desire. Just because one has a desire for a product or a person, it does not mean that their lives would be better if they got it. The Bible clearly says covetousness is wrong, and those who follow their lusts end up with disastrous results.
• True freedom is not found in our social system. Somehow, modern cultures have made toleration a license to do anything one wishes without criticism from the society around you. This kind of toleration is not the hallmark of a free society but of a rapidly degenerating culture. In today’s world, justice is twisted. Those who stand up for what is right are sued. Meanwhile, wrongdoers can do more and more evil. This is not freedom but wretched captivity accompanied by horrible consequences.
• True freedom is not found in political/economic systems outside of God, including the so-called democratic movement. True freedom happens when people come under the rule of Jesus Christ (cf. Isaiah 9:6-7).
True freedom, instead, enables one to do what God has designed initially. God, Our Designer, has plans for your life. True freedom rests in being able to do what one should do, not in doing what one is forbidden (1 Samuel 15:23). Freedom is the ability to fulfill the purpose for which God has created you entirely.
Let’s turn now to the Master Teacher, Jesus Christ, and join a crowd who is listening to Him speak on this topic.
A. The Way to Gain True Freedom (John 8:31-32)
The Spirit, through the living Word of God, first convicts us of our sin and then causes us to be born again. Our living God initiates these authentic experiences. We must not minimize these; they are real and needed. Jesus speaks about this in John 8:30. God, similarly, is at work today. He works in our lives not because we are good but according to His great mercy (1 Peter 1:1-3). The greatest miracle one can see today is the change of the heart. You might want to see a healing miracle or another sort of miracle, but nothing proves God’s existence today as much as the change in people’s lives. People share their testimony because it demonstrates the wonderful love of God.
The real question for our lives is not to get what we want but to do what we are supposed to. It is not to be someone else but be conformed to His purposes for us. Jesus told them the way to real freedom is to be His disciples. Let’s see what He told them in John 8:31-32.
30 As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him. 31 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
Jesus describes this gaining of freedom as a process. They all work closely together, though, they appear to happen at the same time. These are the three steps.
1) Abiding in Jesus’ Word 2) Knowing His truth 3) The truth sets one free
1) We start the whole process with the teaching of Jesus. True disciples are not those that hear the words of Jesus but live according to them. “Many came to believe in Him.” Jesus is not saying one has to do things to become a Christian. These things happen after we enter God’s kingdom through faith in Christ. After they believe, however, they will abide in His Word. We can readily see this change in new Christians who all of a sudden love to hear and do God’s Words. His Word becomes their food.
In our former analogy, the computer is now plugged in and finally working, but it still needs to be programmed to be usable. The Christian now possesses life. The ultimate goal of God’s Word is to reset you to live out God’s design for your lives. This ‘freedom’ is the real meaning in life for which we have been searching. They now abide in Jesus’ Word. Christ’s Spirit leads and lives in them. This leads us to the second step.
2) The second step, which follows the doing of Christ’s word, is knowing the truth. Disobedience cuts off the growing process because it doesn’t allow the truth to enter. Sometimes, we demand to know the truth before we commit ourselves to the Lord. This is senseless. You can try to teach a dead man lots of things, but he can’t learn. He first needs to be born again with a new life, and then being alive, he can learn. Some of you might get mad at the way we assert our knowledge of the truth. I can understand. But understand what Jesus is saying. You can’t appreciate it because you are not following Jesus. Or test His words if you will. Ask these new Christians how they considered themselves as blind before they became Christians. They might have heard it numerous times before, but it just didn’t sink into their minds. We needed life before living out these truths in our lives.
3) The third part of the process is that the truth will make us free. The verse says, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Free in what way? Free to do what we were created. Free to do all the things we should do. Free to be our selves.
Captivity, on the other hand, is doing the things that you were not designed to do. It is what we call sin. For example, will a fish consider it free if taken from a river and put on the land? Or again, your computer was made to use electricity at such and such a current. If one does not supply power to the computer, it is a black screen—even without using a screen saver program. God’s truth restores freedom to human beings because it brings them back to the environment in which they were made to live. It is liberating because it is so right, natural, good and beautiful. Man was made in God’s image and for the restoration that leads to tree freedom.
One person, for example, might be a habitual liar. This is the way he gets what he wants. He thinks he is better off by lying. He has deluded himself so that he doesn’t question the impact lying has on his life. Though he gets some things by lying, he loses out in the long end. The liar thinks he is doing great because he thinks his lies help him. But lies hurt people. Lies create superficial people. How can you become a friend if you lie to someone? No. You are disloyal. To be a friend, you must be truthful. People find that if they cannot trust you in one area, they cannot trust you in other areas. If a person lies, it proves that he places his interests ahead of the interests of others.
Lying negatively affects your career; it affects your marriage relationship. Now you might have grown up thinking that these relationships can never be good. But this is not true. Jesus brings the truth by which we can form good and strong friends and spouses. We are not going to flatter or show off, but to care about others. Let love substitute your selfishness and transform your lives. You will become free.
Jesus is essentially saying, that He has come into the world to set us free from all the sin patterns that have frustrated and troubled our lives. The more we go against the words of Christ, the more our lives become snarled and twisted. But as we abide in His Word, we reverse that cycle. He leads us into the truth, which then escorts us into freedom.
B. Our Need to Gain Freedom (John 8:33-34)
33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet 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 commits sin is the slave of sin. (John 8:33-34)
The Jews—even those who believed—seem troubled by Jesus’ teaching. You might say to yourself that you are doing fairly well. You admit to a few problems but generally, everything is fine. But frankly, we must see what Jesus is promising. It is very different from what we naturally are. What did the Jews think of Jesus’ words? They defended themselves. Instead, they said, “We are Abraham’s offspring, and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that you say, ‘You shall become free’?”
The implication to the words, “the truth shall make you free” stung the hearts of these proud listeners. We, like them, will naturally say,
“We are not slaves. How dare you call us slaves? We have earned what we have. We do what we want. We are God’s people. We are better than slaves.”
This kind of response arises because we are comfortable with our old lives. But, a fish out of the water, its natural habitat, quickly dries up and dies. With our pride, degrees, experience, and money, we assert we are free. We do not recognize another person’s control of us. We, like them, treasure freedom.
What is it that Jesus is teaching? Why does He challenge them and us with the words, “You shall become free?” Jesus knows our hearts better than ourselves. It is our natural reaction to protest because Jesus strikes at a vulnerable place in our hearts.
Jesus answered them and us in a most simple but powerful way. “Truly, truly, I say to you, every one who commits sin is the slave of sin.” He cuts through all their emotions with one statement. Jesus states that our imperfect behavior depicts a greater power controlling us. Think of all those things which you knew you should do. You should be honest or kind, but you were not. You recognized in your heart what was proper. If it was not proper, then why did you give in and do evil? It is because you submitted to your sinful desires. In a real sense, you served a power that was not really yourself—your sin. So Jesus adamantly says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.”
Just think. If you knew something was wrong, but still did it, doesn’t this show that there is a stronger power at work in your life. Doesn’t it prove that you did something which you knew you shouldn’t do?
Like the Jews, we do not stand free from this incrimination of Jesus’ words. We are guilty, obviously guilty, because we have sinned. The more one sins, the more its power is obvious. I have met up with alcoholics, drug users, liars, etc., who say they can’t change. The bitter person says he can’t forgive a person. But even a little sin admits that we are slaves to sin and need to be set free.
C. The Son Only Can Make Us Free (John 8:35-36)
35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:35-36)
Jesus was a radical teacher. He pointed out that they were more like servants rather than sons. Remember, servants (i.e., slaves) were owned in that day, not merely hired. In some respects, their situation seems fairly similar to the son. They get to live in the same place and live amidst the wealth of what is there. Temporarily, the circumstances look the same. But it is only temporary. The slave has no rights and certainly no possessions. He only works there. Association with God does not mean relationship. As long as they are slaves, they have no longterm claim on God’s prosperity.
This claim of real ownership goes to the son. Slaves are slaves. A slave would have to be first transformed from a slave into a freeman and then from a freeman into a son to become a heir. This transformation is described twofold in verse 36. Only Jesus, the Son of God, has the right and power to make this transformation. The Son belongs to the house and has the right to bring others into it. He can change the status of a slave if He so desires, but it certainly is his privilege. No slave, however, can insist on the right to freedom and definitely not sonship. Freedom for a slave is always initiated by the freeman. As the Son of the true God, Jesus can adopt slaves and make them part of God’s great family. The adoption or transformation of a slave into a freeman can be done only by the one having power in that family.
Only Jesus the Messiah can help us in our plight because He alone breaks the bond of sin and its power. In Jesus’ resurrection, we have seen a clear statement of One who has conquered sin and death. God uses His Son’s blood to take away our sin and to set us free to become part of His family. Remember Jesus’ purpose is not to make you into someone you are not, but to make you into who you are. This is true freedom. I know people search everywhere for freedom and meaning in life, but it can only be found in Jesus Christ and the new life He gives.
Believe in Jesus, and you will be saved.
True freedom is the ability to fulfill the purpose for which God has created you.