The Truth Will Set You Free! – John 8:30-36
By Pastor Lee Hemen
May 17, 2015
Shel Silverstein once quipped, “Tell me I’m clever, Tell me I’m kind, Tell me I’m talented, Tell me I’m cute, Tell me I’m sensitive, Graceful and wise, Tell me I’m perfect – But tell me the truth.” Contrary to what some would like you to believe, there can only be one truth. However, for some the truth is completely relative, meaning it is only relevant when it benefits them or agrees with their own preconceptions. In our day and age where many think that lying is just part of life, we would do well to remember what Mark Twain wrote, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”
Jesus was the embodiment of the truth. He never lied nor did anything for his own benefit; his life was one of complete honesty, humility, and sacrifice. God knew that if he was going to relate the gospel message of salvation by faith through Jesus, Jesus would have to be completely truthful in every area of his life. In fact, Christians are to “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom! (James 2:12 NIV)” Jesus would later ask the Heavenly Father to “Sanctify” those who follow him “by the truth” because he knew that his “word is truth. (John 17:17 NIV)” This is why here in John’s gospel we learn that the truth will set you free, let’s discover what this means.
My father used to tell us, “A man is only as good as his word.” What he meant was that if someone said they agreed to something, they would definitely follow through. A man’s word would be dependable. Not everyone in our world today agrees with this but everyone wants others to do so! Jesus was completely dependable and he knew…
I. Everyone needs to know the Truth! (Vv. 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. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
1. When we read that “Even as he spoke, many put their faith in him,” doesn’t mean that the fickle crowd all of a sudden got religion or was saved; this is not what John means. More than likely he meant that some of the crowd began to realize that Jesus was indeed the Messiah he claimed to be. They began to possibly realize that Jesus was exactly what he claimed and nothing more or perhaps he was a great Prophet. They could see something different in his life, they heard it in his teaching, and saw it in the miracles he performed. They understood that Jesus did only do what pleased God and noting else. He did not seek glory for himself or for his followers. He only glorified God! Interestingly, we read that “To the Jews who had believed him” Jesus begins some heavy teaching. Perhaps Jesus knew some of them were ready to understand more fully what he was about or perhaps he knew that while many were willing to “believe” they were not willing to commit. There are those who say they believe in God or that they believe in Jesus, but what they believe and what they do with their lives says otherwise. I believe this is why Jesus immediately follows up with the concise comment, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.” The term “hold” here meant to abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, or stay firm in Jesus’ teaching. Not simply feel the urge one moment and then the next moment live otherwise. Far too many have a heartburn faith. They will burn to be filled and then walk away sated only to feed from some other trough that makes them feel good. If one wants to be called a disciple of Christ, one must hold to his teaching moment by moment, “Then you will know the truth, and truth will set you free!” The freedom Jesus spoke about was the freedom gain from the sin condition that infects everyone and freedom from the bondage of trying to please God. The truth of the gospel is not a fleeting feeling, a principle to post on Facebook, or an urge to be filled; it is a way of life! The truth is Jesus Christ and everyone needs to know the truth!
EXAMPLE: Sadly, there are those who claim Jesus but who will pridefully tell you that they will allow their children to make their own decision concerning spiritual things. What? They would never dream of saying, “I eat healthy myself, but I am going to allow my children to decide for themselves what they eat.” Or, “I don’t play with poisonous snakes, but I am going to allow my children to decide for themselves if they want to or not.” There is a reason God told us “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. (Proverbs 22:6 NIV)” The idea here in Scripture is that the parent takes the time to train their children in the Lord daily and they would then continue to walk in their faith. Too few Christian parents actually train their children in the truth of the gospel Jesus Christ. We discover here that ignorance is not bliss; everyone needs to know the truth!
When I had our dog put down someone later remarked, “Well now she is happy and running around in heaven” I just looked at them. They were shocked that I did not believe our dog went to heaven; after all I am a pastor! I blandly asked them, “What constitutes a ‘good’ animal over a ‘bad’ animal?” Did they think all the mosquitoes, flies, ants, slugs, triceratops, tyrannosaurus rexes, wooly mammoths, snakes, whales, dolphins, sharks, eagles and vultures made it as well, or just dogs and cats that we liked in life? Spiritual ignorance is nothing new and here we discover in John’s gospel that…
II. Not everyone knows the Truth! (Vv. 33-36)
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 indeed.
1. Now remember that Jesus was speaking to those who had “put their faith in him.” And notice how they respond to his doctrine that they had to hold on to his teaching. Like folks who try to justify their shallow faith today they retort with a truly ignorant statement, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” Of course they had been slaves to all most everyone! They were slaves to the Egyptians, slaves to the Babylonians, slaves to the Persians, Philistines, Moabites, Ammonites, Assyrians and they were now slaves to the Romans! And the great big elephant standing in the temple was that they were now slaves to their sin! This is why Jesus came, to set them free; to seek and save the lost! There are some who think that this response was from those who had not placed their faith in him, but John specifically and deliberately tells us that he was speaking to those who had “put their faith in him.” Jesus gives them the truth they needed to hear but probably would not listen to, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” Everyone sins. Everyone is a slave to the sin condition of the world! Claiming their ancestral pedigree did not excuse their spiritual ignorance. This is why Jesus responds by telling them, “Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.” Jesus wants us to fully understand that only those who would choose the truth of the gospel message, that he is indeed the Savior Messiah, would be saved. Like many today, they had no sense of their bondage to sin! Some think that since they feel they are a good person they are spiritually okay, some think that if they walk into a church once in a while they are spiritually okay, and there are those who actually think because their spouse, their parents, or some relative is a pastor, deacon, or faithful then they are spiritually okay — nothing is further from the truth! One is only set free by the one who buys your bondage, Jesus. This is why Jesus tells them, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Sadly, not everyone knows the truth!
EXAMPLE: My Dad used to say, “A shade tree mechanic is only worth the free advice he gives — nothing.” The same is true for those who give spiritual advice but know nothing of what they are talking about. The problem the Jewish people had was that they had forgotten what God desired. They were depending upon spiritual leadership that knew nothing spiritually about God. They knew how to follow their man-made rules and keep themselves wealthy while the common folk suffered. Kind of like today’s politician. People are easily fooled by birds who sing loud but who only want to feather their own nest. Their spiritual blindness is seen here in John’s gospel. Sadly, not everyone knows the truth!
Everyone needs to know the truth but not everyone knows the truth!
This article is copyrighted © 2015 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.