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As we look forward to celebrating Independence Day this weekend, and the freedoms that were fought for and won by those that have gone before us, I want to encourage you to spend some time contemplating what freedom truly is.
- What is truth?
- What is freedom?
- Are there different kinds of freedom?
- Is there a freedom that is of utmost importance?
I want to look at John 8:31-32 and see what we can learn about freedom.
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32 ESV
Let’s look at some words and phrases used in these verses and see what we can learn and apply to our lives.
“Abide in my word”
Abide – what does it mean to abide? Here is how the Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines abide:
to be, or exist, to continue; to dwell, rest, continue, stand firm, or be stationary for anytime indefinitely.
1. To rest, or dwell. Genesis 29:19.
2. To tarry or stay for a short time. Genesis 24:55.
3. To continue permanently or in the same state; to be firm and immovable. Psalms 119:90.
4. To remain, to continue. Acts 27:31. Ecclesiastes 8:15.
Now that we know what “abide” means, what “word” is Jesus talking about? He is referring to the written word of God, the Bible. Jesus Himself is also referred to as the “Word”. So from these verses we can learn that we are to “abide in His word”. We are to rest, to dwell, to be firm and immovable, to remain, to continue, in the Bible and in Jesus (the Word).
How do we do that?
First, we cannot abide in Jesus unless we have repented and accepted Jesus’ sacrifice for our sin, making him the Lord of our life.
We are also to abide in His Word – the written Word, the Bible. The Bible is the story of redemption – God’s instruction manual for our life. The more we “abide” in the Bible, the more we learn about Jesus. The more we learn about Jesus, the more we love Him, are drawn to worship and obey Him, and become more like Him. We abide in the Bible by setting aside time to read it, study it, dwell on it, memorize it.
This verse says that only those that believe in Him and abide in His Word are “truly” His disciples. That gives the impression that if you do not do these things then you are not truly His disciple.
Let’s look at the definition of the word “truly”, again in the Webster’s 1828 Dictionary:
TRULY, In fact; in deed; in reality.
1. According to truth; in agreement with fact; as, to see things truly; the facts are truly represented.
2. Sincerely; honestly; really; faithfully; as, to be truly attached to a lover. The citizens are truly loyal to their prince or their country.
3. Exactly; justly; as, to estimate truly the weight of evidence.
So “truly” is according to truth, in agreement with fact. So what is truth? Let’s look at that next.
People often express their opinions on various matters and after they have said what they want to say, they end with these words; “And that’s my truth.” Since it is their truth, they have the right to live by their truth regardless of other people’s truth. But there is a problem with that. It isn’t Biblical at all!
Let’s look at the definition of “truth” in the Webster’s 1828 Dictionary:
1. Conformity to fact or reality; exact accordance with that which is, or has been, or shall be. The truth of history constitutes its whole value. We rely on the truth of the scriptural prophecies.
My mouth shall speak truth Proverbs 8:7.
Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth John 17:17.
2. Conformity of words to thoughts, which is called moral truth
Shall truth fail to keep her word?
3. Jesus Christ is called the truth John 14.
Truth is not based on opinions. Our feelings do not establish truth. All of us have our opinions, but opinions are not truth. We may know lots of facts, but there is a difference between facts and truth. Facts are what we know now — they are temporary. On the other hand, truth is what was known in the past, remains true today, and will be true in the future. Truth is eternal and immutable. Truth does not change.
Jesus said that He is the truth. He is eternal. He does not change and His words do not change. Jesus IS the truth. People are not the truth – we are temporary. However, Jesus said that we can know the truth and knowing the truth will make us free. When we know Jesus, we trust and depend on His words. If we know the truth we will be free. There is only one truth and Jesus is that truth. Get to know Jesus. Then you will have the truth. Your truth will be THE truth which is Jesus Christ.
Above we learned what the word Truth is referring to, so now it is important to understand that it is the Truth that will set us free! Nothing else will give us the freedom that these verses talk about. What kind of freedom is that? The freedom Jesus offers is a spiritual freedom from the bondage of sin, its penalty, and its power over us.
Jesus is the Truth (John 14:6). Knowing the Truth will set you free — free from sin, free from condemnation, and free from death (Romans 6:22; 8:1–2). Jesus came to proclaim freedom to the captives (Luke 4:18). He came to set people free!
How to Apply This to My Life
You would be blind and deaf if you did not see and hear the cries ringing out in our country and in countries around the world for “FREEDOM!”. Our God-given rights are being threatened and in some cases violated. People hungry for power are acting as tyrants — following hard after their own sinful desires. Which causes the people to rise up to protest and fight for their freedoms.
While fighting to keep our God-given freedoms is the right thing to do, over the past several months I have wrestled with the Lord on how this “activism” fits into His plan.
How does “fighting for our freedoms” rank in importance to the need for people to experience true freedom that only Jesus can bring?
So much energy and money has gone into fighting to keep our freedoms — freedoms that the government not only thinks it can, but does take away sometimes. Is the only true freedom that Jesus can give being lost in the shuffle?
- True freedom is found in repentance of sin and acceptance of Jesus’ free gift of salvation.
- True freedom is not something that anyone can take away!
- True freedom is not something we have to fight to keep.
- True freedom can not be “won” by anything that we do.
We are headed into election season and many of us are spending time doing our part in fighting to retain our freedoms. But I want to challenge each of us to consider these things:
- What am I doing to help those around me experience the true freedom that only Jesus can give?
- Do I have the same passion to share the Gospel with others so they can have true freedom?
- Do I use my money, time, and talents to advance the Gospel through my personal life, my local church and other Christian ministries?
- Do I have the same grief over lost souls as I do over lost “freedoms”?
- Do I need to recalibrate my life to find balance in this area?
Please understand that I am not putting down the important battle for our freedoms. The reason that we, in the United States, are able to share the Gospel freely is because of the freedoms that we have.
But I challenge you to consider the things I have shared today and ask Jesus to help you have the same passion for sharing the Gospel with others, so they can experience the only true freedom that will never be taken away.