by Tom Lathrop
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36
Many of the inmates we visit at the county jail every month tell us that they are more free in jail than they are on the streets. That’s because the temptations and addictions that have enslaved them and caused them to be under the bondage of sin have been removed.
In the context of Jesus’ words about being set free, there were two things he mentioned that would set men free. Not only would the Son set us free, but Jesus laid the foundation for this freedom in verses 31-32, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
It is the truth of God’s word that can set us free. It sets us free by replacing the error in our worldly thought patterns with the truth of God’s word. But this freedom can only come in the context of being a disciple of Jesus. Being a disciple allows us to have the help of the Holy Spirit in gaining and maintaining our freedom from sin. Just reading the Bible doesn’t set you free. There must be a vibrant relationship between the disciple and his Lord. It is only the Lord who can truly set us free, but it occurs through obedience to His precepts and trusting in His promises.
The Pharisees did not understand the slavery that they were under. Jesus’ word had no place in their lives. They would not listen to Him or submit to His teaching. They even disagreed with Jesus that they had been enslaved in any way. How could they have forgotten over 400 years in slavery in Egypt and that they were currently under Roman oppression. Jesus was quick to point out that the worst kind of slavery is sin, and it’s something everyone needs to be set free from.
Jesus died on the cross to set us free from the penalty of sin. He paid the price with His own shed blood. When we trust Jesus as Lord and become His disciple, that freedom takes effect and brings about a spiritual peace that surpasses even our human understanding. Thus begins the process of our sanctification whereby we are being set free from the power of sin in our everyday lives as we abide in God’s word and follow His commands.
Ultimately we will be set free from the very presence of sin when we are glorified in our new bodies. What a joy this will be to eternally experience the absence of sin and the realization of God’s holiness and righteousness. In the present though, sin is deceitful; it crouches at the door; it’s pleasurable; and it’s enslaving; and through prayer we gain the help of the Holy Spirit in conjunction with the word of God to keep us from the snares of our adversary. Have you been set free?