One famous statement made by Jesus is found in John 8:32, where He says “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”. Now these words spoken by Jesus have been repeated and re-used for all kinds of things. It is quoted in churches all across the world, but what is it really saying? What are we free from? How are we made free?
I have spoken with many people who recite the words that they have been made free, but are still very much bound. I have lived that way myself for many years! It happens because of sheer ignorance a lot of times… So what I want to share with you today, is the truth about the truth… the truth that Jesus spoke of, the truth that will actually make you free – and everything that means. So today, you can say that you are free, and actually know what it is that you are saying. So that you can truly be free, and not just be reciting empty words. You shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free.
Let’s start today, by reading Jesus statement, in the context of the surrounding verses. John 8:31-36:
“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed;
And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how say you, You shall be made free?
Jesus answered them, Truly, truly, I say to you, Whoever commits sin is the servant of sin.
And the servant stays not in the house for ever: but the Son stays ever.
If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.”
Okay right in verse 31, we see that Jesus was speaking to Jews which believed on Him, this phrasing is quite interesting – these are not called believers outright, but Jews which believed… this becomes more clear as the conversation progresses later on in the chapter… then He says if you continue in my word, then you are my disciples indeed; then His famous line in verse 32, and you shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free.
So we must first ask the question, what does it mean to “continue in His word?”. There are some people today who think that it means to go on into “new and deeper truths”, and so they go on a grand quest for knowledge, and run around from one thing to the next and become so spiritually busy – and before they know it they have completely missed the point of it all and sacrificed their relationship with God, for just a new kind of works and service. They’ve wrapped New Covenant language and ideas around the Old Covenant system of performance, and it’s still just as dead. It’s the same old Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil from the Garden of Eden, just re-packaged for our modern mind, but the result is the same… death.
Please understand that I am not against knowledge, specifically knowledge of Jesus, but that is not the type of knowledge that’s generally being presented today. Please hear what I am saying and hear my heart on this because it’s a fairly insidious trap that’s out there in the world today. Knowledge of Jesus is knowledge about who He is, what He has done, His finished work for you, and who you are today in Him – in the light of His finished work. That is knowledge of Jesus; however, much of the knowledge out there today has the finished work of Christ off on the side somewhere and the main focus is back on our own works, our own performance, how we can “better ourselves” or “live more holy, righteous pleasing lives” and we’ve completely forgotten the point that, no we couldn’t – that’s why Jesus came and why He had to die! If we could do any of those things, Jesus died for nothing! That was Paul’s whole point in Galatians 2:21: if we could attain righteousness through our performance by the Old Covenant Law, then Jesus died in vain!
So Jesus says here in our verse of John 8:31, to those Jews who believed If you continue in my word, then you are my disciples indeed. Now the word “continue” there is the same word used for “abide”, to make a home in, and to live in it as a house. What’s Jesus saying here? If you abide in my word, if you make my word your home, if you live in my word as a house, then you will be My disciples.
Now, even though that’s clearer, many people still don’t get it, because we have a distorted view of His word many times as well. Some people think that this means we need to get into all sorts of Bible reading plans, and daily devotionals, and Bible conferences… I’m not saying that those things are out-and-out evil or wrong, but this scripture isn’t talking about reading your Bible 24/7, or even listening to sermons being preached all the time… it is actually talking about a true personal relationship with Jesus – and in a lot of ways, we have missed it!
Jesus is saying here to these Jews who believed: Listen, the way to really be My disciple and learn of me, is to live in Me, make Me your house, abide in Me. Jesus wasn’t talking about the Bible here. The Bible didn’t even exist when Jesus said these words! But 7 chapters prior to this, in John 1:1 we see that Jesus is the eternal Word of God, manifested in the flesh. Jesus is the Word. Please understand this; please see this distinction. Your Bible is Not Jesus. The book that you hold in your hand and have sitting on your desk was not whipped and beaten and broken and hung on a cross for your sins. Jesus was.
The Bible is a collection of books and letters, historical records and prophecies, and eye-witness accounts of people, divinely inspired, and protected and preserved over the years, and they are absolutely profitable for doctrine, correction, instruction for righteousness, and your Bible absolutely does contain the words of God but the Bible itself is not “the Word” – that title belongs to none other than Jesus Himself.
So Jesus here is saying to live in Him, abide in Him, let Him surround you; and then you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. The word for “know” in verse 32, is an intimate, personal knowing. The kind that two lovers would have, even… don’t let that freak you out, there’s nothing weird going on here, Jesus is simply painting a picture saying that nothing will be able to separate you from God. There’s no division, no veil, no partition between you and Him any longer.
You see, we’ve sold the Gospel way short, and we’ve sold the finished work of Christ way short as well. Jesus didn’t die just so that we could simply pray a prayer and go to Heaven one day after we’ve suffered our years on the earth and died.
No, He died so that we who were dead in our trespasses and sin and cut off from the intimate relationship with the Father, could have His Spirit of Life breathed into us once again and we could have our identity and relationship restored and once again be in complete unhindered fellowship with God once again.
Now remember, these were Jews. They knew the Law, they were raised in it, they memorized it, they were taught the Law from childhood. But here Jesus said that if they continued in His word, then they would have intimacy with the truth, and the truth would make them free.
The Law was true, but it was not the Truth that would make them free.
Of-course we know that Jesus was again speaking of Himself, He is the Truth. He doesn’t just bring you truth, no, He is the Truth. They however did not understand this, and in verse 33, they make the claim that they were never in-bondage to any man… which is not entirely true, they were in-bondage to one man: themselves. Jesus points this out in verse 34 by saying:
“Jesus answered them, Truly, truly, I say to you, Whoever commits sin is the servant of sin”
Now, when you read this verse, you need to know that Jesus did not use the verb for sin here; He’s not talking about sinful actions… that’s just the outer layer, that’s what the Pharisees were focused on, outward things. But Jesus here used the noun form of the word for sin… He’s talking about the root of the matter: the place that you were in. Each of us without Christ, are in the place of unrighteousness, we are in the place of sin and death, apart from God and cut-off.
Unfortunately in this verse, the King James Version renders the phrase as “commit sin” and newer translations say it is “practicing sin” however, the Greek word for that, really means “to make or produce” – it’s the exact same word Jesus used in Matthew 7:17-19 about the good and bad tree bringing forth fruit. And when we hear that parable we get all fruit-oriented and we become grade-A fruit inspectors and think that it’s all about the fruit, when in-fact the fruit is the end-result and the whole point Jesus was making was not about the fruit but about the tree! The bad tree cannot bear good fruit, no matter how hard it tries, it’s an impossibility, it cannot. Likewise the good tree cannot bear bad fruit. So the whole point, the central-focus really isn’t the fruit, but it’s what kind of tree you are.
So here in our scripture of John 8:34, Jesus is talking about the place of sin, and he says whoever produces from a place of sin, they are in bondage to it, they are slaves of sin.
Then He goes on to say in verses 35 and 36, something that really hits home for His Jewish listeners:
“And the servant stays not in the house for ever: but the Son stays ever.
If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed”
Jesus says that a servant does not stay in the house forever, but the Son does. Why is this so important? Because everyone who is under the Law, is a servant and is engendered to bondage (Galatians 4:24), but Jesus came to make people sons of God and co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).
Therefore, whoever is set free by the Son, Jesus the Christ, is most definitely free!
Sadly, many people today claim the name of Christ, but are still very much in bondage to sin and to themselves because they don’t understand this reality that we are studying today. They have never been taught this. They’ve been sold a lie, and became the victim of a false narrative, that salvation is nothing more than reciting a sinner’s prayer and then hanging out here and waiting for the heaven-bus to come when you die.
People don’t understand that when Jesus was put on that cross, He wasn’t there suffering for His own sins, He was suffering for yours and mine. He wasn’t up there as His own identity, He was up there as your old identity. The person that you were (the unrighteous, dirty sinner) died on that cross (Romans 6:6-11). That is not who you are anymore!
Jesus took your old identity, and all of your sin, straight to the cross, and your old person was crucified dead and buried.
The person you are today is righteous and holy, and free from sin for all time because your identity today is that of Christ Jesus Himself!
Jesus became your old identity on the cross, so that you could become His identity forevermore! That is the Gospel! That is the truth you are to live! And that is the truth that makes you free!
Don’t fall into the legalistic, Pharisaical trap of trying to earn what only Jesus can give. Don’t try to become what He has already made you to be. It’s not works that make you free. It’s not service or sacrifice that makes you free, it’s not even Bible reading that make you free – a lot of people read their Bible very religiously and they are still as dead as a stump. It’s only the truth that makes you free… it’s Jesus.
John 14:6, Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. And remember He doesn’t just show you the Way, no He is the Way. A lot of people think that Jesus shows them a method, or a set of rules, or a behavioral guide for good living… Please don’t reduce the Life of the Savior to a behavioral guide. He didn’t come to modify your behaviors to make you behave better. He didn’t come to make bad people good, He came to make dead people live. He came to restore our relationship to the Father and put His Spirit back into us! He came to restore and redeem us back to Himself!
Jesus is the Truth. He doesn’t just tell us truth, He is truth! No truth exists apart from Him. We haven’t even barely scratched the surface of everything that means.
Jesus also is the Life. He doesn’t just bring you Life and say “Look, there it is!” No He is Life. And indeed, without Him, we would all be dead.
This is how Jesus makes you free. By showing you the truth of Himself. What He has done for you, and who you are in Him. He has redeemed you and made you a completely new creation! Who you were is dead and gone. You are no longer a sinner; you are a son! Your identity is that of the very righteousness of Jesus Christ! Now live in that truth every day. Abide in that truth! Enjoy the intimate relationship of Jesus Christ and His Spirit.