The Truth Will Make You Free
Jesus told His disciples: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”(John 8:32) The truth makes men free in several ways. Truth about natural law frees us from ignorance and superstition. Truth in history frees us from distorted world views. Truth about health and diet frees us from some diseases. And we could go on with a long list about truth and freedom.
But Jesus was talking about Himself. Jesus is the embodiment of truth. He reveals what we need to know in order to live successful lives. Jesus is the source of truth and freedom.
He revealed that self-righteousness is not the way to please God. Of all the people Jesus interacted with during His life on earth, the Pharisees caught the most negative statements from Jesus. What was their problem? They thought they could make themselves righteous through their knowledge of the law and traditions, by being nit pickers about infinitely small details of the law like tithing herbs. But meanwhile they were robbing widows of their property, and encouraging children to neglect their parents. They thought they had the law all figured out, but they did not understand that love and mercy is the foundation of the law.
Like the Pharisees, some people today try to make the new covenant of life in Jesus into something like what the Pharisees were following. By human logic, such men make arguments that produce strife and bondage among those who follow their teaching. They are self deceived, believing themselves to be champions of truth, just like the Pharisees. Their rules and regulations take the place of the real commandments of God, just as did the traditions taught by the Pharisees. And just like the Pharisees, such men try to destroy those who will not follow them. They do not crucify their opposition on a physical cross, but seek to destroy them by slander and hateful attacks.
Some of these binders of human tradition claim that Jesus was talking about knowing all the right doctrine on what the scriptures teach when He said that knowing the truth would set us free. But slavery to human tradition is not freedom. And trying to justify ourselves by keeping all the rules someone teaches only produces slavery. Rules do not produce freedom. The Law of Moses proved that for all time.
Freedom is the result of being rescued from slavery. Freedom is being set free from the bondage of sin. It is by knowing Jesus that we receive freedom. We learn about Jesus in the Bible, by study of the scriptures. When we understand who Jesus is, we can come to Him for freedom from sin and from bondage to human traditions. We can come to Him to be set free. Then we should keep ourselves free by trusting in Jesus for life, and by refusing to come under bondage to rules made by men.
As Paul told the Galatian Christians, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.” (Gal 5:1-6, NKJ)
Yes, we are free because of faith working through love. First the love of God for us, then our love for the God who loves us, and then our love for each other because we are children of God. Following the doctrines of men produces hatred and strife, but the love of God in Jesus Christ produces freedom.