Tag Archive | "sayings of Jesus"

The Truth Shall Make You Free

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Other than a child, you will probably have trouble finding someone who has never heard of Adam and Eve.  People all over the world know at least some Biblical names, words or sayings.  One well-known saying from the Bible is “the truth shall make you free.”  These words were spoken by the Lord Jesus and come from John 8:32 (KJV), where we read:

 

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

 

Very often, the second part of this verse is quoted as “the truth will set you free.”  That’s how it’s translated in the NIV.  These words don’t mean the same thing to everyone. 

 

As we try to understand this verse, we should be aware that there is not even general agreement on the meaning of truth.  Some people may tell you that truth for one person is not truth for someone else, or that truth depends on the situation.  Perhaps Pontius Pilate’s thinking was something like that.

 

 
What is Truth?

 

In John 18, we read about the Lord standing before the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, waiting to be sentenced.  Pilate asked the Lord several questions.  The one that is perhaps most memorable is recorded in John 18:38:

 

Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.

 

The Lord never gave Pilate an answer to that question; but He answered it for us even before Pilate asked it.  We find the answer in John 17, where God has recorded for us the words the Lord Jesus prayed shortly before leaving the upper room where He and His disciples ate the Passover meal.  Of course, the Lord knew what Pilate would ask even before he asked it several hours later.  In John 17:17 we find the answer to Pilate’s question:

 

Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

 

God’s word is truth, and the Bible is God’s word.  It is God’s word that sanctifies.   However, the Lord Jesus himself is also identified as the Word of God, as in John 1:1-3:

 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

 

God used the same Greek word (Strong’s number G3056, “logos”) in both John 17:17 and John 1:1 to tell us about the “word.”  Also, if we check a concordance for the word translated in John 17:17 as “sanctify,” we find that it can mean “to separate and dedicate to God,” or “to purify.”  This is what God reveals about the power of His word.  It’s what He does when He uses His word to save a person.  Romans 10:17 is a verse that helps us understand how God uses His word:

 

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.    

 

This verse tells us that God uses His word to impart faith to the hearer –if that person is one of God’s elect.  In other words, God uses His word to save people.  They are sanctified by the truth, and it’s in the Bible that we find truth.

 

Free From What?

 

Most of the world doesn’t accept the Bible as the exact word of God.  They don’t accept it as truth.  Even those who think there is at least some truth in the Bible are, in most cases, far from understanding it.  They don’t understand what the Lord meant when He said the truth shall set you free.

 

A number of educational institutions, both famous and not so famous, have used all or some of the verse from which those words are taken  – John 8:32 – as inscriptions on their buildings.  For example, the seal ofJohnsHopkinsUniversityhas the words “Veritas Vos Liberabit.”   That’s Latin for “the truth will set you free.”

 

Johns Hopkins is famous for its scientific research, and science has certainly freed people from much ignorance.  As knowledge has increased and as education has become widely available, life has improved for many people all over the world.  They have been freed from many difficult circumstances to live better lives.  If you ask enough people to explain how the truth can set you free, you are likely to hear something like that as an explanation.

 

Among Christian church members, you may hear that God’s truth frees people from fear or bondage to harmful superstitions, customs or habits.  As an extreme example, we know that among some peoples human sacrifice was considered necessary to appease angry gods.   Such practices are clearly against Biblical teaching.  In many cultures that have been exposed to the Bible, customs and laws have changed to prohibit such things.  Individuals have been helped by the Bible to overcome sinful behavior, such as addictions.  And entire nations benefit when its people understand that they are to be subject to their government – even praying for their leaders, and that bribery causes corruption and is against God’s law. 

 

All of these are ways in which truth has served to free people from difficult circumstances and greatly improve their lives; but is this what the Lord Jesus meant when He spoke of knowing the truth and being made free?  When we find such a statement in the Bible, we can be certain it has a specific meaning that concerns the Gospel or God’s salvation plan.  To understand what that meaning is, we must compare the verse in question with other verses.

 

We can begin by considering verses having the word “free.”  A concordance helps here.  If we check a concordance to find the Greek translated “make free,” as in the words “the truth shall make you free,” we find that it is Strong’s number G1659: “eleutheroo.”  We find that word used in Galatians 5:1:

 

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

 

If you continue reading Galatians 5 after this verse, you find that it concerns freedom from the law.   How are we to understand this freedom? 

 

We must remember that besides the moral laws, the Bible contains numerous ceremonial laws.   They concerned animal sacrifices, trips toJerusalem, and other requirements.  Even the fourth commandment (Exodus 20:8-11) must be understood as part of the ceremonial law.  It’s a sign pointing to the Lord Jesus.  Christians are not required to keep any ceremonial laws: they are now free from them.

 

Other verses having the word “eleutheroo” help us understand the most important freedom of all.  In Romans 6:18, we read:

 

Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.   

 

God, through His word, makes His elect free from sin.  He frees them from Satan’s kingdom and brings them into thekingdomofGod(Colossians 1:13).  This is the freedom to which the Lord Jesus referred in John 8:36:

 

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

 

God’s word is truth; but the Lord Jesus is identified as “the Word.”  Therefore, a logical conclusion is that the Lord Jesus makes us free.  And that is what we read in the preceding verse.

 

God’s word can bring many different blessings into our lives, but the most important one is the one we read about in Romans 6:22:

 

But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

 

We know that when God saved a person, He paid for every sin that person ever committed or would ever commit in his or her entire life.  In that way, God’s children appear before Him as being free from sin.

 

Freedom from sin means freedom from the law’s penalty for sin.  The Bible reveals that this penalty is death.  Even God’s children are subject to physical death.  However, only they inherit everlasting life after death.  For the non-elect, death is the end.  It’s as if they never existed.  That is the penalty for sin under God’s law, and freedom from this penalty is God’s gift to His children.  It is the ultimate freedom, His ultimate gift, and His ultimate blessing.

 

 

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