Man is enslaved to sin, guilt, fear, sadness and death. No man can free himself or another. However, Jesus proclaimed to men, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised” (Luke 4:18; cf. Isaiah 61:1).
In John 8:31–36, Jesus revealed how he would free man from his bondage: “31Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. 33They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? 34Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. 35And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. 36If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”
“You shall know the truth,” said Jesus. What then is “the truth” that we shall know? In the Gospel of John, the word “truth” frequently refers to Christ and His words. John wrote in John 1:14 concerning Christ, that “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth”. He again affirmed in John 1:17 that “grace and truth came by Jesus Christ”. When Jesus spoke about John the Baptist who had prepared the way for Him, He said that “he bare witness unto the truth” (John 5:33). Now, the truth that John the Baptist bore witness unto was Christ, for Jesus Himself said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life”.
The words of the Lord Jesus Christ are also referred to as “the truth”. Just before assuring the believing Jews that “ye shall know the truth”, He had told them in John 8:31, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed”. Hence, it is this very continuing in Christ’s words that will help believers to know the truth. Christ is the Truth – the truth personified! Being the source of all truth and the embodiment of the truth, His words grant His people the knowledge of His truth.
Continuing in Christ’s words brings us into a relationship with Him as His disciples which enables us to truly know Him who is “the truth”. As true disciples of Christ, we are to walk in the truth (3 John 3), love the truth, and believe the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12). We are also to speak “the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). When we abide in the knowledge of Christ and His words, we possess the truth that shall make us free indeed.
Later in His conversation with the Jewish hearers, Jesus told them that they needed freedom as they were under the shackles of sin. In no uncertain terms, Jesus told them, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin” (John 8:34). The servitude to sin is the most grievous bondage, far worse than any other kind of political or social servitude (cf. v. 33). Hence, freedom from sin’s influence and guilt is the greatest freedom!
As we abide in Christ and His truth, we shall experience true freedom from the slavery of sinful cravings, inordinate passions, degrading vices and all carnal propensities. Our yielding to the truth of Christ will grant us deliverance and freedom from all awful errors that once subjugated us.
Here Jesus, first of all, directs our attention to the fact that He is the “Son”. By using the title “Son”, He wanted to draw our attention to the fact that He is the undisputed Heir of all things, who wields the ultimate authority and power concerning all matters, even to free a man from his servitude. So in the preceding verse, He had said, “And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever” (John 8:35). As the only begotten Son of God, Christ enjoys unchallenged, eternal right to exercise the full authority vested in Him by the Father to liberate slaves. Jesus Himself said in John 3:35, “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.” Only Christ, the Son, has the power and freedom to liberate us from everything that shackles us.
In fact, the Old Testament prophet Isaiah had predicted that when the Messiah, the Son of God, comes, He will liberate those who have been under the repression of Satan, sin and death (cf. Isaiah 61:1-3). Jesus, citing that prophecy, said in Luke 4:18 that He was sent in the power of the Spirit “to set at liberty them that are bruised”.
Christ alone has the ability to grant freedom. Since the Fall of Adam, all men are born slaves to sin, without the power to deliver themselves. Only by the gracious bestowment of freedom by the Son of God can one ever obtain one’s freedom. So our freedom is a benefit conferred by Christ which we obtain by faith. By His Spirit, He liberates our souls so that we may gain freedom from sin and continue in that freedom. Thus Paul testified in Romans 8:2, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” Regarding the freedom He grants us, Jesus says, “ye shall be free indeed”. An emphasis is placed on the word “indeed”. His freedom is not some unreal, foolish figment of imagination.
Many today are like the Jews whom Jesus rebuked for claiming that they were never in bondage and had always been free. They boastfully say that they are free to do whatever they like to do. They do not acknowledge that they are actually under the wretched bondage of sin.
Nonetheless, we who follow Christ and His truth rejoice to take heed of the admonition of the apostle Paul to “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1).