We value freedom in America. We also know freedom is not free; it comes with a high price. Many have made huge sacrifices to protect and preserve the freedoms we enjoy in this great country. But freedom, an “American” ideal, was God’s idea. In John 8, we get a beautiful picture of the kind of freedom God had in mind… the real freedom that comes only in and through Jesus Christ.
31 ….Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”… 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:31-32; 8:36
How can we experience real freedom?
1. Escape the suffocating grip of sin in your life by receiving God’s amazing grace. (John 8:2-11)
John 8 opens with one of the most poignant and powerful narratives in the entire Bible; the story of the woman caught in the tight grip of sexual sin. Jesus was willing to set her free from her sin, and He’s willing to do the same for you and me.
As the religious leaders did their best to put Jesus in a no-win situation, forcing Jesus to choose between breaking the Mosaic law or the Roman law, He divinely turned the situation inside out with just one statement… 7 …“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7b
After everyone dropped their stones and walked away, knowing they weren’t in any position to cast stones, Jesus turned his attention to the woman. The truth is, this woman had sinned, egregiously; nobody would deny that. So what did she need in that moment? She needed grace and mercy, and Jesus compassionately offered it. He didn’t condemn her, He forgave her.
But Jesus doesn’t offer grace and mercy without expectations. What did He tell this woman? 11 …“Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:11b. The theological term for that is “repentance;” that is a 180 degree turn in the other direction. Jesus wanted this woman to leave her sinful lifestyle.
You may be in the grip of a lifestyle of sin too. Maybe it’s like this woman’s adulterous lifestyle; maybe it’s an addictive lifestyle; maybe it’s a lifestyle of excess for you… eating or spending or drinking far too much. Maybe it is a lifestyle of neglect… not caring for those who count on you or not taking your responsibilities seriously.
Whatever lifestyle of sin you find yourself in, chances are you have bought in to a lie. Satan is a master of deception and rationalization is one of his favorite tools. You may be telling yourself, “It’s no big deal; it’s not hurting anyone; nobody knows; it’s my little secret; I deserve this…” To this point, you have been rationalizing it. To rationalize is to accept as truth what amounts to a “rational lie.” Jesus would say, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (Ephesians 4:21-24)
In Christ, we get a fresh, new start. We are truly free when we accept His amazing grace and, with His power, escape the suffocating grip of sin in our lives.
2. Choose to faithfully follow Jesus and receive the light of life!
12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
Light has tremendous significance in the Old Testament, and those who heard Jesus make this powerful declaration knew that. Jesus’ listeners that day, and us today, have two potential responses: We can choose to faithfully follow Jesus as fully devoted disciples and experience the light of life… or we can choose to reject Him and live in spiritual darkness. Seems like a no brainer to me; how ‘bout you?
3. Believe Jesus is Savior and avoid the ultimate penalty of disobedience.
24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.” John 8:24
What is the one fatal, unforgivable and eternal sin? Failure to believe in Jesus as Savior. The truth is, all other sins can be forgiven if you repent from this one. Do you believe? The religious leaders still would not believe, but… 30 Even as he spoke, many believed in him. John 8:30.
It is really encouraging to me that, even in that dark and toxic environment with major influencers firmly against Him, many believed in him. The truth is, we live in a pretty dark time too, but if you believe, be encouraged! There are still many in your sphere of influence who are hungry for truth and want desperately to experience real freedom… not political freedom, or social freedom, or physical freedom, but spiritual freedom. Real, eternal freedom comes only through Jesus Christ!
4. Hold firmly to Jesus’ teaching! (John 8:31-32;36)
True discipleship is more than some intellectual assent, going to church occasionally, or knowing about Jesus. Authentic followers, disciples of Jesus, “hold to” His teaching. They not only accept Jesus’ teachings as truth, but they faithfully obey it. (James 3:17)
True disciples not only know the Word, they live the Word of the Lord; they walk daily in the light of life. It may seem contrary to say that obedience equals freedom, but with Jesus, it absolutely does.
For much more, click here to listen to: Light in the Darkness - Part 8 - How to Experience Real Freedom.