To the Jews who had believed in him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.  . . . Everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  (John 8: 31, 34-36)

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  (2 Cor 3:17)

 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  . . . The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.  . . .You were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly with love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” . . . Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.  (Gal 5: 1, 6, 13-14, 16-18)

 

“Freedom” is one word with many meanings, often at odds with each other. We can see ourselves as free to love or free to hate; free to take or free to give, free from constraints or free to accept responsibility.

When freedom is a demand, it can be either a legitimate cry for equality or a cover for the need to be in control, without concern for the wider consequences.

Jesus lived and taught a different kind of freedom. If you want to be free, He said, you first have to be able to distinguish between truth and lies. That begins with knowing God, and not just knowing about God. It comes with understanding that God is truth, and Jesus is the embodiment of that same truth.  Truth, like God, doesn’t change to reflect cultural norms. Though humans keep trying to shoot holes in it, God’s truth is bulletproof. It’s as reliable and unassailable as He is.

Knowing the truth frees us from believing lies, which are Satan’s primary weapon. As we learn it, absorb it and live it, God’s truth releases us from the tentacles of deception. Keeping ourselves accountable to God and in close relationship with Him helps us guard against the infiltration of lies.

If knowing that God is truth is essential, we also need to know our enemy. Jesus described Satan’s relationship with the truth in John 8:44: “He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Satan’s biggest lie — that we are free to be our own God — is the one that appeals most to our human nature, and is the most soul-destroying.

Satan will also incorporate a little truth to entice us into believing a big lie. He’ll cherry-pick Scripture out of its context in ways designed to weaponize it, and aren’t consistent with God’s whole Word. He’ll also encourage us to do the same in disputes with each other.

We can count on Satan to lie to us, but we’re also quite capable of lying to ourselves. That’s why James warns us, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (1:22)  When we’re intent on hearing the Word, growing in it and doing it, then we will be free to be blessed.

Jesus set us free from the eternal consequences of our sinful nature so that we could live in freedom from the continuing power of that nature. In this world, freedom is not a one-off. One war has never been sufficient to ensure lasting political freedom. A single monetary gain has never guaranteed ongoing financial freedom.  The cure of a solitary illness does not equate to a disease-free existence. It’s by continuing in the Holy Spirit that we maintain and guard our freedom in Christ.

What freedom really comes down to is a foundational choice between truth and lies, between God and Satan. Lies can’t give us any of the freedom they promise; they just drive us farther into slavery.

The lie that freedom means doing what we want is an invitation to a life that gradually crumbles and finally crashes. The truth that freedom comes from doing what is right in God’s sight is the door to authentic and abundant life.

It’s this freedom God wants for every person, the freedom He sent Jesus to secure. It’s the freedom from slavery to sin in our lives. It’s the freedom to love fully in relationship with Him. It’s the freedom to serve God and others with a willing heart. It’s the freedom to confess and repent when we regress. It’s the freedom to know the glorious hope of everlasting life with Him. It’s the freedom to choose our eternal destiny.

Truth or lies: we’re free to choose. What we’re not free to choose are the consequences of making the wrong choices.

Father, deliver us from deception and help us to choose truth, to choose life, to choose freedom in Christ.