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Promise of the Month - July, 2005

“If you continue to obey my teaching, you are truly my followers. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:31-32 New Century Version)

As Americans we celebrate our freedom as a nation on July 4th. That freedom was bought at a high price. Soldiers from the Revolutionary War to our current War on Terror have given their lives so that America might be free.

What did Jesus mean when He said the truth can make you free?

Jesus was teaching that He is the light of the world - quite a bold claim! “I am the light of the world. The person who follows me will never live in darkness but will have the light that gives life.” (John 8:12 NCV)

Jesus was challenged about the validity of this statement and was asked why He should be believed when making such outrageous claims. Jesus explained that those listening to Him were judging Him by human standards. He claimed that His testimony was valid because it came from two witnesses: His Father (God) and Himself.

Jesus explains that He is not from this world “You are from below, I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.” (John 8:23 NIV)

The people listening still did not understand what Jesus was talking about, so He continued with a prediction. “When you have lifted up the Son of Man” [when I have been crucified and resurrected], “then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.” (John 8:27 NIV) Jesus claims that He will die, return to life, and then His claims to be the light of the world, the giver of life, will be validated.

John 8:30 tells us that some of those listening to this discussion put their faith in Him. Those listeners believed that Jesus was God, and that He did know the truth about life, death, and life after death.

To those who put their faith and trust in Jesus, He said “If you continue to obey my teaching, you are truly my followers.” (John 8:31 NCV) People who follow Jesus get to know Him; they have a relationship with Him. They talk to Him, spend time reading about Him, learn as much as they can about what pleases Him, and then out of love they obey what He teaches. Jesus makes an amazing promise to these followers, followers who continually obey. The promise requires  knowing the truth about who Jesus is, knowing the truth about the creator of life, knowing the truth about the punishment for sin, knowing the truth about Jesus’s death to take the punishment for sin, and knowing the truth about eternal life. Knowing these truths will set you free. “Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32 NCV)
Free from what? Free from the fear of death, free from the bondage of pleasing yourself and others, free from sin, and free from the punishment for sin. Before knowing Jesus and making a commitment to follow Him we are all slaves to sin. “Surely you know that when you give yourselves like slaves to obey someone, then you are really slaves of that person. The person you obey is your master. You can follow sin, which brings spiritual death, or you can obey God, which makes you right with him. In the past you were slaves to sin – sin controlled you. But thank God, you fully obeyed the things that you were taught. You were made free from sin, and now you are slaves to goodness.” (Romans 6:16-18 NCV)

We are all slaves, either slaves to doing what is wrong (sin) or slaves to doing what is right (righteousness). When you are a slave to doing what is right, obeying the teachings of Jesus, you are free from sin and possess an inner peace.

Freedom is a precious thing. Our freedom in Christ was bought at a very high price. Not the death of animals, or soldiers, but the death of God Himself. God sent His son to demonstrate how to live out love, obedience, joy, and what it means to love God. Jesus died a horrible death, but He came back to life to defeat sin and death!! He paid a very high price for our freedom from sin. When we follow Jesus, and make it the practice of our lives to obey Him and know Him, we are free; free to love, free to be joyful, and free to be full of peace, knowing we will live eternally with Him.

“If you continue to obey my teaching, you are truly my followers. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:31-32 NCV)

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