There are various types of freedom: freedoms granted through our government and our constitution, including the freedom to practice religious beliefs of all kinds. This is one form of religious freedom…so important, in fact, that the first article in the Bill of Rights addresses freedom of religion. So, if we want to understand our constitutional freedoms, we should go back to the Bible to understand the source of true freedom. While it’s good to remind ourselves of the freedoms guaranteed by the state and government, it’s an excellent time to remind ourselves of the freedoms God has given us in his living word.
How are we liberated by Jesus to enjoy the freedoms he guarantees? In today’s reading, we are told very explicitly that “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” How does our freedom come from Jesus?
- Jesus has a unique relationship with the Father.
- Jesus has been with his faithful from even before Abraham.
- Jesus uses language that only the Messiah could use and demonstrates his power as proof.
Jesus says that to know him is to know the truth, and the truth will set you free. The Jews, prior to Jesus’ arrival, thought the truth was the law, and that the study of the law thus made a person free. Jesus said: If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.
Truth is revealed by God. Jesus himself is truth because he is God’s ultimate revelation. Knowing truth is not about knowing laws but knowing the person. That’s why we now focus on the living word instead of the Old Testament laws.
Knowing Jesus broadens our minds, increases our insights, and widens our understanding. When we seek the truth, we seek a closer relationship with Jesus. This gives us the ability to understand freedom in the world as provided by governments and, more importantly, the freedom to investigate freedom in the spiritual realm.
Without Jesus we are slaves to sin. With Jesus we are truly and unquestionably free. Here are all the ways we can understand and recognize Jesus-given freedoms:
- We are free from shame. Jesus sets us free from guilt and shame through his death and the forgiveness that brought us.
- We are free from addiction. We are no longer slaves to sin, although as imperfect people, we may fail from time to time.
- We are free from fear. Jesus has set us free from all fears as by his death he broke the power of death over us. Satan has no hold on us, and we are promised eternal life. Death is not the end for those who Jesus has set free. It is the gateway to heaven.
- We are free to know God. Jesus has enabled us to have a direct relationship with the Father just as he does. If we belong to God we can hear what he says and understand his plan for us.
- We are free to be ourselves. As unique children of the Father we do not need to mimic or emulate anyone else. We are special…each one of us.
- We are free to love. This is the opposite of the self-centeredness that comes from sin. And Jesus has given us that encouragement when he told us to love others as he loved us.
While we may be concerned over our social, political, and constitutional freedoms, we have the assurance from Jesus himself that we are and will be free in him.
v36: “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”