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“. . . and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).

FREEDOM IS AN IDEA THAT RESONATES IN EVERY HUMAN HEART. We all long to be free. Many forces trap us and hold us back, but which one of our problems is the slavemaster that has harmed us the most? According to Jesus, it is sin. Whatever else may bind us, the practice of departing from what we know is our Creator’s will is our worst problem. If we’re old enough to know right from wrong, we’ve all been guilty of it over and over again. And sin is not a master we can simply decide to walk away from anytime we wish. On our own, we are helpless to repair the damage. Jesus said, “Everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin” (John 8:34).

But Jesus did more than just diagnose the problem. As the Son of God, He not only identified the central problem of the human race; He proposed to fix it Himself. He said that He would make us free. And He would not just make us free; He would give us a freedom that was abundant and everlasting. He said, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).

But Jesus was very clear as to where the problem came from: it came from deception. Mankind never would have sinned if it had not believed the devil’s lie (Genesis 3:1–6; Revelation 12:9); so the only path out of sin is the path that leads us back to the truth. Truth — and particularly the truth about God — must be put back in its place. If not, the problem of sin will just get worse and worse.

So Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” But I must be frank: if we are to be set free from our sins, it is not just truth about the world (or even truth about God’s plan of salvation) that we must accept. It is the truth about ourselves. The prospects for our future reality can never improve until we accept the bitter facts about our present reality. “The difference between life as it is and life as it ought to be is a frightening and distressing bit of reality” (James C. Dobson). Coming to terms with the full, ugly truth about who we really are and what we’ve really done is hard, but there is no other way to salvation. Jesus deals in facts. He intends to do far more than soothe our feelings with a heartfelt “religion” that says, “You’re fine just as you are.”

“Jesus Christ makes us real, not merely sincere” (Oswald Chambers).

Gary Henry — +

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