THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU FREE
By John C. Carpenter
 
Holy Scripture tells us, Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:31-32). The Lord later said to these Jews, But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham (John 8:40).
 
WHAT IS "TRUTH?"
 
Just before Jesus was to be crucified, Pontius Pilate asked Jesus,What is truth? We should ask the same question. There are apparently different kinds of truth referred to in the scriptures. Specifically, what was the Lord talking about in these verses, what is this "truth" that the Lord said we shall know, this truth that Jesus told the Jews, and what does this truth set us "free" from? The word "truth" used in chapter eight of the book of John is the Greek word "aletheia," which means "real, as not concealed." The Lord gave us a hint as to what truth is a few verses earlier when He said, I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins (John 8:24). The word "he" refers to the fact that Jesus is the Christ (John 1:20), the lamb of God (John 1:36), the son of God (John 1:49), thetrue bread from heaven (John 6:32) and the son of man (John 6:53). According to these scriptures, it appears that the "truth" that is spoken of here is that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of Man, the Son of the living God. Please let me offer a little more evidence as to why I believe this. Jesus Christ said to a Pharisee named Nicodemus, But he that doeth [knows, abides in, responds to] truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God (John 3:21). What is this "truth" that Jesus is referring to here. Jesus told us a few verses earlier when He said, For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him [as the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God] is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil (John 3:17-19). Jesus made it clear to Nicodemus that the "truth" the Lord was referring to is that Jesus is the "Son of God," and when anyone believes this truth, he or she is "not condemned" by God. Speaking to a Jewish crowd, the Lord said, Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth (John 5:33). What was this "truth" that Jesus said John the Baptist bore witness to? Scripture tells us, The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I [John the Baptist] saw, and bare record [witness, testimony] that this [Jesus] is the Son of God (John 1:29-34). John the Baptist bore record of the truth that Jesus is the Son of God. Paul expressed his frustration with the Galatians who would not believe on Jesus as the Christ or Messiah when he said, O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey [respond, accept] the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith [in Jesus as the Christ and Messiah]? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? (Gal 3:1-3). The Galatians wanted to continue pursuing sanctification and eternal life through their own works, by keeping the law, and not by faith in Jesus as the Christ. Paul questioned the unbelief of these Galatians exclaiming that "Jesus Christ had been set before their very eyes, and that they had even witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus Christ." How could they not know who He was and believe on His name? The apostle Paul also had the same difficulty with the Roman Jews who refused to believe in Christ. Paul said they do not obey [respond, believe, accept] the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation, and wrath. (Rom 2:8). Paul later said of the Jews, But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed (Rom 9:31-33). Paul made it clear the Jews had sought, but not attained, righteousness because they sought it by attempting to keep the law rather than faith in Jesus Christ. The Galatians and Romans both rejected the "truth." The apostle Peter said, Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: (1 Pet 1:22). Peter had explained a few verses earlier what this truth was that they had obeyed. He said, Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you (1 Pet 1:18-20). These believers were redeemed, not with corruptible things, but with the precious blood of Christ, who was foreordained to come to earth as the Christ and Messiah, even before the earth was founded. The truth that these believers accepted was that Jesus was the Christ, and accepting this truth redeemed them before God. The apostle John said of believers, And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment (1 John 3:19-23). John explained that because they kept the commandment to believe on the name of God's son Jesus Christ, they pleased God, and because they pleased God, they knew that their hearts did not condemn them, and because their hearts did not condemn them, they knew they had assurance [confidence] before God, and they knew they had assurance because they believed the "truth." That truth that John referred to was that Jesus is the Christ. There are several kinds of truth referred to in the scriptures, but it is clear that the truth that Jesus referred to as making us free is the fact that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the son of the living God.
 
THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU FREE
 
The Lord said, the truth shall make you free, and since we know that the "truth" is that Jesus is the Son of God, the Christ, the Messiah, what then does this truth make us "free" from? There is considerable teaching and discussion in the modern day church about being "set free." We are told that we as Christians can be free from sin, free from debt, free from sickness, free from suffering and pain, free from want or need, free from this, or free from that. When we search the scriptures, we find only seven verses in which the English word "free" is translated from the Greek word "Eleutheroo," which means to liberate or exempt from moral liability. All seven of these verses appear to be related to the same theme. The apostle Paul mentioned this exemption in five verses; four times with the Romans, and once with the Galatians. Paul said, Being then made free [eleutheroo] from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness (Rom 6:18), and But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life (Rom 6:22). Speaking later to the Romans, Paul clearly told them and us what we as Christians are set free from, saying, For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death (Rom 8:2). Paul initially tells the Jewish Romans that they are set free from "sin," but then later clarified that what they are set free from is the "law of sin and death." Paul begins to make his point to the Jews saying, As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: (Rom 3:10), and Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his [God's] sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin (Rom 3:20). Paul explains that none are righteous, and that by the deeds or works of keeping the law no man shall be justified or made right in God's eyes. Paul further exclaimed to these Jews, But now the righteousness of God without [apart from keeping] the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: (Rom 3:21-22). Paul made it clear that the true way to become righteous with God was by having faith in Jesus as the Christ, and not by trying to keep the Jewish law. He also said, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty [eleutheroo] of the children of God (Rom 8:21), For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free [eleutheroo] from the law of sin and death (Rom 8:2), and Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage [to keeping the law] (Gal 5:1). Jesus Christ also mentioned this freedom or exemption twice to the Jews. In trying to explain to them that if they did not believe the truth, that He was the son of God, they would die in their sins. He said to them, ...ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins (John 8:24). Christ later said And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free [eleutheroo] (John 8:32) and If the Son therefore shall make you free [eleutheroo], ye shall be free indeed (John 8:36). What was this freedom or exemption that Jesus and Paul spoke of? When we study being "set free" in context, it becomes clear that when we know and believe the truth that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the son of the living God, what we all [Jews and Christians alike] are set free from is having to keep the law in order to have eternal life, which is described in scripture as the "law of sin and death."
 
THOU SHALT SURELY DIE
 
God the Father made the law of sin and death obvious to man from the beginning of time. God told Adam, And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof [are disobedient to my commandments] thou shalt surely die (Gen 2:17). In other words, the principle simply stated that if you disobeyed God's standards and commandments [if you sinned], you would surely die. From the very beginning, by God's standards, disobedience to God, or sin, simply led to death. Adam's wife, Eve, also apparently understood this principle. She said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die (Gen 3:3). Moses understood and explained this principle to the nation of Israel saying, The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin disobedience] (Deut 24:16). The prophet Ezekiel also mentioned the law of sin and death saying, But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin [disobedience] that he hath sinned, in them shall he die (Ezek 18:24). In the new testament, the apostle Paul described this principle of the law saying, Wherefore, as by one man sin[disobedience] entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (Rom 5:12), andFor the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom 6:23). The apostle James succintly explained the principle of the law of sin and death when he said, Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death (James 1:15). God's law of sin and death simply states if one commits sin [disobedience to God's commandments], that individual shall die. The "law" of sin and death can also be understood and viewed as a "process." By this I mean that, to the Jews, keeping the group of standards called the law, was a process to be kept and obeyed. To the Jew, obedience to the standards of the "law" meant life, and disobedience to the law meant death. The Jews "worked" at keeping the law. Regarding new converts to Christ, one Pharisee suggested That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses (Acts 15:5). Jesus was asked by a rich young ruler, Good Master, what good thing [work] shall I do, that I may have eternal life? (Mat 19:16). This young man, who was probably Jewish, was accustomed to having to do something, a work, in order to earn and have eternal life. Jesus said to the ruler, ...Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments (Matt 19:17), to which the young man responded All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? (Mat 19:20). The Lord simply wanted the young ruler to believe that He was the Son of God, the Christ, the Messiah rather than attempt to perfectly keep all of the law. At the sea of Galilee, a group of people asked the Lord What [work] shall we do, that we might work the works of God? (John 6:28). The Lord responded, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he [God the Father] hath sent (John 6:29). Jesus made it clear that in order to have eternal life, they did not have to perform works in their efforts to keep the law, they simply had to believe on him as the Son of God.
 
Whether the "law" is thought of as a principle or a process, the fact remains that if we in new testament times believe on Christ, we are not subject to the principle or process - we will not die from our sins, and we are not required to keep the Jewish law in order to have eternal life. This is because God from the very beginning had provided for us a means for accomplishing our being set free.
 
LEST HE PUT FORTH HIS HAND
 
Scripture informs us that God planned to redeem mankind not with corruptible things, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you (1 Pet 1:18-20). God always knew that man would be disobedient, and therefore consistently provided a means for man to be reconciled to God. Even in the very beginning, when Adam and Eve had disobeyed God, God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: (Gen 3:22). God made it clear that Adam and Eve must put forth their hand, take of the tree of life [a type of Christ], eat or partake of the tree of life, and therefore have new life. In these verses, God gave us the means by which man could be reconciled to God - a sacrifice. When God was about to bring judgment on Egypt and deliver Israel from Egypt, God said to Moses, For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite [kill] all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD (Exo 12:12). Even then, though, God provided a way for the faithful to excape His judgment. God said, And the blood [of the sacrificial lamb] shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass [the death angel] over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt (Exo 12:13). Again, in these verses, God gave us the means by which man could be reconciled to God - a sacrifice. In the new testament, Jesus Christ described God the Father's method of dealing with sin and death. The Lord said, For God so loved the world, that he gave [sacrificed] his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved [from death]. He that believeth on him is not condemned [to death]: but he that believeth not is condemned[to death] already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16-18). Again in these verses, God gave us the means by which man could be reconciled to God - a sacrifice.
 
SALVATION, PROPITIATION, JUSTIFICATION, ATONEMENT,
SANCTIFICATION, BLESSEDNESS, AND
RECONCILIATION
 
When we know and believe the truth, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, several things happen as a result. Because we Christ, who became God's propitiation [atoning victim] by atoning [exchanging, adjusting] for our sins, we are reconciled [mutually changed] with God, sanctified [made holy], justified, [just, innocent, righteous, not liable for our sins], saved [delivered, protected or preserved from death], and considered by God to be blessed [fortunate, well off]. The angel of the Lord prophesied to Joseph that Mary, his wife to be, would bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins (Mat 1:21), while Jesus told Nicodemus For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved (John 3:17). The apostle Paul explained the role that God the Father had for his son Jesus Christ in our righteousness saying, Being justified freely by his [God's] grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation [an atoning victim] through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; (Rom 3:24-25). Because of God's grace, and not our effort, human beings were given the opportunity to be justified or made right with God through the redemption of Christs' shed blood and sacrifice. The apostle John said the same thing: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). God had decided that his son Jesus Christ would be the propitiation or atoning victim for the whole world. Paul also said, And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement [reconciliation] (Rom 5:11). The crucifixion of Jesus Christ is what has reconciled us to God. Paul told the Romans For if, when we were enemies of God], we were reconciled [to change mutually] to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life (Rom 5:10) and the Corinthians And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:18). Paul also told the Colossian believers,And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he [God, through the blood of Christ] reconciled [you] (Col 1:21). Praying to God the Father, Jesus Christ said, And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth (John 17:19), whereas the book of Hebrews instructs us that we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all (Heb 10:10). Last of all, it becomes very clear that when we believe that Jesus is the Son of God, we are blessed. I am sure you remember when the disciples were asked by Christ Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? AndSimon Peter answered and said,, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him,Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven (Mat 16:13-17).
 
DOST THOU BELIEVE ON THE SON OF GOD?
 
The Lord said to the blind man He had just healed, Jesus heard that they [the Jews] had cast him [the healed man] out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee.(John 9:35-37). Do you recognize Jesus, do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah, the Christ? This the greatest revelation of truth that God has ever given man, but this revelation has not been given only to the holy. Demon spirits also know and believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Scripture tells us, And when he [Jesus] was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time? (Mat 8:28-29), and And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God. And he rebuking them suffered them not to speak: for they knew that he was Christ (Luke 4:41). Unclean spirits when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God (Mark 3:11). Jesus's disciples recognized Him as the Son of God. After Jesus walked on the water of the sea of Galilee and calmed the storm that was raging against His disciples's boat, scripture tells us Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God (Mat 14:33). The centurion and others at the crucifixion of Jesus recognized that Jesus was the Son of God. Scripture tells us, Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God (Mat 27:54). The angel of God who told Mary that she would be the mother of the Lord knew that Jesus was the Son of God. Scripture tells us, And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35). John the Baptist recognized Christ, saying,And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God (John 1:34). At the resurrection of Lazarus, Martha said to Jesus, Yea, Lord:I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world (John 11:27). Many, evil and good alike, recognize and know the Son of God.
 
YE SHALL BE FREE INDEED
 
Speaking to a group of Jews that believed on Him, Jesus Christ said, If the Son therefore shall make you free [eleutheroo], ye shall be free indeed (John 8:32-36). In context, the freedom that Jesus Christ is referring to here is that anyone who believes the truth, that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, he or she will not be held liable for their sins. In so many different ways, Scripture bears this out. The apostle James explained the position of unbelievers saying, For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend [sin] in one point, he is guilty [liable to penalty] of all (James 2:10), whereas Paul said, There is none righteous [innocent], no, not one (Rom 3:10). Then Paul clarified how unbelievers can be made right, saying, For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one [Christ] shall many[who believe in Jesus as the Messiah] shall be made righteous [guiltless] (Rom 5:19). Jesus Christ said, For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him [as the Christ] should not perish [suffer the penalty of death due to sin], but have everlasting life (John 3:16) and He that believeth on him is not condemned [to death due to sin]: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (John 3:18). Jesus tells us he that believeth [I am Christ] and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned [to death] (Mark 16:16). In prison, Paul and Silas told a guard Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ [the truth], and thou shalt be saved, and thy house (Acts 16:31). Emphasizing the importance of Christ and His crucifixion, the apostle Paul said, Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved [from wrath; i.e., death] by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement (Rom 5:9-11). Giving the requirements for salvation to Roman Jews, Paul said, if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jessus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalta be saved (Rom 10:9), and to the believers at Ephesus, he said, For by grace are ye saved [from wrath and death]through faith [in Jesus as the Christ] (Eph 2:8). Paul told Timothy that God’s will is to have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:4). Paul and others told the church at Thessalonica that individuals perish because they received no the love of the truth, that they might be saved (2 Thes 2:10). Knowing and believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, saves us from death. Is this not what Christ meant when He said, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free?” If the Son makes us free from our moral liability, we are free indeed!  AMEN.
 
 
THE CHRISTIAN HERALD
                                                           A Judeo-Christian Bible Study
 
"He is despised
and rejected
of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted
with grief: and we
hid as it were
our faces from
him; he was
despised, and
we esteemed
him not"
(Isa 53:3)



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