Let me ask you a question, Who do you serve? I can hear an answer, “I don’t serve anybody, I am a free person.” Freedom is still a huge issue. Modern western culture teaches us to aspire to independence, freedom and self-determination, the internal dialogue is, as long as it doesn’t harm anybody else satisfying myself is good. This frequently carries with it a naïve perspective about what constitutes harming others.
For a great deal of the world even political or freedom of thought and expression may be an aspiration that has little relation to reality. Consider the countries where blasphemy laws carry a death penalty, political opposition attracts prison, torture and possibly death. Economic oppression inflicts slavery on vast numbers, India the largest democracy in the world has an estimated 14 to 18 million slaves. (Wikipedia 21.10.18) A great deal of slavery is driven by the desire for cheap products to satisfy western freedom to pursue materialism with little thought of the hidden harm it is causing.
Freedom then remains a massive current issue and at the heart of it lies the heart, or core values of individuals.
John chapter 8 contains three huge statements by Jesus, they are so outspoken that as C.S Lewis said there can only be three alternatives, Jesus is either who he says he is – God, mad or bad. The statements are :
- ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’ v12
- ‘If you abide in my word … you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ vv32,33
- ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am. v58
When Jesus speaks of freedom he means freedom from the slavery of sin. All slavery arises in one way or another from people’s compulsion to sin, ‘everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.’ v34 No one is naturally free from that compulsion even if we do give in to the extremes of it. Denial of that is common even in the face of obvious evidence. The Jewish crowd said, ‘We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved.’ This is the nation that had been 400 years in slavery in Egypt, Northern Israel had been overrun by Assyria and the vast numbers deported as slaves throughout their empire and Judah had only relatively recently returned from enslavement in Babylon and they were currently living under the control of Rome. A feature of sin is to deny the truth of sin.
Jesus was promising liberation from the control of sin and the eternal consequences of sin. This is what he meant by, ‘If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed’ v36 Obedience to the word of God is the means by which we can live in his freedom. ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ vv31,32 God’s word, or scripture, is God’s means by which we are empowered to live as his disciples. The Spirit of God will use his word to guide us into his truth and that will bear fruit in our lives. ‘When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.’ John 16.13
Paul says, ‘For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.’ Galatians 5.13 James says, ‘Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.’ James 1.18Have you experience the reality that knowing Jesus and obeying his teaching is what delivers true freedom?
Do you spend time reading, reflecting and praying about God’s word so he can work out his freedom in you?
Bob Dylan – Gotta Serve Somebody