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

This verse [which is really a partial sentence] gets my vote for the most theologically abused, taken-out-of-context-and-misapplied verse in all of the Scriptures.  I heard it once uttered by a political figure who had been released from jail after abusing the power of his office, and it has been used by other nefarious figures who have seen in it a handy excuse for their misdeeds.

Had they bothered to read the whole sentence, they wouldn’t have so hastily misused this verse:

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”” (John 8:31–32, ESV)

The prerequisite for knowing the truth is to “abide in my word.”  This is conveniently left out by those who would like to hijack it as a personal defense against their own misdeeds, or as a political support for whatever particular agenda [be it right or left] that they happen to hold.

The key here is abiding in the word of Jesus, which means planting roots and sticking as if we were branches that were grafted in with Jesus as the root of the branch.  For the truth to set us free, we must know Jesus’ words and love Jesus’ words and follow Jesus’ words and obey Jesus’ words.  Indeed, the truth is that Jesus himself is the truth by which men are set free, as Jesus points out in short order:

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36, ESV)

If you want to be free, whether you are a politician who has abused your office, or just a run-of-the-mill sinner who has been enslaved by your own appetites and desires, then go to the place of freedom: the feet of Jesus. There you can truly say, “I have known the truth and he has set me free.”

 

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