The Bible reveals human nature in so many cringeworthy moments. This passage has always made me think, “Wow, just Wow.”
John 8:31-34 (NLT) Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 “But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?” 34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin.
These religious … dudes, make me want to scream. Their nation came of age as slaves in Egypt. They had fallen to Assyria and Babylon. And, at the time of this exchange, they were under Roman rule. The nation of Israel had been in servitude to another nation for most of its existence.
In this intense scene, Jesus offers them real freedom.
Their response? “We have never been slaves…”
WHAT!? How could grown men be so juvenile? How could intelligent philosophers, lawyers, and teachers be so willingly blind?
They believed some lies that they had spouted so often they had become assumed. When people embrace lies, even very comforting ones, the seeds of destruction are sown.
Everything these men knew and believed would be ashes in their near future. All because they refused to believe what their hearts knew. Jesus was the Son of God, their promised Messiah.
But, Jesus was not the Messiah they wanted. They did not want the Truth. They wanted their comfortable lies.
I Know and Understand
1 Corinthians 1:27 (NLT) Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.
“What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.” ― Mark Twain (attributed)
It’s actually kind of amazing how confident human beings are in their knowledge.
Okay, you went to college. You spent eight, six, four, or maybe two years studying books and lectures to pass tests. You are officially an expert on… something. Awesome. So what…
Yes, I know it sounds rude, and I’m not actually trying to dismiss your accomplishments. It’s just that, well, you are not God. No matter how much you know, it really isn’t that much compared to what can be known. It certainly isn’t much compared to what God knows.
So why are human beings so confident in their knowledge? Why do we take our little knowledge, puff out our chests and believe we actually know something?
The smartest ant in the anthill is still just an ant.
1 Corinthians 8:1 (NLT) …But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church.
Our knowledge of any given subject is incomplete. There are likely truths related to our knowledge that we are unprepared to accept. So knowledge requires humility, patience, and even love.
When we think we know it all, or at least enough, we endanger ourselves. Sometimes we even choose to judge whether God is right or wrong. When we reject God’s truth, we destroy our own freedom. Real freedom is only found in Jesus Christ, not knowledge.
If Something Has Not Happened It Will Not Happen
2 Peter 3:4 (NLT) They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.”
It is a Cognitive Bias. We often believe that because something has not happened it cannot happen or will not happen. It’s like the mother warning her child of the danger of touching a hot stove or getting too near a fire. The child tests her warning and is not burned the first time or two. He or she comes to believe that their mother’s warning was silly. But, eventually, when you play with fire, you get burned.
The warnings of accountability to God and of a coming day of judgment are many. Eventually, every human being will meet God, either in death or His return. What does this have to do with freedom?
The chains of guilt, shame, and dread are heavy. They weigh down a life. A soul may escape through wonderful experiences. Or, a person may neglect them by the world’s many distractions. But, they are there. They don’t leave. They are a ball and chain that destroy real freedom.
If you desire real freedom, turn to God in the way He prescribed. Repent of your “I am my own god” complex and enthrone Jesus and the Lord of your life. Then you will experience real forgiveness and freedom.
I Am In Control
Romans 9:20 (NLT) …Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, “Why have you made me like this?”
Control is an illusion. My father tried to tell me. I had not been driving very long. How many of you know that it doesn’t take a young person very long to get very overconfident?
My father practically begged me to heed his warning. “Son, respect this vehicle. It’s going faster than you realize. And, you don’t have as much control as you think.”
It took me five times to learn the lesson my father tried to teach me. The first was a run-in with a ditch bank at the end of my street. I swear it jumped out in front of me. The second was a bridge lightly covered with snow. There were more. Finally, I slowed down, paid closer attention, and drove more cautiously. (but still 3 miles over the speed limit… just kidding officer)
You have far less control than you think. You can make your plans, but God will determine your steps. (Proverbs 16:9) If we don’t respect this reality, we will lose much of our freedom to mistakes made out of a need for control.
Only God is really in control. If we don’t recognize that and trust Him, the lessons to come will be painful.
I Am Safe
Safety is also an illusion. There is only one safe place that I know of and that is in Christ.
John 10:27-30 (NLT) My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, 29 for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. 30 The Father and I are one.”
Money ebbs and flows with markets, health, and inflation. Your health may be great today, but tomorrow you could be fighting for your life. A committed criminal will find a way to invade your home. Most homes can’t withstand a good kick against the front door. There is no safe place on this earth.
But there is a safe place in Christ. Am I saying that being in Christ will keep you from getting sick, poor, or suffering violence? No, Jesus’ closest friends suffered great illnesses, difficulties, and violence. I would, however, argue that they were safe.
I heard a statement from an Iranian Christian in the documentary “Sheep Among Wolves 2”. He said, “We don’t care if we are arrested. What are 50 years in jail compared to eternity with Christ?”
The worst thing that can ever happen to a believer is the best thing that could ever happen to anyone. They get to go to their Father. They enjoy Christ for eternity. They will never suffer or hurt ever again. They will never experience grief or sorrow again. They will be forever free from all of the maladies of life. And, they will know the joys that only the Father’s presence is able to provide.
If you try to be safe any other way, you will make yourself a prisoner to something. Don’t settle for the illusion of freedom. Know Christ. Know Peace. Be Free.