“And you will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32).
These are literally some of the most beautiful words in the Bible.
When I first gave my life to Christ, one of the first things that really resonated with me was the reality that true freedom can only be found in Christ.
This hit me hard because I had been seeking freedom for the majority of my life.
I had traveled the world and what I really loved about the whole travel experience was the sense of freedom it gave me. A freedom to explore, to try new things, to “discover myself”, to discover different cultures, etc.
And to be honest it did feel freeing. But after years of this, I began to feel a sense of bondage even within this so called “freedom”.
After a while the whole thing became monotonous. I found myself visiting yet another famous temple, yet another beautiful beach, or yet another breathtaking sunset.
As amazing as my travel experiences were, everything began to feel without meaning or purpose.
What exactly was I searching for? And why couldn’t I find it? If this lifestyle was supposedly “setting me free”, then why did I still feel lost?
It wasn’t until I came to Christ that I realized that true freedom can only be found in Jesus.
So, that is what I want to share with you today. True freedom. Freedom in Christ.
John 8:32 says the truth shall set you free, so let’s explore exactly what those words mean, and how you can experience the freedom of Christ in your own life.
Jesus Sets Captives Free
You’ve probably heard that Jesus sets captives free, but if you don’t exactly know what those words mean…then trust me, you’re not alone.
What does Jesus set us free from? In what ways are we in bondage? That’s what we’re going to look at here.
It was prophesied in the Old Testament (Isaiah 61:1) that when the Messiah came, He would set the captives free:
“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound”
Isaiah 61:1 (ESV)
Then in Luke 4:20-21 (the New Testament), Jesus proclaims that He is the much-anticipated Messiah, and through Him this prophesy has now been fulfilled:
“He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at Him intently. Then He began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”
Luke 4:20-21 (NLT)
So, if Jesus fulfilled the promise that He would set the captives free, how exactly did He do it? On that note, what does it even mean to “set captives free”?
Well, did you know that before Christ, you were captive to the power of sin over your life? Romans 8:2 tells us that Jesus freed us from the power of sin that leads to death.
“Because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.”
Romans 8:2 (NLT)
So, what exactly is the power of sin?
Well, let me ask you this: Have you ever had a situation where you felt controlled by a negative habit? Like you were trying to break the habit and its power over you, but you felt helpless and like you couldn’t control the things that you were doing?
If so, you’re not alone because Paul the Apostle also struggled with this very thing. In the Book of Romans Paul says that even though he wants to do what is right, he doesn’t. Instead, he does what he hates.
“The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.”
Romans 4:14-15 (NLT)
This is the struggle all believers have with sin. We want to do what is right, but we don’t. We have the desire to follow God (and not give into the sin of our flesh) and yet, we don’t.
Instead, we do the very thing we don’t want to do. For a group of people whose intentions are so well-hearted, why is that the case?
Well, the reason for this is because, as the Gospel of John says, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.
“I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin.”
John 8:34 (NLT)
We all have a sinful nature.
In addition to being a slave to sin, the book of Ephesians says we are dead in our sins (or transgressions as other translations put it).
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins.”
Ephesians 2:1 (NIV)
The reason for this is because (as Ephesians 2 puts it) before we came to Christ, we followed the ways of the world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air (which is a reference for Satan), which leads to death.
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.”
Ephesians 2:1-2 (NIV)
So, what Paul is saying is, before Christ, we were enslaved to sin, aka, the passions of our flesh and our own worldly desires. Instead of following the Holy Spirit, we followed the spirit that leads us to sin and death (Satan).
This is how we were held captive. We were enslaved and controlled by our own sinful nature.
Perhaps we wanted to change, but we had no power or control over our sinful desires.
However, what Paul tells us is now, thanks to Jesus’ death on the cross, we have control. We now have the power to say no to our sinful desires.
Because of your faith in Jesus, you have been freed from the power of sin over your life.
How do you now have freedom over the power of sin? Because you (and your old sinful nature) have actually been crucified with Christ into His death.
Crucified with Christ
In Romans 6:6, Paul says that our old sinful selves were actually crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives.
“We know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.”
Romans 6:6 (NIV)
Paul actually refers to us being “crucified with Christ” as being baptized into His death:
“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?”
Romans 6:3 (ESV)
So, here’s the funny thing about Paul, he frequently makes radical statements like this and then just expects us to already know what he’s talking about.
Like, “Oh by the way, you have been baptized into Jesus’ death, didn’t you know?”.
The most natural response to this is, “Well, when the heck did I do that?” But don’t worry, Paul goes on to give us further explanation because honestly, we need it.
In verse 4 Paul says:
“We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”
Romans 6:4 (ESV)
Okay – let’s backtrack because this might be a tad confusing if you don’t understand the spiritual meaning behind baptism.
Baptism is a word that simply means “immersed”. When you are baptized, you are immersed in water which symbolically represents how we have been immersed, or joined, with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection.
The book of Romans is where Paul tells us that we have been immersed, or joined, with Christ in:
- His death (Romans 6:3)
- His burial (Romans 6:4)
- His resurrection (Romans 6:4)
That is how we have been crucified with Christ. When we accepted Jesus into our hearts, we joined Him in death so we could also join Him in resurrection life.
You see, baptism actually tells a story:
- Bringing a person into the water and laying them back portrays how they have been joined with Christ in His death
- When they are in the water, this portrays how that person has joined with Christ in His burial
- When the person is brought back out of the water, it portrays the spiritual reality that they have been raised with Christ into new life
So, with that information, let’s now bridge the gap between how this relates to us no longer being a slave to sin.
When Jesus died, we were also crucified with Him. Our old self that was controlled by sin had to die, so that our new selves could be made alive in Christ.
Ephesians 4:22-24 puts it like this:
“Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Ephesians 4:22-24 (ESV)
Since the wages of sin is death, we have to put to death our sinful nature so it can no longer control us and lead us to death.
“For the wages of sin is death”
Romans 6:23 (ESV)
Think of it like this, one surefire way for a slave to be set free from their bondage to slavery, and the slave master, is to die.
Through a slave’s death, he is freed from the slave master. The slave master now has zero control over the slave because a dead slave cannot, and will not, obey the slave master’s orders any longer.
The 1960’s film Spartacus said it like this, “Death is the only freedom a slave knows, that’s why we’re not afraid of it”.
Death releases a slave from their servitude to their master.
In the same way, when we are crucified with Christ and join Him in His death, we die to our sin and are released from our old slave master (aka the devil).
That is why through being crucified with Christ we are simultaneously set free from the power of sin and death, and given new life in Christ.
Romans 6:11 says:
“So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus”
Romans 6:11 (ESV)
Jesus overcame not only the penalty of sin, but also the power of sin. Because our old self was crucified with Christ, sin can no longer control our lives.
That means we have no obligation to do what our sinful nature urges us to do.
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.”
Romans 8:12 (NLT)
The reason for this is because you have been released from the slavery of sin and set free by the power of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
John 8:32 Meaning – “The Truth Shall Set You Free”
So then, what is the meaning behind the John 8:32 verse, that the truth shall set you free?
“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:32 (NLT)
I feel we are now completing one giant thought loop and circling back to this original question.
Well, in answer to this question, there is always a freedom that comes from knowing the truth.
For me, I remember my life vividly before I came to Christ. I was constantly searching for freedom, yet the freedom I found was false.
It was a momentary high, followed by deep lows, where I found myself constantly seeking that euphoric high again.
It wasn’t satisfying, rich, or long-lasting.
As Solomon puts it in the book of Ecclesiastes, it was like a wisp of smoke, a vapor that vanishes, like chasing the wind.
“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher. “Vanity of vanities! All [that is done without God’s guidance] is vanity [futile, meaningless—a wisp of smoke, a vapor that vanishes, merely chasing the wind].”
Ecclesiastes 1:2 (AMP)
Compare that to my life now in Christ, and it’s the complete opposite. Freedom in Jesus feels like a deep well that quenches the thirst of my soul.
It’s rich, deep, satisfying, and lasts forever.
The fullness I have in Christ all stems from knowing the truth of who Jesus is.
It comes from knowing that Jesus is my Lord and Savior who loves me so much that even when I was completely drenched in the stench of my sin, He found me worthy enough to die in my place so I could live forever in Him.
You know the popular expression, “the truth hurts”? Well, I completely disagree with this phrase within the context of our life with Jesus.
The truth of Jesus doesn’t hurt, it sets you free.
Don’t get me wrong, it was definitely painful to see the truth of my sin laid out before me, but Jesus smothered the guilt of my sin in the oasis of His love.
He is able to do this because ultimately, it’s the life-giving resurrection power of His love that has set me free. 🙂
Recap time! Let’s recap how the truth sets you free, and the meaning of “freedom in Christ”:
- Jesus’ death on the cross saved us from both the penalty and the power of sin.
- Before Christ we were enslaved and controlled by our sinful nature, and we didn’t have the power to say no.
- When you accept Christ into your life, you join Him in His death, burial, and resurrection and our old sinful selves were actually crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in your life.
- Because Jesus overcame the power of sin, we are no longer controlled by our sinful nature, we are now controlled by the power of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
- The truth of Jesus Christ has set us free because we know the truth of our sin, and the love of Jesus who died in our place so we could have eternal life.
Did this post help you understand the meaning behind John 8:32, “The truth shall set you free?” Let me know in the comments below!
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