The Truth Shall Set You Free, part 1
My name is Michael the Penguin and I am a Christian in recovery.
I would like to think out loud with the rest of you for a while. One of my favorite verses in Scripture is John 8:32. "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." It seems, at first, to be a "no-brainer" in terms of interpretation:
(1) It is Jesus talking;
(2) He is the truth; and
(3) we can find freedom in life through Him.
The application to anyone in recovery is also obvious: in recovery we want to be free of our addictions, but we know we need to find a deeper freedom in order to achieve that. It is one thing to stop drinking, drugging, etc., but it is another thing to remain free and also have a life centered in God. The Steps are the tried and true way of helping any of us to find the freedom to be the person God wants us to be. For us as Christians, Scripture is a big part of those Steps. To me, Scripture is just about the one tried and true source of revelation from God. I can state categorically that Scripture is why I have remained sober for 12 years: the study, absorption and application of God's truths for me.
You can find John 8:32 in a lot of secular situations. I have seen it on the front entrance to the Library where I did my Ph.D. work. I have seen it on certain places as a memorable quote. After all, truth and freedom are very universal attributes sought by all since the beginning of time. And, Christians view truth very different from other groups or faiths.
What I was not overly aware of was John 8:31. I want to quote it and include John 8:32.
So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of mine, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."
The key word is "if." Although I am a student of Scripture, I don't pretend to know it all. I just cannot recall very many conditional statements in the New Testament. That "If then" phrase is very common in the Old Testament. We tend to generalize that the Old Testament is "conditional" while the New Testament is "unconditional." While I am sure these broad generalizations are true, I pause when I see the conditional statement in John 8:31-32. There is a lot to consider in the words "continue" - "disciple" "know" "truth" "free", etc.
I want to pursue this and I would like you, the reader, to come with me. This study is based on a set of sermons I heard from Dr. Charles Stanley back in the 80's. There were ten sermons. I heard some of them while they were being presented on television, and bought the tape set and worked through a response study that came out of his ministry. Then, about ten years later I went through a crisis and used this study to help me get through it. I listened to the sermons again. I put together a 13 page outline-based study for my own use and it is in my files now as an article called "Truth for Me" And now, about ten years after that, I am going to do this study again since I am once again going through a crisis. I suspect I will eventually get into all of that personal stuff, but for now I suspect I had better just leave that out.
As Christians we know we have freedom. That freedom comes from the grace of God through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. That is a given and a factual assurance. We are truly free. But, very often we just don't live that way, and one of the reasons we don't live that way is that we get wrapped up in our stuff and forget about our Christian walk. That has happened to me a lot of times. You are familiar with one of the important themes of Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life: "It's not about me." Well, too often I have thought it was about me and this has caused me problems that have really burdened me over the years. Jesus has been with me on all of this, thankfully, but dear reader know this: you can find forgiveness for your actions and sins, but you still live with consequences. David was forgiven by God but there were many unfortunate events that proceeded after his adultery with Bathsheba, and the murder of her husband Uriah.
And so, my purpose here is to go back to the basics and realize that freedom in God one more time. I hope you will come along with me.
Michael the Penguin
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