“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (Jesus, quoted at John 8:31-32).
I’m not a formally educated man. The Lord has had to find other ways to bring knowledge to me. The best I can do is pray, and after that, observe. But if you’ll allow me, Church, I’d like to write as if I actually were a formally educated man, and launch a (semi)formal investigation into the relationship between truth and freedom – since Jesus brought it up first.
We are, so far, four letters deep into a discussion on the freedom Jesus presents – free indeed – and have identified at least four important things to know about it. Let’s review:
- It’s important to know the difference between free indeed and free to do what-the-heck-ever.
- It’s important that the Son sets you free, and not just anybody.
- It’s important to not settle for a lesser freedom than what Jesus offers.
- It’s important to know what you’ve been set free from.
Now it’s time for a word on truth. “The truth will set you free” (John 8:32). According to Jesus, truth is a liberator, a broker of freedom. There’s reality, and then there’s made-up stuff that has little or nothing to do with reality. Truth sets you free from the made-up stuff, whether it’s your own or somebody else’s. Truth, and therefore freedom, is acquired by abiding in Jesus’ word.
In John 16, Jesus calls the Holy Spirit “the Spirit of Truth” (verse 13), and says, “he will guide you into all the truth.” At the moment of salvation (or “regeneration”), a whole new dimension of truth opens up to the believer. It was there all along, but as 1Corinthians 2:14 puts it,
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
Oh, but after spiritual birth, the spiritual person judges all things (verse 15). Something beyond natural, or super-natural, is going on now, and the believer has the mind of Christ (verse 16). All truth is accessible. “Accessible” – dwell on that word for a moment, and let a couple questions materialize: Accessible how… by what means? To get answers to those questions, you have to answer another one up front: Are you a natural person (unsaved/unregenerated) or a spiritual person (saved/regenerated)? Before you answer, see this brief word about what it means to be spiritual…
“I’m spiritual, but not religious.” The statement was wildly popular a while back. I was supposed to know what it meant. I know what it means. Variations on it are still with us, like dust motes hanging in the air. Now hear what Scripture says about spirituality: nobody gets to define spirituality on their own terms – God alone does that. You are either saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ, or you are deceived.
For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But, as it is written,
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—
10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God (1Corinthians 2:2-10).
Natural or spiritual? If natural, then the door to most truth – all of it that matters most – is closed to you. But if spiritual, then the Holy Spirit – the very person Jesus said would guide you into all the truth – is your Counselor and Guide. How do I know? I looked into the Word and was led by the Spirit to understanding. That’s how it works. It’s not rocket science; it’s actually much simpler and far more useful.
Imagine, if you’re able, truth as being in the shape of a bell. Not just a bell curve – two dimensions would be at least one dimension short – but a bell with height, width, and depth. Now add time, the fourth dimension.
Oh, but look: I’m out of time… and space. I’m told that a letter of more than 1000 words takes too long to scroll through on a smartphone. Right. I’ll save some words for next week; they’re on lock-and-load. Meanwhile…
Grace and Peace (ringing in truth),