"IF THE SON SHALL MAKE YOU FREE, YE SHALL BE FREE INDEED" John 8:36By Ian Potts
Here is a verse which speaks about freedom. But what is this freedom and who is made free? Is this a freedom that everyone needs? Surely freedom is needed by those in bondage?
"Why", you may ask, "do I need to be freed? Aren't I free already?"
Well, in this article I intend to look at this freedom under five headings:
1. Freedom from what?
1. Freedom from what?
This verse will mean little to you until you realise that outside of Christ you are in bondage. Absolute bondage.
How? What kind of bondage?
All men outside of Christ are in bondage to sin, bondage to the consequences of sin, bondage to death, bondage to the Law of God, and, though they may deny it, their own will is bound.
Sin has such a power on men that they are utter slaves to it. Sin is that rebellion against God and His righteousness that so pervades our thoughts, desires and intentions that everything we do is affected by it. Nobody worships God as they should or lives their lives in the way God would have them live. In fact most people rarely even think about God, or care about living with regard to Him. And even if they do, even if they try to worship Him and live a righteous life, everything they do is affected by sin - because they are in bondage to it. It is in their very nature - a fallen nature.
But you probably don't believe that do you? You probably think you are quite all right - and not in bondage at all, quite able to make your own mind up about what to do and what not to do. After all, you have freewill don't you?
Do you? Free-will?
Well, when God created mankind He created him with freewill. Adam, the first man that lived upon this earth, had it in the Garden of Eden. But when Adam used his freewill to disobey God he fell into sin and lost that freewill for ever.
Yes, Adam fell, and entered into bondage. Sin entered in and is passed on to every one of Adam's descendants. And the inevitable consequence of sin, death, entered too. Man wasn't created to die - he was created to live unto God, but when sin entered the human race so did death.
"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:"But what of freewill? Surely we can decide what to do each day, what to eat, where to go? And of course, one day, when you're older, you'll probably look into religion and decide what's best for you - but not now. You want to enjoy life now, live it to the full, enjoy your freedom while you can...
But the truth is, you're bound. That freedom, and that freewill has limits. You're like a prisoner tied to the wall of a cell by chains. Yes, that prisoner can stand up, sit down, move around, jog on the spot but no matter how hard he tries he can't get out of the cell because of the chains that hold him back. He has freewill to a degree but he will never be able to escape the cell no matter how much he wills it.
So it is with you. You have a will but it is bound by sin. You can decide to do certain things but you can never truly worship God or live a righteous life because you are bound - bound by the chains of sin, death and the Law of God.
Everything you do is affected by sin. And that sin brings with it a consequence - death. "It is appointed unto men once to die".
No matter how much you choose to ignore it one day you will die. You can't escape it. Death affects everyone. It will come sooner than you think. And on the other side of death is the judgement. One day you will pass from this life into the next and have to give account before a Holy God for every sinful act you have committed in this life. And if you're found wanting, which you surely will be, then there awaits a just sentence for sin. An eternity of separation from God in that place known as Hell.
"Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:""But what of God's Law?" asks someone religious, "Surely God gave us the Ten Commandments to teach us how to live. If we live by those commandments won't God spare us from that punishment? Won't He show us love? Isn't there a freedom that comes by living by the Law?"
The trouble is we are still in bondage to sin. Yes, God gave the Law containing the Ten Commandments and they teach us how holy and righteous He is. We should live by them, we should love God with all our heart, all our mind, all our will and love our neighbour as ourselves - but we can't. No matter how hard we try we always break the law and we find that rather than it being to our good it brings us into further bondage. It condemns us to the core:
"For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me."All men are in bondage to the Law of God because of their sin. It tells us what to do but gives us no power to fulfil its demands. The harder you try to keep it the more into sin and condemnation you fall. You must keep it though, and if you don't you will find yourself under its curse.
"For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them."Yes, we are all bound by our sin, death and the law. So bound that our very wills are subject to sin. Mankind will not believe the truth of God, no matter how much of the truth he hears because he is in bondage, "sold under sin", and he needs to be freed!
2. Who brings this freedom?
But praise God, there is an answer. There is deliverance from this bondage. Freedom from sin, from death and from the law and its curse.
But who brings this freedom?
The verse reads, "If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed".
It is the Son who brings this freedom. What Son? The Son. The Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is that only begotten Son of the Father who "being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God" Philippians 2:6. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, but is also equal with God. He is God. God is one in three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. And the Son is equal with God.
"God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."Because of His love for sinners and desire to see them free from the bondage they are in, God gave His Son. His Son?
This is the Son of God who dwells in light inaccessible, who is equal with the Father, who is holy and righteous. This is that Son of whom John writes,
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not."The Son of God, as God, created the heavens and the earth. All things were made by Him. He came into this dark, sinful world as a man to bring freedom to men, and this dark, sinful world "comprehended it not".
God's Son came into this world by taking upon Himself human flesh. He was born of a virgin. The Holy Ghost came upon Mary and joined her seed to that of Christ's that He might take human flesh into perfect union with His divine being. But this flesh was without sin - spotless. Why did He do this? To deliver His people from their sins.
"...thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins."God's own Son came to bring freedom to His people. A wretched sinful people, bound by their sin, unable to ever worship God or serve Him as they should. An undeserving people. Sinners.
But what does the Apostle Paul tell us of Christ?
"...Christ Jesus, Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."Christ humbled Himself as a man. He knew no sin. He never sinned. He was perfect. He lived a perfect life, completely fulfilling the law and all its demands. He was the perfect man, God as man who came into this world, a world which rejected Him, to bring freedom to His people.
This is the Son of God of which it is written,
"GOD, who at sundry times, and in divers(e) manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?"This is the Son of God who brings freedom to His people. "If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" John 8:36.
3. How was this freedom brought about?
This freedom for sinners came at a price. A very great price. But that price was not paid by us. It was paid by God's only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, when He laid down His life on the cross.
Yes, the Son frees His people, but not without a cost.
We can't be freed from the bondage of sin except our sin be dealt with. The just penalty for sins that the law demands must be met. Sin must be done away with.
We can't be freed from the consequence of sin - death - except death be conquered, and new life be given to sinners who are "dead in trespasses and sins".
We can't be freed from the bondage of the law except its demands and its penalty be met in full, and a just deliverance be made.
And we can't be freed from the bondage of our own sinful will, unless that sin is taken away and we are given clean hearts and new spirits, and are given a will that desires to worship God and serve God.
All this was brought about by Christ at the cross. When the Son of God laid down His life for His people He wrought a complete deliverance and freedom. Christ had complete faith in His Father that in laying down His life the Father would put upon Him all the sins of His people, and justly punish all their sins in Him. Every single one. Christ was "made sin" for us, and as He hung on the tree God poured out all His righteous judgement upon His own Son - all His hatred for sin. The Son drank that bitter cup of God's wrath right down to the very dregs. Every drop.
He suffered. In a way that no one has ever suffered, and to a degree that no one can ever comprehend. Estranged from His father Christ died in the place of sinners, taking the punishment that they deserved in order to save them from their sins. To grant them eternal life - to free them from their bondage.
Wicked men drove nails into the hands and feet of the Son of God. And when He was dead they pierced His side with a spear, and out came blood and water. This blood shed by Christ for His people is that blood that washes them from their sins. The blood through which they are forgiven of all their sins and the blood through which God's righteousness is imputed to them - held to their account. Their sins were laid upon Christ, and the righteousness of God was laid upon them.
God's law demanded that a penalty be paid for sin. That the blood of a sacrifice must be shed. Christ, as the perfect Lamb of God, the perfect sacrifice for sin, shed His own blood - the righteous for the unrighteous.
At the cross Christ paid the just penalty for sin - the law's demands were completely met. He died in the sinner's place that he might be freed from the bondage of sin.
On the third day Christ arose from the tomb. He conquered death and the grave.
"Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him."Christ delivered the sinner from the bondage of the law by fulfilling the law. All the law's demands were met in Christ and His sacrifice on the cross.
And finally, in His death on the cross Christ took away sin, and through belief on Him and His sacrifice the sinner can know salvation from sin, and death, and by the Holy Spirit receive a clean heart and a new spirit being born again of God, and therefore being given a new will to worship and serve God.
All this was accomplished by Christ at the cross. Not merely to make it possible for sinners to be freed from bondage, but to actually free them - completely!
Why did He do this? For no other reason than that He loved a people and desired to save them and in so doing glorify God.
Are you a sinner? Do you see your need of freedom? Then you need to go to Christ and Him alone.
"All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."Christ paid a price to free His people. But He brings that freedom to that people at no price to them!
"Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price."
4. What is the nature of this freedom?
"If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed".
Our verse says, "ye shall be free indeed". That is quite a statement! If the Lord Jesus Christ makes you free then you aren't just free, you are free indeed!
By His once and for all sacrifice on the cross Christ has freed all those who believe on Him from sin, from death, from the bondage of the law, and from the bondage of their will.
Firstly, Christ frees sinners from the bondage of their sin. Sin is dealt with completely by Christ's sacrifice - the full penalty for sin has been met. (Of course, as every Christian knows, as long as they remain in this world they will still sin, but they are no longer in bondage to it, no longer under the dominion of sin - a new life is present within those that Christ has saved that causes them to live unto God: they are now freed from the power of sin!)
"Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:"Secondly, Christ frees sinners from the consequences of sin - from death and the wrath to come. Christ rose victorious over death and the grave, and brought in everlasting life for all who will believe on Him.
"He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it."Thirdly, Christ frees sinners from the bondage of the law, the curse of the law and the rule of the law.
"For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.The sinner saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ is no longer bound by the yoke of the law but is now married to Christ. He is now "yoked" to Christ:
"For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."And finally Christ frees sinners from the bondage of their sinful will. With his sins dealt with on the cross the child of God's will is no longer in bondage to sin. God creates in him a new heart and a new spirit.
"Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me."If any man receives such a freedom he will never want to lose it - it will be precious to him. And God promises that all whom the Son frees will remain free.
"For we hath not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but we have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father."
5. How is this freedom received?
So reader, here is freedom indeed. A freedom far more precious and far more needful than anything else. A freedom that is everlasting. A freedom that comes from the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ - there is no other way to obtain this freedom but through Him.
This freedom is not earned, it is not merited, but it comes solely by Grace - the unmerited favour of God towards sinners - and is received by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Your own works will never save you or merit God's favour because they are tainted by sin - you are bound. But God has shown grace to sinners through His Son - Jesus Christ!
"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."Reader, if you know you are in your sins, still in bondage, then you need the Holy Spirit to lead you into the truth about Christ and the salvation that is in Him alone.
But if you know something of the truth about Christ, who He is and what He did; If you have been shown the way to Him, and if you know Christ Himself, personally, and believe on Him, and you know that He died for you, for your sins, every one of them, washing them away in His blood; If the Holy Spirit has given you eyes to see your state and what Christ did, and ears to hear the truth about Him, and if God by His wonderful mercy and grace has granted you that spiritual gift of faith to believe on Christ and put your trust in Him alone, then He will be faithful to His promise. He will deliver you from bondage, from sin and from death and give you eternal life - and set you free.
"But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 6:22-23Or will you yet continue in your own way, rejecting the Saviour, content with the freedom you think you have in this present world? If so take heed - there is no freedom outside of Christ, only an eternity of suffering. But the wise will hear the word of truth and seek that freedom that comes from above:
"If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed".
Free indeed! Praise God for His grace and mercy to sinners through Jesus Christ His Son.