True, But . . .

“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”—John 8:32 (NKJV)

Christ’s statement here is one of the more popular passages in the Bible. Even those who barely understand or rarely read the Bible have a passing familiarity with this verse. And it’s easy to see why. It sends a hopeful message of liberation, a value we champion highly in our day and age. If something sets you free, then spread the word . . . and if that thing is truth, then let’s be all about the truth!

In a general sense, there’s an undeniable reality here. Recognizing the reality about something typically leads to a necessary resolution than denying or ignoring it. We are better off living in the light than the dark, and there’s a lot of wisdom in the proverb, “We need to fall in love with reality.” 

However, when it comes to this particular passage, we should understand what Jesus is referring to when He says “truth.” Is He describing a general concept concerning truth as alluded to above or something else? We don’t have to guess on this because Jesus defines everything for us in the previous verse: “Then Jesus said . . ., ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed’” (John 8:31 NKJV).

Jesus is stating here that the liberating truth in view is His Word. That changes everything, doesn’t it? The truth that frees a person isn’t “truth” in the general or generic sense, but the words that Christ has spoken; specifically, the words He has spoken concerning spiritual realities such as sin, repentance, mercy, forgiveness, love, restoration, etc. His teachings on these spiritual issues, and abiding (or continuing) in them, is what sets someone free, spiritually.

It’s important that we understand this. Although truth often is liberating in a general sense, the spiritual realities Jesus has given to us will always free us from spiritual bondage when we receive and continue in them! This means a person cannot truly know spiritual freedom apart from Christ. 

Liberation can only be experienced through Him, His words, His truth. And once we understand this, our hearts should be moved with compassion to lovingly share this truth with those who need to be set free. 

DIG: How is this passage often misunderstood?

DISCOVER: What has the power to free a person, spiritually?

DO: Who has God placed in your life who needs to know this truth? Pray about how He wants you to share it with them. 

About the Author

Pastor Dan Hickling

Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.