John 8: 31, 32 “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Where does true freedom come from, the point of entry (salvation) or following Christ (discipleship)? I think this question is more important than it may appear.
Of course there is a freedom that enters into your life at the moment you become a child of God, by repenting and believing that Jesus is the Messiah, that He did die for you and rise again. Your past, at least the guilt and condemnation of it, is washed away. The freedom and release associated with this moment is indescribable – and very real.
However, there is still the slavery of your former mindset that holds you and keeps you from truly experiencing the full freedom that Christ promises. The freedom from chasing the things of the world, from living and reacting the way the world does, from thinking the way the world does. Free from the fight – in every way.
According to John 8:31, 32, this freedom only comes after you commit to His teachings and become His disciple. It is beyond the salvation experience. It is salvation at a much deeper level, the salvation of everything you are, the release of the grip the world has on you and the grip you have on the world.
We talk about knowing the truth and the truth setting us free, but mostly this is done in the context of the “salvation experience” – at the point of entry, so to speak. But Jesus says that this freedom comes AFTER you become His disciple, which comes AFTER you hold to His teachings, which comes AFTER you believe.
This makes perfect sense if you think about it. While the condemnation is removed at salvation, it is in following Him, truly understanding His way and living in it (the real Way, not your idea of what His way should be) – – – then and only then that the strongholds and strangleholds of the world start to fall away and true freedom is found.
There are far too many Christians who claim freedom because they “accepted Jesus as their savior” but actually don’t experience any freedom because they have never subsequently followed Him as a disciple. They are caught up in the ways of vengeance, money, anger, lust, hatred, lack of forgiveness, worry, depression – all the things the world struggles with.
The progression of Jesus’ teaching in this passage is fairly straightforward:
- Believe Him
- Hold to His teachings
- Become His disciple
- Know the truth
- Be set free
There are no shortcuts.