Editor’s note: The following message on “The truth sets you free” is taken from a series on “Great Attitudes” by Farren Roper, pastor of Corinth Baptist Church. It’s reprinted here with his permission.
I could tell you a story, but I had rather read it. It’s a conversation between a canary in a cage and a lark on the window seal. Maybe we can learn from it:
The lark looked in at the canary and asked, “What is your purpose?”
“My purpose is to eat seed,” said the canary.
The lark pressed, “What for?”
To which the canary chimed, “So I can be strong.”
Again, the lark asked, “What for?”
“So I can sing,” answered the canary.
“What for?” asked the Lark.
“Because when I sing I get more seed,” the canary answered.
“So, let me see if I understand: you eat in order to be strong so that you can sing. You sing in order to get more seed to eat? You eat for strength?” the lark asked.
“Exactly,” was the canary’s reply.
“You know, Mr. Canary,” said the lark, “there is more to you than that. If you’ll follow me I’ll help you find it, but you must leave your cage. It’s tough to find meaning living in a caged world.”
Growing up, I never had a hamster, but I was always intrigued by the little wheel inside their cage; how it climbs aboard and runs, runs, runs, turning that wheel round and round. I’ve often wondered if the hamster thought, “Am I going somewhere?”
Sometimes I wanted to say, “Stop, little fellow; you’re not getting anywhere.” I guess if it missed its road, he just ran around the block!
By the way, sometimes I have felt like I know how he feels: To run, run, run, only to get nowhere. How about you?
So, I thought about our interrogative tonight being, “Where are we going?” But before we know where we’re going, we have to be set free. So, the question is, “Where do we find freedom?”
The first part of John 8 is the historical account of the lady who was caught in adultery. The Scribes and Pharisees bring her to the Lord, a lady who was caught in the very act, as Verse 4 vividly describes.
I have often asked where was the man? After all, it takes two to fornicate. I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this whole scene was a setup. The very law they quote is found in Deuteronomy 22:22, which says: “They both shall die,” meaning both who were caught in adultery shall die. Yet here in John 8, only the woman is brought in. So this is a gotcha moment! Unfortunately, Jesus had many “gotcha” moments.
Verse 6 reveals their real motive: “They were trying to arrange a situation whereby they could catch and accuse Jesus of being contrary to their law.” They could care less about the law. In actuality, they were just using it.
Oh, the lowliness of degenerate religious people; the conniving, the heights of hypocrisy that they will go to, using religion as a home base, they will stop at nothing. Jesus condemned them with a simple statement. In Verse 7 he says, “Whoever is without sin, cast the first stone.” So, they catch Him, not because He does anything wrong. And neither does Christ condemn her, but instead sets her free (Verse 11). ...
Ironically, John 8 is all about “truth,” absolute genuine truth (of which I believe in). In Verse 32 Jesus says, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” And the argument begins! We’re not slaves, we’re Abraham’s seed. How do you say we need to be set free?
Two verses later, in Verse 34, Jesus says, “Truly, truly I say to you, he who commits sin is enslaved to sin.” The verb tense is continual, (it’s a present active participle) so it’s translated, “He who continues to sin is enslaved to it.” We would say he who continually lives in sin, literally, it (sin) controls them. You see, it’s the canary’s cage. It’s the hamster’s wheel. It’s so binding, so controlling, it’s what sin does!
You see my friends, wherever there is freedom, there must be a prior enslavement. We cannot be set free from freedom; on the contrary, there must be something that entangles and binds, something that keeps a person with or against his or her will!
“Doulos” is your Greek word, it’s the slave and master relationship! Doulos is your word for slave. Jews would know well the imagery, they were slaves to seven different countries during their history, according to the Book of Judges.
We’ve learned from our own history the ugliness of slavery. We know how unjust it is to hold a innocent person against their will. We know how wrong it is to incriminate a blameless person. So, Jesus uses this well-known evil to declare, “It’s what sin does.” It traps people. It ties them up. It binds and keeps them!
Yes, it has power, and none of us are immune from it. We all have been enslaved to the power of sin at some point in our lives! But, there is a source more powerful than sin itself. There is something able to break the strong holds. There is something that enables us to be emancipated and liberated from its vice and that something is truth! And Jesus says, we can know it, and it will set us free!
I would have you to notice with me that truth is all by itself. Jesus didn’t add another modifier. It’s not truth plus something. It’s truth standing alone!
Now in Verse 36, John says, “If the Son shall set you free you shall be free indeed.” But wait a minute pastor, you say. You just said that John added no other modifier: that it is truth and truth alone. Yes, I did, but John 14:6 reminds us that Jesus is truth. Plus, in John 1:1 (the introduction of the gospel), John saw God’s Son and God’s Word synonymously.
To John, my friends, the Word and the Son are One in the same, which is exactly what Jesus claimed later in John 14. You cannot separate God from His Word. You cannot separate God, God’s Son, God’s Word or God’s truth, their are all one in the same! God has done the amazing for us; He has fused together Himself, His Son, His Word, and His truth!
And so, when John says, the Son sets us free, it’s no different than saying the Word sets us free, or God sets us free, or God’s truth sets us free. They are all one in the same! Or, as Dr. Bob Utley says, truth is a person!
So, just a few questions to ponder:
One: What is our source of truth? When you and I are searching for truth, when truth is what we need, where do we go?
Two: What is our source of strength? When it is strength we need, like in these COVID-19 times, where do we gain strength? I can let you in on a secret: your source of truth will be closely related to your source of strength.
Three: Whatever your source of truth and strength is, has it set you free?
I believe in absolute truth. I believe Jesus is the only real truth! I believe all other truth is flawed, because man is flawed. I believe His teachings are true and have the power to transform lives. He makes something beautiful out of something ugly, and sin is ugly.
So, if you are reading this, and you’ve tried all the man-made truth only to find it hasn’t the power to forgive and set free, why not consider humbly coming to Christ? Here are five words that will change your life: Jesus, I believe in You!