YOU SHALL KNOW THE TRUTH
THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE
In John 8:32 we
read where Jesus spoke His famous words, And you shall know the truth, and
the truth shall make you free. What did He mean by the truth setting us
There are different angles by which we could understand this phrase. The first
is understanding the true path to eternal life that will free us from the penalty
of death that we have earned as the wages of sin. Along with repentance this includes
accepting Jesus Christ as our Saviour for the forgiveness of our sins. This is
probably its primary meaning because Jesus went on to say in verse 36:
Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.
Another angle that some people have applied to this phrase of the truth setting
us free is in the context of owning up to what we've done wrong when we're in
trouble and accepting responsibility for our mistakes.
We see this played out in TV shows and movies when people cover up their mistakes
with lies and then finally come clean with the truth. A weight comes off their
shoulders and they are free from the terrible burden of a guilty conscience, even
though they may have to pay the price for their mistakes. I remember a humourous
twist that was applied to this biblical verse in a school diary that I once had
back in high school which said the following in one of its thoughts for the day
The truth shall set you free but first it will make you miserable.
In this article I'd like to look at this verse from another angle. Now, we fall
victim to sin because we basically believe certain lies that accompany those sins.
In order to be freed from sin we need to recognize those lies and counter those
lies with the truth.
There are a whole host of different lies and different lines that Satan uses on
us to lure us into sin. In the sermonette time today I'd just like to briefly
look at two of the most common lies as examples of this point of countering the
lies of sin with the truth. Those two lies are -:
1) Sin is good for me.
2) I can't myself.
Let's have a look now at the first one Sin is good for me.
William Backus and Marie Chapian in their book Why Do I Do Want I Don't
Want To Do? make these very fine comments on identifying and defeating the
lies of sin with the truth of God. They write:
Sin depends upon and grows out of the believing of certain lies. The genesis
of sin is untruth. The genesis of neuroses is also untruth. It is the root of
drunkenness as well as depression, the root of stealing as well as overeating.
common lies with which you may be familiar. The first is
"X" is good for me. Sin results from the misbelief that something contrary
to the Word of God is good for you.
"X" can be stealing from a department store ('I deserve to have...');
or hitting the kid next door ('I can't control myself'); or skipping school when
you're not supposed to ('It's good for me to do exactly as I please'); or lying
to your wife ('I must be right. I must please people at all times'); or innumerable
other sins. Sin may seem like something good for you because it will pamper you
in some way, make you feel good, save you from trouble or embarrassment, flatter
you or promote you. If it promotes you, how can God say it isn't good for you?
Certainly God must not understand how tough things are for you.
Possibly you tell yourself a particular sin is good for you because you
'need' it in your lifeyou can't do without it, it is fundamental to your
happiness. So you steal that record from the record department, you lie on your
time sheet at work or cheat on your income tax because you believe 'it's good
So "X" looks good for today. You're only human, after all. And
you just don't have any resistance; surely God can understand that. (You really
don't want resistance because you'd rather believe "X" is good for you.)
This is how sin deceives. And according to Romans 7:11, sin kills.
"X" is not good for you. "X" is lethal. It kills. Jesus met
"X" with the truth. The devil came to Him and said, 'Making bread out
of stones is good for you. It will prove you're the Son of God. No one will doubt
you after that.' Satan also tried to convince Jesus that jumping off the temple's
pinnacle [and worshipping him] was good for Him. He told Him, 'It will prove to
the people you really are the Messiah. What can it hurt? It will be good for you
because then I'll give you the kingdom without the cross.
Jesus met every temptation by challenging its accompanying lie. He said
in effect, 'That isn't true, Satan. The truth is, thou shalt not tempt the Lord
thy God.' Jesus demonstrated by His example that we should live only by the words
that proceed out of the mouth of God. We can take the first step toward defeating
temptation by refusing to put ourselves into a place where we listen to Satan's
Let's a look at a classic example from the Bible of someone who fell for Satan's
big lie that sin is good for me. Let's now read Genesis 3 and we'll read
from verse one.
Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord
God had made. And he said to the woman, 'Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat
of every tree of the garden'?' And the woman said to the serpent, 'We may eat
the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is
in the midst of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat it, nor shall you
touch it, lest you die.' Then the serpent said to the woman, 'You will not surely
die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and
you will be like God, knowing good and evil.' So when the woman saw that the tree
was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree
desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave
to her husband with her, and he ate (verses 1-6).
Notice what Eve was telling herself -:
1) She reasoned it was good for food.
2) Hey, it looked good.
3) It could make one wise. Wow, it has to be good.
Result: She ate the food as did Adam and they were banished from the Garden of
Eden and mankind would suffer for the next 6 000 years.
If we are honest with ourselves we can usually think through and see the consequences
of our actions will always result in a kickback that will hurt us if we go against
what God says we should do. There might be a short term pleasure but it will be
followed by long term pain and regret.
We might believe in our minds that sin is not good for us but do we believe it
in our hearts or do we believe that the benefits of a certain sins will outweigh
the hurt it will produce? When we are tempted what are our choices telling us
about whether we believe a certain sin is good for us or not?
We need to call on God's help to see through the lie that our wrong actions are
good for us and call on His help to be more and more convicted that only His way
is the right way to go when we are sorely tempted to try it our own way instead
of God's way.
The second big lie I'd like to look at today is I can't help myself.
This lie says, I've got to do it. I am helpless to stop myself. The
temptation is bigger than I am. This is a lie that is particularly potent
with those who have addictive behaviours. It's often accompanied by another lie
Just one more time and then I'll repent good and proper.
Oscar Wilde once jokingly said, I can resist everything but temptation.
For me, I can resist everything but chocolate. Some people who have given up smoking
and started again have told themselves, I can't make it. I'm too weak to
be able to quit cigarettes. Many people with besetting sins often find themselves
believing the same lie but what does the Bible say?
First of all, let's look at 1 Corinthians 10:13. In this verse Paul writes
the following: No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common
to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond
what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that
you may be able to bear it.
God won't give us more than we can bear. The temptation is not too big for us
to resist. As an aside, this promise from God to not give us more than we are
able to bear is the reason why suicide and euthanasia are simply not an option
for a christian.
In Philippians 4:13 the Apostle Paul wrote: I can do all things through
Christ who strengthens me. Paul says I can do all things through Jesus
not I can't help myself. Now God is ready and willing to help us if we commit
to following His lead and not giving up regardless of the besetting problem we
might be fighting whether it's anger, sexual lust, gluttony, smoking, alcoholism
I remember when I was having a very difficult time with one particular problem
I was encouraged by a couple of stories that I'd just like to quickly share
with you on this point of not giving up.
In his book The Friendship Factor Alan Loy McGuiness writes: In
friendship, as in anything else, you will succeed if you are undeterred by failures
and disappointments, and keep trying. It is seldom noted that Babe Ruth missed
and missed and missed the ball. In fact, he struck out 1330 times, a record in
futility unapproached by any other player in the history of the game. But what
people remember is that he hit 714 home runs, a record unequalled for 40
years. Someone once asked him the secret of his success at the plate. 'I just
keep going up there and swinging at them,' he replied (p.187).
The other story is one I have had the opportunity to witness personally. Our Queensland
state cricket team entered the Sheffield Shield competition way back in 1926.
It took Queensland a very long 69 years to win its first ever Sheffield Shield,
which finally happened in 1994/95. We had come second a heartbreaking total of
14 times up to then.
So often we made a great start but would fade away at the end of the season
when we were always scheduled with away games. Queensland would often missed out
on the final or have to play the final away from home because we finished
second. It became this incredible psychological barrier to win at the latter end
of the competition because we were scheduled with so many away games at the end
of the season.
One player once said that it was the time of year when the monkey on Queensland's
back becomes a gorilla. There was also the joke around that Buck Rogers' first
question when he woke up in the 25th century was "Has Queensland won
the Sheffield Shield yet?" Even I would find myself looking up into the heavens
and saying, Oh God, I dearly want to see us win the Shield just once before
Well, in the end, we finally pushed through that barrier of winning away from
home and finished at the top of the table in 1994/95. Not only did we host the
final for the first time but we won it by an absolutely huge margin. Only a mere
two years later we won our second title and we did it by actually winning the
final away from home. In the past nine years we have now won a total of five times
after taking 69 years to win the first one.
The lesson from that is that it can take just one good victory to break the drought
and completely transform any situation once a person's confidence is recharged
by a good win.
In conclusion, to be set free from sin we need to find out what lies we are telling
ourselves and counter those with the truth of God's word. The plain truth is that
sin is not good for us and we can overcome sin through Jesus Christ who strengthens
us and can set us free.