Many times, people look at the “rules of Christianity,” and feel that they are so binding. That they couldn’t enjoy life if they followed them.
But when Jesus tells us how we should live, he doesn’t do so to bind us up. He does it so that we may be set free. He told the Jews here,
If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (31-32)
The Jews reaction is very typical of people today. They replied,
We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?
Taken in today’s context, many people say, “I’m American,” or “I’m Japanese,” (or whatever nationality they might be). “I’m no slave. I’m free to do whatever I like. What do you mean, I’ll be set free if I follow Jesus’ teaching?”
But Jesus tells us,
I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (35-36)
Many people think that if they can sin without being captive to their conscience, that is true freedom. But the truth is, while they may choose to sin in the beginning, eventually they become its slave and cannot stop even if they try. Addiction to porn, gambling, drugs, and alcohol are all obvious examples of this. But we also see people enslaved to their bitterness, or enslaved to their destructive habits that destroy their relationships, their marriages or their friendships.
But when we follow Jesus, he sets us free. We are no longer slaves to these things. Instead, he breaks the chains that bind us to the things that are destroying us, and he shows us a better way. Not only that, he gives us the power to live in this new way. He doesn’t just say, “Do it.” He says, “Take my hand. Let’s take it a step at a time.”
And little by little, change comes, and before you know it, you’re completely set free.
How about you? Have you given up and said, “It’s hopeless. I can’t stop these behaviors that are destroying me? That are destroying my relationships?”
Jesus can set you free. It starts with one word. “Yes.”
“Yes, Jesus. I believe that you love me and that your way is best. So Lord, I want to do things your way. Help me.”
As you say yes to him, you will find healing in your life and your relationships. And then you will know what true freedom really is.