Then Jesus said to those Judeans who had believed him, “If you continue to follow my teaching, you are really my disciples and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” “We are descendants of Abraham,” they replied, “and have never been anyone’s slaves! How can you say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “I tell you the solemn truth, everyone who practices sin is a slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the family forever, but the son remains forever. So if the son sets you free, you will be really free. (John 8:31-36, NET)
Jesus says we can be set free if we know the truth. But He also says that knowing the truth means to believe in Him and to hold to His teaching. There is no other way to be really free. This is because there are only two kingdoms in the world—Christ's Kingdom and Satan's. If we are not in Christ's Kingdom and under His care and protection, then we are under Satan's dominion, whether we know it or not. Most people, like the Jews in these verses, don't want to admit that they are not free. But Jesus said that the one who lives in sin—the one who lives apart from God and His Son—is a slave to sin and the devil.
The problem with the religious people in Jesus’ day is no different from now. People become defensive when it is suggested that they are not yet free. They may attend every church event, listen to Christian radio and read all the latest inspirational books, but foolishly excuse away their grudges, addictions, penchant for gossip, and uncontrolled emotions as “just being human.” But Jesus says that those who practice sin are slaves to it. Jesus freedom goes deeper than changing our Sunday morning habits and radio station preferences. Freedom requires deep and humbling deliverance, and a tearing down of old mindsets.
When people admit their need, Jesus begins to work quickly. But when they pretend they have no needs, God can’t respond. Some people come to our churches and get immediate and permanent help. They humble themselves and admit their need, are willing to fight and sacrifice their old lives and God responds by blessing them. Then they decide to remain on that path no matter what comes against them. They are the ones who are set free indeed, and they are the only ones who can truly know the truth.