Tony Evans - The Power of Truth
There is another kind of slavery that hold people hostage. It is a slavery that keeps them from being what they were created to be. It is a slavery that holds them bound to illegitimate incarceration, and that is the slavery that Jesus talks about in John chapter 8. He says in verse 31, "So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed him, 'If you continue in my Word, then you are truly disciples of mine.'" Verse 32, "And you will know the truth and the truth will make you free". He speaks to people who had believed in him. So these were already Christians, but they were Christians who needed still to be set free because having accepted Jesus Christ did not remove automatically all of the things that held them illegitimately hostage.
To be free means to be released from something that ought not to be shackling you, limiting you so that you can be what you were designed to be. And Jesus tells them that their salvation has set them up for an experience of freedom, but the unfortunate reality is that many people still find themselves illegitimately shackled as spiritual POWs, prisoners of war. They find themselves behind enemy lines unable to get free. They have accepted Jesus Christ like many who had believed in him had, but something was still holding them back, limiting them, keeping them from fully realizing the greatness of their salvation. For many there is a gap between the time of salvation and the time of their liberation; that when they receive Jesus Christ there was an Emancipation Proclamation, but what they need was a Juneteenth experience because there was a gap of time between what was done legally and what was experienced relationally.
And the question is, how do we get released, freed up from the strongholds? That's the spiritual word for what the secular world calls addictions. A stronghold is an addiction that has a spiritual component attached to it. That is something spiritual has grabbed hold of something that either is legitimate or was legitimate and made it illegitimate, and so it's a stronghold. It's something that you can't buckle because there is a spiritual component, and that means that all your human efforts can't really get you free because the spiritual component has not been either understood or addressed and what you need is 2.000 union soldiers. You need a power to set you free, to set us free from whatever it is. It can be an addiction of drugs. It can be an addiction of alcohol. It can be an addiction of profanity, not being able to control what you say; an addiction of identity.
You pick the stronghold, the addiction that has been wrapped in this spiritual vise grip like a snake that's wrapped around your thinking, so that no matter how many promises you make, how many new year's resolutions you make it just won't let you go; and what many people do, including Christians, to try to address this is they decorate their cells. They're in jail. They have concluded, "I'm never going to get out of this, so at least let me decorate myself so I look good being an addict". So we dress it up with church. We dress it up with piety. We dress it up with Bible study. We got a good-looking cell, but we're still in jail. Others seek to manage their slavery. You're trying to manage it. "If I can just hold it hostage for a while so it doesn't just break out".
Jesus recognized that there is the need. Even when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, he had to tell some folk, "Loose him and let him go". He still needed to be free, still needed to be released. And even if that's not you, you know somebody who's in that situation who has something tattooed on their souls that they can't get rid of, that they want to shake, that they need release and relief from. We find ourselves often in spiritual quicksand, where the harder we try to get out the deeper we sink and the need to be free. Jesus gives us the clue, the secret, if you will, the guidance that we need when he says in verse 32, "And you will know the truth and the truth will make you free". It's like he's saying, "If you get this thing called the truth, it'll force you to freedom. It's going to make you free".
So if I can say it another way, if you don't have the truth, you may have to settle for being a slave. The first thing he says is that truth exist. We've talked about that already. There is such thing as truth, an absolute standard by which reality is measured. The truth that exists is knowable. "You shall know the truth". So this truth that Jesus is speaking of that sets people free is not hidden information. "You shall know the truth". And the way you know that you really know it is that you're finding yourself being freed by it. So he's not merely talking about intellectual acuity, he's not merely talking about intellectual information, he's talking about transformational data. "You shall know the truth". And the way you know you know it is that you are being released, freed by it. So let's go a little deeper. He has told them in verse 31, "If you continue in my Word, if you continue in my Word..."
Now, they've already believed in him, they've already accepted him, they're already on their way to heaven, but he says the key to freedom beyond your initial salvation is continuing in his Word, which will give you the truth that will set you free. The word continue is our keyword. It is the word that means to abide. Now, we've explained that strongholds is more, that's more than an addiction, a secular concept of just being owned by circumstance or substance, but it has to do with the spiritual reality. That's because of what Jesus says next. They said, "We are Abraham's descendants," verse 33, "and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you said you will become free"? Jesus says, "Truly, truly I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever. The son does remain forever".
He says the reason that folks aren't free is because sin, which is a spiritual issue, has a vise grip. It's not just a bad habit, it is an enslaved situation. You know you need to be free when your sin becomes your identity. What I've done is I've taken the sin and I've made it normal. In other words, I've turned it into my identity. That's why you put I am in front of it because it has become such a vise grip on the soul that it is now how you view who you are, and he says you become a slave to it. They say, "Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute". "Wait a minute," they say. "We're Abraham's descendants". Talk about Father's Day. "We are descendants of our father Abraham. How do you say we are a slave"? They say, "Don't you know who we are and where we're from"? Nothing will keep you locked down in spiritual slavery like having a wrong view of yourself. They said, "We are Abraham's seed. We have never been enslaved".
Now, right then they're enslaved to Rome. They have been enslaved to Babylon. They have been enslaved to Persia. They have been enslaved to Egypt. In other words, they weren't dealing in reality, you know. They were turning a biological reality and thinking that gave them spiritual privilege. They had a spiritual miscalculation. And when you have a spiritual miscalculation that winds up causing you to lead to an erroneous spiritual conclusion, you won't get the spiritual help to give you the spiritual release that you are looking for. Jesus has to tell them, "You are not using the right standard for the freedom that you need".
One of the reasons that we are held hostage by all of this stuff that we're facing today, racism and culturalism and classism and political conflict, is that we don't continue in his Word. Oh, we may get started with it with an invocation, we may bring God's name, we may even quote a Scripture, but what we don't do is abide. He says, "If you continue, if you abide, if you hang out in my Word," he says, "freedom is attached to that; by hearing it, learning it, memorizing it, quoting it, referring to it, and most of all utilizing it. If you continue in my Word; if it becomes a way of life, a mindset, an orientation, a perspective; if it's how you roll; if you continue in my Word, you want to know what I think about it, how I feel about it, what I say about it, and you interact with me and my Word, then the truth will be activated in your experience".
Satan's goal is to get you to contaminate the truth, get me to contaminate the truth so that the truth loses its pop. It loses its ability to do what it does. So here it is. You're a believer, you're saved, you're on your way to heaven, but you're incarcerated in some form or fashion. That's why some of these things we try to fix don't get fixed because we keep it in a secular addiction category and not in a spiritual sin category. He says, "If you will continue in my Word, you will know the truth and the truth will make you free". It'll make it happen. And then he gives you the kicker. The kicker is in verse 36. "So if the son makes you free, you will be free indeed". So if the son makes you free, you will be free indeed. Indeed mean sure enough, for real. You can bank on it.
"If the son makes you free..." Well, wait a minute. I'm confused because he told me, "You will know the truth and the truth will make you free". But verse 36 says, "If the son makes you free, you will be free indeed". So which is it? Is it the truth making me free, or is it the son making me free? Well, in verse 31 says, "If you continue in my Word, the truth will set you free". So what you and I need to understand is the dynamic relationship between the written Word and the living Word. There is a dynamic, cooperative, unified empowerment when Jesus takes the Word, makes it his Word for your problem. "If the son sets you free, you will be free indeed". Why must the son make you free? Well, I'm going to get a little ahead of myself and let me show you verse 44. "You are of your father the devil and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him".
Okay. What holds us hostage is Satan's ability to keep a lie going. He has impeccable ability to make you treat the lie like it is the truth. So you need somebody stronger than him to override him for what he's doing to you and me. You are no competition for him, but we know somebody who is. In the previous verses he says the slave that's in the house is different than the son that's in the house. The slave is a temporary servant; the son is an inheritor of the benefits of the Father. Jesus says, "I'm the son and I have final authority in God's house. So if you're being held hostage illegitimately, because I have authority in the Father's house I can overrule anything illegitimately holding you hostage in the house". So he says, "If the son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed".
Now, let me say something very important. It is the truth that sets you free, not what you believe to be true. You got to get this. It is the truth that sets you free, not what you believe. I don't care how long you've believed it. I don't care how long your mom and daddy reinforced it. I don't care how long the culture agrees with you. I don't care how long your siblings or what they have to say about it. It's not what you believe. He say, "It's what I say". And that's why you need to know 2 Corinthians chapter 10. Let me refer to this. This probably will come up other times in our series, but it is a critical passage for your freedom or for you to help somebody else get free.
2 Corinthians chapter 10. He says, verse 3, "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh," the battle. "For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh," that is human ability, "but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ". He says we are destroying, he says we are getting rid of fortresses. You know what a fort is. A fort is an encampment that has been established to keep things out. It's a fort. He says we are bringing down every lofty thing. What the enemy puts up is a lofty thing. Why? 'Cause he wants to block the knowledge of God from getting through. He doesn't want God's perspective to bleed over into your thinking, so he erects a lofty thing.
What are the lofty things that he erects so he can keep you and me as a slave, breaking up our lives, breaking up our peace, breaking up our marriages, breaking up our plans for that, our calling, our divine purpose? What is the lofty thing? He tells you what the lofty thing is. Verse 5, "We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God". Speculations. You know what a speculator is. A speculation is how you feel about an issue, what you think about an issue. Do you know we spend a lot of our time blocking God out because of what we speculate, how we feel, what we think, what we were taught, how we were raised? That created a partition that blocked out the knowledge of God. An interesting verse in Scripture says, "You do nullify the Word of God with your traditions". God says, "You can cancel me out".
Did you know, talk about canceled culture. You can cancel God out by what you think, by your speculation. God doesn't want you to speculate when he has spoken. He doesn't want you to debate when he has spoken. Yes, clarity to understand, but the idea is to know the truth because that's the only thing he's going to use to free us up. He will only use the truth. He won't use your speculation, he won't use your orientation, and he certainly won't use your edumacation 'cause some of us have educated ourselves in the speculation. We become brilliantly ignorant. Now, here's the kicker. Here's what really will turn it on.
If you want to speed it up, verse 6 of 2 Corinthians 10. "And we are ready to punish all disobedience whenever your obedience is complete," whenever your obedience is complete. So you continue in his Word not merely by knowing it but by implementing it whenever your obedience, but here's the word is complete. So partial obedience won't bring spiritual deliverance. You have to finish it. Now, you may say, "You don't know my problem. You don't know my struggle. You don't know how deep this is. You don't know how long it's been there. And mine is different than hers, and hers is different than mine and yet, you don't understand".
So I don't know what your situation is, but there's one power source for whatever your unique situation is; and that is the truth that you continue in, which engages the son who brings about resurrection, and the resurrection is used of Jesus. Because when Jesus rose, they say he has risen indeed. He's risen sure enough. He can resurrect the situation. When you got saved he signed your emancipation proclamation, but there is a gap between when he signed it and when 2.000 troops show up to activate it because there is a system that's been so used to being there that doesn't want to let you go. But when the son shows up, he's able to take the mess that's held us hostage and say to us, "Free at last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty, you are free at last".
Just like a seed has life-giving reality inside of it that allows it to grow and to transform itself into something larger and more productive; there is life in God's Word, the power of life to transform a person from where they are into what they ought to be, setting them free from anything that would hold them illegitimately hostage. The power of God's Word when it's released by our activating it through obedience can transform you and me and a world that needs to be delivered.