“As he was saying these things, many believed in him. So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free?’” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:30–36)
Is there a single word more inspiring than freedom? Is there a principle that has more strongly motivated human beings throughout history? The blood-stained beaches of Normandy, reverent rooms of Independence Hall, and stark monuments of abolition efforts prove that the song of freedom is a chorus no power in history has silenced. However, despite its prominence in human pursuits and passions, freedom is often not fully grasped.
Oxford Languages offers one definition of freedom as: “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.” Most of us would relate with this definition. We have autonomy in our daily tasks, can freely pursue our desires, and live in a nation where freedom of speech and inalienable rights are enshrined in the Constitution. A second definition of freedom from Oxford Language is “the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.”
However, assessing these definitions with reality, despite our political freedom, it is abundantly clear that we are slaves to ravaging sin.
This mass incarceration does not originate at the societal level. Our own arms and feet are shackled. We are individually imprisoned. As the above passage from John illustrates, the direct cause of our enslavement is the perverse and pervasive power of sin in our lives. Yet, this sin is not an independent entity. Sin is a force used by Satan to enslave us as he ultimately seeks to destroy and distort all of God’s good creation.
In light of this reality, it is tempting to wave the white flag. If we are in shackles, then we might as well embrace our captivity. We choose sin time after time, believing that one day it will fulfill us. And often, we do not just accept our sins—we love them. Properly acknowledging this requires profound humility and recognition of our fallen state. It reveals to us the incredible depth of a problem that cannot be fixed on our own.
Liberation from these shackles necessitates a twofold acceptance of truth. Firstly, we must recognize our inability to free ourselves. Secondly, this utter depravity must convince us of our need for a Savior and His incomprehensible gift of salvation. As Jesus stated in Luke 4:18,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Christ came to set the captives free. He is the embodiment of liberty in the face of oppression, sight in the midst of blindness, and good news in the throes of despair. If we truly believe this, then the Scriptures that reveal His triumph over sin are uniquely powerful and should be earnestly shared with others. In a shackled society, the truth of Christ is the key to liberation. Let us pray that we never misplace that key, for it is the truth that sets us free.