So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet 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 the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:31-37)
1. There is a difference between "following Jesus" and putting your absolute trust in the Jesus of the Bible. There were Jews following Jesus, and even believing what he was saying, but then, he told them that they were not free, and they stopped believing. Now, if they went to the scriptures at the time, they would see the story of a people who were not free. They had been enslaved to Egypt, but God had set them free. However, they were continually slaves to sin, and they were captured into exile. God did set them free again, but now, because of their disobedience to God, they currently were enslaved to the Romans. They were not free. Jesus was giving them the truth about himself, and they stopped believing in him. Their following Jesus had been the following of a false Christ, even though they were technically following the true Christ. They did not know enough about him, and in this moment, he has revealed "one truth too many" for their hearts to comprehend. They now reject him.
2. To properly disciple, one needs to stay in the word, where the real Jesus is found. Here is part one of the truth that Christ lays upon them. You find the true Jesus in God's word and nowhere else. The act of knowing the real Jesus through his word is called discipleship. This can be done alone with a Bible or with others who are truly seeking to discover the real Jesus.
3. Here is part two of the truth Christ speaks: to know the real Jesus, the truth, frees one from slavery to sin. Romans 8:2 reads, "the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death." The truth that the Jews did not want to hear was that they were slaves, even to sin and death. Many today do not like the doctrine that we are born into slavery to sin and death, and yet the Bible says it is true, and our own experience declares this to be true. Here is Romans 6:16-18:
"Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness."
4. Those who follow a different Jesus deny reality. The Jews denied the reality of being slaves to sin, but they also went further in denying the reality of any physical slavery in their history. Not only will one deny Christ, but one will deny all reality, when he is confronted with the truth.
5. Sin and its slaves will be destroyed. The Son and his slaves will endure forever. We are all born slaves of sin, and Jesus tells us in this passage that the slave does not remain in the house forever. The world of sin is passing away, and all its slaves are passing away, too, but the Son, Christ tells us, does remain forever. If we are slaves of Christ then we will endure forever, just as Christ endures forever. How do we move from being a slave to sin to a slave of Christ?
Christ purchases us. He actually purchases his Church, but we become members of the Church through faith. We believe Christ when he says that we must continue in his word. We believe him when he tells us we are disciples. We believe him when he tells us that all truth is in his word, and that knowing his truth--THE truth--will free us from the bonds of slavery to sin. We believe him when he tells us that we are slaves. This was the hurdle that the Jews--and the visible church today--not to mention the unbelieving world--could not get past. We believe that we are spiritual wretches, that we can do no good of ourselves, that we are totally depraved. This honest self-evaluation is impossible for anyone whom Christ is not changing, not purchasing, not adopting. So, we believe in our desperate state, and we believe that Christ is the only solution for our state. Do you believe this? If you do, you have already been purchased with his blood. The Holy Spirit is now presenting the bill of sale and claiming the property for the rightful owner.
Finally, slavery to Christ is not truly slavery. It is the only time in our lives in which we are truly free to do good, to choose the good, which is God himself. Pure joy and everlasting life comes with this kind of slavery. So, the Son must make you free, if you are ever to be free. If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed, eternally, forever.