“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32 NIV)
This is a common saying among many believers and non-believers alike. I’ve used it many times. Though, to be honest, I just thought it sounded good…and spiritual. You know, Jesus said it, so it must mean something. But I really never put much thought into it. That is, until I was doing some journaling Sunday afternoon.
I recently started a writing project that I hope will turn into a book. In it, I’m exploring how we can each see Christ working in our very own lives–right there on paper, in black and white–by going through our own lives and looking for Him there. (More on this to come some time later.) Anyway, so I was looking back through my last few months, looking for the ‘fingerprints of God’, and boom! I hit paydirt!
Now, I’m sure a whole lot could, and has been, written on this passage, and I’m sure most of it is much more theologically sound than what I’ve recently discovered about it. But, nonetheless, it has made a great difference in my life.
Let me explain…
The “You” and the Real You
Folks, we have an enemy. Whether we like to talk about him or not isn’t the point, it’s simply a fact. If you believe in God, angels, Jesus, the church, then you pretty much automatically have to believe in the devil, demons, darkness, etc. Even if “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2 NASB) didn’t exist, there are other enemies assaulting us, day in and day out. Such as: ego, pride, socio-political forces, insecurities, emotional abuses, drug addictions, mental illnesses, etc. (etc. etc.) that are constantly against us.
These forces, whether spiritual, psychological, or social, have a way of placing false identities on us. The best way to describe what I mean is by an example from my own life.
I’ve had a series of battles with addiction and depression that left me homeless and without much dignity left within. When you become an IV drug user (any type of illicit drug abuser, really), a stigma is placed upon you by society, by the medical profession, and worst of all, by yourself. You end up having to do some pretty bad things to get your dope so you don’t get sick.
Certain words, titles really, begin ringing against your heart’s ear, like, Junkie…Theif…Worthless…Waste of Space…etc. When someone hears or thinks something like one of these, as a title, the identity of that person begins to get clouded and distorted.
Well, the title that rang the loudest in my ears was Untrustworthy.
This title has defined much of my life these past few years. I saw myself this way, so inevitably, other people saw me this way. There’s a strange phenomenon (I think it’s spiritual) that somehow what we believe about ourselves, we’ll display certain traits and actions–how we “carry ourselves”–and others will treat us as such.
This is where the “accuser of the brethren” loves to come in and lodge these titles. What makes a lie so effective, is that a good one will have a hint of truth within it. The thing is, our enemy has been doing this for thousands of years. He’s older, smarter, and more powerful than us (within ourselves, that is). So he knows what makes us tick–he knows where to poke and prod.
The “hint of truth” in the title I was carrying was that, yes, while I was still rebelling against God, living in sin, doing drugs, I was generally untrustworthy. But genuine repentance, by the blood of Jesus Christ, washes me (and you) clean. I am no longer an “addict” (another title I carried), I’m a child of God!
So what did God do to free me of this?
He tells me the truth! And it set me free.
The Truth that Leads to Freedom
What God did with me to bring this into reality for me was that He placed me into certain situations where a whole lot of trust and faith were placed in me–an almost unbearable amount of trust, at times! The lie was, “You’re going to screw this us, you’re an untrustworthy drug addict.”
But the truth is my true identity in Christ. God tells me, “See, you did just fine there, huh? Now, here’s yet another opportunity to walk in your true identity as My son.”
The truth is in Christ. For in Him, we are. Only because He is the great I AM.
We must take a look around at what the “lie” is for us, the “title” that has been placed upon us by the enemy, society, the flesh, or something similar. We must take a leap of faith and believe what Jesus had to say about us. He called us His brothers/sisters when He said after His resurrection, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” (John 20:17 NIV)