Having grown up in a Christian home, I have had the fortune of memorizing scripture, and being given the foundation from which to know Jesus and to follow Him. One of the verses that I can remember studying countless times in the past is John 8:35-36: “Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
This last weekend, I had the pleasure of hearing Brian Pruitt, all-American football player for Central Michigan University. During his message, the Spirit spoke to me a different perspective on this verse.
What Most People Teach About This Verse
You see, what most people teach about this verse, including myself in the past, is that the Son, Jesus Christ, will set us free from our sin. That is still a true statement. Through the redemptive work of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we are no longer held to the penalty of sin, which is eternal death and separation from God.
However, I think that what this verse means in present day is missed quite frequently.
There Is Freedom Today
I have even heard this said that there is freedom today through Christ. Again, this is very true. However, what is that freedom from? Surely it is not sin, because well, I am still alive and breathing, and due to my sinful nature, I will continue to sin until the day I die. This is why I need a work of grace that is greater than the sin in my life. Please don’t hear me say that this is an excuse for sin; rather, it is just a reality check.
However, I believe this verse is something deeper. You see, the sin in our lives, whether it is our sin, or the consequence of how others’ sin, has impacted us and leaves a mark. Some people refer to this as baggage, others as success barriers. Whatever your perspective on it is actually unimportant, but the reality is that is there for us to deal with.
In my own life, I have had to deal with depression for many years, even before I knew that I was dealing with. As a result, I have felt how strongly this holds onto my at times. No matter what I try to do, it seems I just cannot shake it, and there is something always holding me back.
Someone I used to work for told me it sounded like self-sabotage, which I had never heard of before, at least not in those words. However, it makes complete sense today. It really has to do with the messages we tell ourselves, and what we allow ourselves to believe, about both ourselves, others, and the world around us.
Explore A Little Bit
Ok, so let me give you an example. Close your eyes and think of something you would love to accomplish. Choose something that is a big stretch for you, not something you could easily do. Shoot for the moon with this goal, allow yourself to dream. Go ahead, close your eyes and do the exercise, I’ll wait for you.
Now, you may have a voice telling you reasons why you cannot do it. Whether you are not good enough, smart enough, have enough time, have enough energy, have the right skills…you get the picture. Those are the voices I am talking about. I believe every one of us has them, and it’s just a matter of when they get louder and start affecting our lives.
Freedom From Our Own Limitations
I recently read a great book that discussed this phenomenon a little bit by a psychiatrist, Dr. Larry Perkus. He said this is a completely normal response to something that hurt in the past, and is designed to keep us from experiencing that pain in the present and future.
The challenge is that this defense mechanism can really inhibit our ability to live this life as God has intended for us, and fulfilling His purpose for our lives. When Jesus said in John 8 that he sets us free, it is free from all of the bonds of sin, including these internal messages from earlier in life.
What does this mean for us? It simply means that this is not something we can overcome on our own. Sure, there are many tools and strategies for working on these internal messages, like the AFT or NLP, affirmations, and meditation. However, God is the one who restores all things, and without Him at the center of whatever technique we utilize, we will always come back to impacts of sin.
I love what Joel 2:25 says, “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten.” You see, God had sent locusts to decimate the land because the Israelites had turned away from God (again). However, when they turned back to Him, God promised to restore what had been taken from them.
This is a great promise for us. No matter what we may have missed, no matter what sin has impacted our lives, whether our own or others, God’s promise is that He can restore our lives back to us. If we look at Job, and see how God blessed him after all the testing that he endured, we see that when God restores, it is not simply replacing what we had, but actually giving us something better.
I hope this message encourages you that there is freedom from whatever chains are holding you today. If you feel like some chain that you cannot see is holding you, please reach out to me, I would be happy to chat with you and help you learn the truth of what God offers, and help you start experiencing life the way He intended.