Truth is a Person, Not a Statistic
"If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." -John 8:31-32 (NIV)
This phrase "The truth will set you free" is so often taken out of context. I hear it used in reference to encouraging people to confess, to admit to something hidden or correct a lie. While telling the truth is both important and freeing, that's not what this specific verse is about.
This verse is about KNOWING the truth. That Greek word for know, ginosko, is not just about factual awareness. It's about a relationship. Ginosko is that same word that describes how a man knows a woman, in the physically intimate sense.
Let's look at the phrase in context. It's an if-then phrase. Part one: "If you hold to my teaching." Another translation of this phrase "If you abide in me." Both hold and abide have to do with remaining, clinging persisting, rather than a one time confession of fact.
The word for "teaching" come from the Greek logos, a term with many facets. Logos is foundation for many of our modern "logy" words for study (biology, psychology, physiology). It is also forms words like logic and logistics. But most notably, it is the very same word used by this Gospel writer seven chapters earlier to describe Jesus himself ("The word (logos) became flesh"- John 1:14).
The "then phrase": "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." I just have to hit on this word for truth, aletheia in Greek. I love this word so much that it's what I named my daughter. Aletheia has two parts. The first is actually a letter, alpha, the first letter of the Greek alphabet. Even in english "a" acts as a negator when put in front of other words (amoral, atheist, agnostic). The second word, letho/lethano, means to escape notice. So truth in essence is that which cannot or must not be hidden.
So to know that truth is much more than being aware or facts, or admitting to them. It's about having an intimate, enduring relationship with our Lord, the source of all truth. Through this relationship and seeking out of God's heart, God reveals to us the hidden things of our own heart, those hidden things which hold us back from the fullness of God's grace. Getting to know God leads us to better know ourselves. And aligning our will with God's leads to true freedom.
Click here to read John 8.
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