In John 8, Jesus made an incredible, profound statement. He said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. . . . So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free” (John 8:32, 36 NLT).
You’ll be really free. What was he talking about? What does he set me free from?
The Bible says that Jesus wants to set you free in three dimensions.
1. Jesus wants to set you free from the pain of your past.
That’s a good thing. I’ve discovered the number one cause of unhappiness is people who are stuck in the past. They’re holding on to hurts. They can’t relate to the present because they’re still reacting to the past.
I’ve discovered that there are two kinds of things that people have a hard time getting over – resentment and regret. Jesus wants to set you free from both of them.
First, he wants to set you free from the pain of resentment. Everybody has been hurt by other people. You’ve been hurt many, many times. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally.
What you do with that hurt will determine whether you live freely or whether you live in a prison of pain.
He also wants to help you get over the pain of regret. Not only have people hurt you in life, you’ve blown it. You’ve hurt other people.
And as a result of that, because nobody’s perfect and we’ve all made mistakes, we all carry regret.
And guilt is a terrible thing to carry around. It leaves you miserable. It saps your energy. You end up punishing yourself. And you end up playing the if-only game.
“If only I knew then what I know now . . . If only I could just erase the past . . . If only I could turn back the clock . . . If only I could pull that bad mistake back, that stupid decision, I would do it so differently today.” We live in the prison of regret and guilt. “I wish I’d listened sooner.”
When we fill our lives with regret, we can’t live with that, so we try to blame other people, we try to pass the buck. But most of the time we just try to bury our guilt, bury our shame, bury our regrets. We can do it by booze, with pills, or a half dozen other things. Most of the time, people will try to bury it by staying busy. One of the reasons some of us are such workaholics is that we don’t like the way we feel when we’re quiet.
God specializes in new beginnings. God does not want you walking around with a load of guilt. God doesn’t want you to carry around guilt.
That’s why he came up with a plan to relieve it. He sent Jesus Christ to earth to die for all of your sins, all of the selfishness, the the lack of thoughtfulness, the unkindness.
2. Jesus wants to set you free from the pressures of today.
That’s the second dimension of freedom. Do you ever feel like your life is out of control? Do you ever feel like it’s out of balance? Do you ever get tired of just thinking about all the things you’ve got to do? Do you ever wish you could just resign from the human race for just one week so you could do whatever you really wanted to do?
Life is getting more complex and life is speeding up. It is definitely getting faster and it’s certainly isn’t as simple as it used to be. We’ve even come up with a whole new vocabulary of terms to describe our stress and pressures of today’s living.
Sometimes the stress gets so heavy you feel like you’re at a breaking point. You feel like you’re going to go under for the last time.
When you’re under pressure you need two things. You need strength and you need stability. God offers them both to you.
Jesus Christ has all the power you need. The same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead can raise you up from your problems.
If Jesus Christ can raise a dead person, he can raise a dead marriage. He can raise a dead career. He can raise a dead relationship. He can do anything. He’s got all the power you need.
You don’t have enough power to make it. That’s why you’re tired all the time. You need a source stronger than you to make it in life.
3. Jesus wants to set you free from pessimism about tomorrow.
What is it that causes people to lose hope? Why is it that we lose hope so quickly? When you boil it all down there are two reasons why people lose hope.
First, we lose hope when we’re facing a situation that needs to be changed and we can’t change it.
And second, we lose hope and become pessimistic when we don’t know the purpose that God made us for.
The Bible is very clear that everybody on this earth was created for a purpose. The sad thing is, most people go through life never discovering either: (a) a relationship with God, or (b) the purpose he put them on earth for.
Hope is essential for life. You can live 40 days without food, three days without water, and eight minutes without air. But you can’t live one second without hope. The moment you lose hope you’re no longer living, you’re just existing.
When inevitable tough times come into your life, to whom will you turn? Where is your source of hope? Where is your rock?
We are living in a time when change is happening at a greater and greater rate, so fast that nobody in this room could possibly keep up with all the changes going on in the world. In a time when the world is changing rapidly and everything’s up in the air, you need what Alvin Toffler in his book calls “islands of stability.” These islands are the things that never change in your life, some emotional and spiritual anchors that hold you down when everything is flying apart.
God has a gift for you through Jesus Christ. It is freedom, freedom from the pain of your past and the pressures of today – including pessimism, worry, doubt, and fear about tomorrow.
But a gift is worthless if you never receive it. You’ve got to take it. Would you like a fresh start with God? You can have it today!