In John 8 Jesus uttered the famous words, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free,” to a group of followers.
Incredibly, the people replied with indignation, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and we have never been in bondage to anyone.” Really? What about those 400 years in Egypt? What about the Roman empire that currently seems to think you are its subjects? These people were so blinded by their own religious pride that they couldn’t even see their own bondage.
I don’t see much freedom in today’s church either. Oh, like those listening to Jesus that day, we would protest that statement. But bondage is indeed abundant.
There is bondage to a religious system that requires us to toe the line or be cast aside. Fit in, say the right words, don’t question the status quo. We give lip service to the idea of grace, but it is obvious by how we treat those who don’t measure up we aren’t really serious. The cruel master of religion has left many casualties through the centuries.
But Jesus promised freedom. He acknowledged in the following verses that we are slaves to sin. That’s just a fact. “If you commit sin,” Jesus said, “Then you are a slave of sin.” The good news, though, is that the Son has the power to pardon, to free the slaves. No religion necessary, just a spiritual “emancipation proclamation.”
Religion leaves us guilty, condemned, and in bondage. Religion leaves us in denial, thinking we are the slaves of no man, not noticing then shackles on our hands and feet and hearts. Religion is the enemy of freedom in Christ. Religion is the antithesis to everything Jesus taught.
But don’t just walk away from religion empty handed and hard-hearted. Instead, embrace the true freedom – the unconditional pardon – only God’s Son can offer.