July 4, 2002 • By Ed Wrather
If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. - John 8:31b-32.
Today the United States celebrates its 226th birthday (244th in 2021), which is a celebration of independence, of having freedom. It is a costly freedom bought by the fighting of two wars, which were necessary to win it and to keep it. My ancestors fought in both wars, and one died in the War of Independence. The celebration some two hundred years later is marked with fireworks and barbeques with over 161 million pounds of fireworks detonated last year and 60 million or so people taking part in a barbeque. Since September 11, we have become even more thankful for our freedom and vigilant in maintaining it.
The desire for nations and people to be free has its roots in the desire for freedom from the tyranny of sin. We are born into the slavery of sin and become so used to it that we sometimes are not aware of the chains, which bind us. But that unawareness is often shattered when we encounter those who are free. In the early 1800s, Lemuel Norton between sea voyages shared a bedroom one night with Deacon Weed who prayed before going to bed, “Lord, I am going to bed with this impenitent sinner.” Soon afterwards Norton received Christ as his Savior and became a preacher of the gospel. It is a shocking thing to those in the bondage of sin to hear someone share the truth, of how they were set free through the power of God (Revelation 12:11).
It can be even more shocking for someone in the bonds of sin to expose themselves to the Word of God allowing the truth to enter their hearts and minds. Ronnie Byers was close to committing suicide when he finally picked up and read a Bible opened to Psalm 103:12 which says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” The truth grabbed hold of Ronnie’s heart, which resulted in his repentance, salvation, and reconciliation with his wife. Ronnie eventually became a preacher of the gospel, he once tried so very hard to ignore.
The truth is not just for lost people. If we are His disciples, we will not just occasionally pick up a Bible and read a few verses. Instead, we will abide in His Word, and there we will find that the truth indeed has set us free and will keep us free!