“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'” (ESV – Read the chapter)
Jesus says two really important things here. The first gives us the rubric for having confidence in our fellowship. The second gives us the dual result of this state of affairs.
What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus? What does it look like? How do we know we’re doing it right? Jesus makes things very clear for us here. If you are a follower of Jesus, you are abiding or remaining in His words.
Okay, but what does that mean? It means you are making His words your top priority. And what does that look like? It looks like reading them on a regular basis. It looks like memorizing them systematically. It means making them the controlling narrative of your life. It means that when you are making a big decision, your first act is to run your options through the gamut of His words to see which ones best accord with them. It means you are constantly looking for ways to apply them to whatever your situation happens to be.
If this is your pattern and goal, you can have confidence that you are a follower of Jesus. To claim such a status and not be actively moving in this direction is to not offer enough evidence to make your claim believable.
The second thing Jesus says here is that when we do this we will know the truth. The reason for this is simple: Jesus is the truth. When we make His words the focus of our lives and know them well, we will know Him well.
And when we know the truth, we will find freedom. Why? Because freedom is about living within the walls of reality. When we depart from those, we find our choices more and more restricted. If we try and inhabit a fantasy world, for example, in which we can treat people however we want without consequence, we will find ourselves restricted in the number of people who are willing to put up with us. Our choices for friends will become limited to only those who are willing to endure our treatment. If we try and live in a fantasy world in which we can drive however we want, we will eventually find ourselves restricted in our ability to drive as we lose our license or insurance becomes unaffordable.
The simple fact about life is that truth brings freedom. When we know His words, we know Jesus. When we know Jesus, we know truth. And when we live with truth, we find freedom. Live free.