We know that through Jesus Christ we are delivered from sin and death. Christ tells us that the truth will set us free, and that we reach truth by remaining in His word. How do we define truth and freedom?
Jesus then said to those Jews who believed in him, If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
John 8: 31-32
All the words of the Bible are truth. As expressions of truth, for example, we have the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes. If we abide in such truths, we are freed from sin and death. Personally, I have found truth to mean the opposite of lies and idolatry, and freedom to mean the opposite of dysfunction and oppression. Yet, truth is attainable and freedom is operable within adversarial environments.
Biblical truth also involves more than, or other than, doctrinal declarations. Biblical truth anchors the individual in a relationship with Christ and in a lifestyle of discipleship. While there are doctrinal separations between Catholicism and Orthodoxy, and then again regarding Protestantism and within Protestantism, biblical truths such as the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes have not been altered—and these are the general lifestyle truths of discipleship as practiced by everyday Christians.
Knowing, Speaking, and Living the Truth
It is not insubordination if average Christians study the Bible to know truth and to be set free—free from false authorities and oppressors inside and outside church structures. Perhaps this freedom does not emerge politically, civically, or administratively, but the individual is released spiritually and emotionally from bondage. It is not wrong for Christians to speak the truth. To speak truth, and to speak it with love, is to affirm our faith. Christ spoke the truth. Nonetheless, He did not defend Himself in an argumentative manner against the Pharisees, and He did not answer to a corrupt justice system in which He would not get a fair trial anyway. This is because Christ could not be tricked. He could not be distracted, defocused, or derailed from His mission. He demonstrated the truth of His teachings through His lifestyle, culminating in crucifixion (i.e., no greater love) for mankind. The crucifixion of Christ changed the world in a way which argumentation or court transcripts could never accomplish.
As I read the Bible and notice words and concepts which I never noticed before, I gain a certain mental equilibrium through its truth—through illumination of who is who and what is what and how it all happens. You can persecute and exile me, browbeat and ridicule me, misunderstand and misjudge me, dismiss and ignore me, but you cannot drive me crazy or take the truth away from me once I have seen its radiant light.
You can be the biggest egomaniac in the world (or in the church), but I am not obliged to indulge or pamper you, follow or join you, and defend or excuse you. In other words, I will not and cannot idolize you. And, I will pay a price for this—the price of discipleship. Yet, I am free, or freed. I can only follow, or try to follow, the Ten Commandments. I can only live in accordance with the Beatitudes. I can only worship Christ. Truth is truth, whether or not you and I recognize it and accept it. However, nobody can be a disciple without it.
And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.
Matthew 10: 28