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"The Truth Shall Make You Free," John 8:31-32

John 8:31-32

How often I have heard this scripture used out of context. I believe I've even heard it used by atheists. The full context of the scripture reveals the true power of this statement.
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (verses 31-32)
 There is an even broader context for this discussion which starts at the beginning of the chapter.

Jesus is found in the temple, teaching. For Latter-day Saint context, a temple is place where those who have prepared themselves for sacred instruction and to perform ordinances of eternal significance. It is a holy place on all counts where one should prepare both spiritually and physically to enter therein. A major facet of that preparation is the cleansing of sin that one must undertake. Scriptures such as are found in Psalms 79:1, or maybe even 1 Corinthians 3:17, help to illustrate the sacred nature of a temple and how one ought not to defile it by entering it unworthily.

Now in contrast, the scribes and pharisees find a woman who was in the very act of committing adultery and bring her into the temple. The modern world will not appreciate how serious a thing is adultery, but it is second only to murder in gravity, primarily because it tampers with the powers of life itself. So for these rulers of the Jews to bring into the temple one "taken in adultery" is an issue of grave significance and gross disrespect for the sacred.

These scribes and pharisees proceed to demand a judgment of the Savior in an attempt to snare him. Jesus very appropriately turns the exchange to the crux of the matter: sin and personal worthiness. When pressed to answer, Jesus simply states, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." (vs. 7) Given those terms and conditions, no one dared to respond, and so they left the woman alone in the temple in the presence of her Lord and those he was teaching.



With this introduction in place, the Savior then goes on to explain how freedom from sin is predicated upon our belief in him. It is in this context of addressing sin that the Savior make such statements:
I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (vs. 12)

and:
 I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come. (vs. 21)

and:
I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. (vs. 24)
Now in context, this is presented as a conversation between the Savior and some pharisees that were present. At every turn it seems that they call into question the Savior's divinity. Consequently, as he teaches such a direct doctrine (and how else could he do it?), Jesus finds himself having to testify of his own self, to explain the way to escape sin and death. Yet even so, he is also able to point to the Father as the source of his actions, "I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things." (vs. 28)

This final statement creates a turning point in the conversation. Many believe on Jesus and thus the Savior's statements on truth found at the beginning of this post. They are ready to believe so the Savior teaches them how to believe.

This statement however causes them to question his definition of freedom. Jesus clarifies: "Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin"(vs. 34) and adds "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." (vs. 36


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