Chrysostom, a fourth century patriarch of Constantinople, was a great example of being free indeed. One of the stories attributed to him had to do with an occasion when the Roman Emperor demanded that he renounce his faith. The emperor’s first threat was to have him banished from the kingdom, if he refused to deny his faith in Christ. To this threat Chrysostom replied, “You cannot because the whole world is my Father’s kingdom.” The second threat was to take his life. Again he replied, “You cannot, for my life is hid with Christ in God.” The third threat was to take all of his treasures. His reply was, “You cannot, for my treasure is in heaven where my heart is.” Finally the emperor threatened to drive him away from anyone who may befriend him, leaving him all alone. Chrysostom had a ready reply. He said, “You cannot, for I have one Friend from whom you can never separate me. I defy you for you can do me no harm.” Chrysostom had learned the secret of living free under the most adverse conditions.
We do not face this kind of threat because of our religious faith. We are blessed to live where we can worship as we please. While we have political freedom, many of our people have not learned to live free. They remain enslaved to their own passions, habits and fears.
Jesus provided for us a way to live our lives totally free. He said, ‘if you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine, and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free…So if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed”(John 8:31, 31, 36 NASB). From these verses there appears to be three steps to realizing genuine spiritual freedom.
The first step is to believe in Jesus. In the scriptures belief in Jesus is more than an intellectual accent to the reality that He lived. Belief refers to the belief He was who He said that He was. It is the belief He is the answer to man’s sin problem. It is the belief He is the Savior and that through Him the relationship that was broken by sin can be restored.
The second step has to do with abiding in His word. While we have everything we need to live free, when we believe and receive Christ, we do not experience our freedom until we learn to abide in His word. When we abide in His word, it becomes the governing force in our lives.
The third step is to grow in our understanding of the truth. John 14:6 (NASB) reads, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father, but through Me.’” Jesus did not say he knew the truth; He said “I am the truth.” As our understanding of Him grows, we become equipped to truly live free, because He becomes the source of our freedom.
When we walk this path step by step we come to understand what it means to be “free indeed”. Chrysostom understood. Fear of death, loneliness, loss of treasure did not bind him. He found all that he needed in Christ. We could learn from his example.