Copyright 1994 - 2022 Bill's Bible Basics
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January 21, 2020
Last Updated :
January 21, 2020
Taking Scriptures Out Of Context, John 8:32: The Truth Shall Make You Free, World Says There Are No Absolutes And We Each Have Our Reality, What Is Truth Becomes Subjective, Brethren Who Twist Meaning Of The Scriptures, An Incident On Facebook, Martin Luther King Jr. Day And Black History, My Young Life And Exposure To Blacks, All Sinners Before God, Either We Are Washed In The Blood Of The Lamb Or We Are Not, We Are All One In Jesus, Famous Black Quotes And Distortion Of Bible Verses, Secular Knowledge Or Biblical Truth, What Jesus Meant By John 8:31-36, Jesus Is Only Way To Salvation, Free Through Jesus, Jews And Burden Of The Mosaic Law, Impossible To Achieve Our Righteousness By The Law, Break One Mitzvah And Guilty Of All, There Is None Righteous, Saved By Grace And Not By Our Works, Dead In Sins Without Christ, Come Unto Me All Ye That Labour, Jesus Came To Set The Captives Free, Beware Of Bondage To The Law And People Who Promote It, More On Blacks African Unity And Friend's Political Ideology And Corruption Of Scriptures
I have a beef; and it is not just with nonbelieving people of the world. It is with some of my own Christian brethren as well. My issue is with people who take some Bible verses completely out of context, so that the verse -- or verses -- appear to fully support whatever belief, doctrine, position or point they are trying to promote. I have seen this happen so many times over the years. One very clear example of this misguided practice is the following well-known verse which is found in the New Testament, in the eighth chapter of the Gospel of John, in the Authorized King James Version of the Holy Bible:
"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
John 8:32, KJV
Over the years, I have seen so many people -- both Christian and non-Christian alike -- quote the previous verse, and then totally butcher and distort its meaning. In the case of some non-Christians, they will most often quote the second half of the verse -- the truth shall make you free -- only, and then apply it to whatever view they happen to be promoting at the time. They won't even bother quoting the entire verse, much less tell you who said it, if they even really know. Some of them obviously don't know, as otherwise, I suspect that they probably wouldn't even quote the verse in the first place.
The obvious problem with this practice is that insofar as the nonbelieving world is concerned, there are no absolutes, and supposedly, we each have our own particular reality. At least that is what some of them want to believe. As a result, the word "truth" can be applied to whatever they want. In short, your truth doesn't necessarily have to be my truth, and vice versa. In other words, according to today's mentality, what is viewed as truth becomes a very subjective thing which is totally divorced from what the word "truth" really means in the context of John 8:32 as quoted above.
But what irks me even more than nonbelievers misinterpreting this verse and other verses of Scripture, is when I see some of my own Christian brethren who do know and understand God's Word, purposely taking verses and intentionally twisting them out of context, so that the verses appear to support their position. It was just such an incident which compelled me to write this current article. I was scrolling down my Facebook news feed when I came upon a particular graphic. This image caught my attention, so I decided to visit the actual page of the person who had posted it.
Upon arriving at their timeline, I discovered that they had in fact posted a series of graphics which each contained an image of a Black person, along with a famous quote that was spoken or written by that individual. Then I realized that the reason why they were probably doing that, is because it was Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Furthermore, analysis of the page suggested that this Facebook friend was more than likely a Black person as well. One graphic which this person posted contained an image of Frederick Douglass, along with the following quote:
----- Begin quote -----
"Knowledge makes a man unfit to be a slave."
----- End quote -----
To be honest, other than a few well-known names, I know very little about famous individuals who have become associated with Black history. It is not that I am a racist, or that I don't care about Black people. It is just that I didn't grow up in a Black environment. In fact, where I lived as a young boy, us Caucasian folks lived in one area outside of a major city, while Blacks lived in another section referred to as the North Side. Also, let me point out that there were only a few Black students in the public schools which I attended. So I had no Black friends, and I never interacted with Black people as a child.
However, as an adult Christian, allow me to point out that I really view all people the same. That is to say, regardless of our ethnic/biological heritage, we are all sinners before God. As such, we all require the Forgiveness, Redemption and Salvation which is freely offered to all men through faith in Jesus Christ. In short, the way that I look at it is either we are washed in the Blood of the Lamb of God, or else we are not. We are either saved Children of God, or else we are the children of the world. I am convinced that in God's eyes, our race is a moot point. If we are in Christ, then we "are all one" regardless of our skin color, as the Apostle Paul so wisely wrote in the following verse:
"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."
Galatians 3:28, KJV
At any rate, being as I didn't know anything about Frederick Douglass, I went to look him up on Wikipedia. According to Wikipedia, he "was an American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman. After escaping from slavery in Maryland, he became a national leader of the abolitionist movement in Massachusetts and New York, gaining note for his oratory and incisive antislavery writings." So the graphic my friend had posted on their timeline was clearly in regards to Black culture, slavery and related issues. It was not in any direct way tied to any kind of Biblical teaching. Yet despite this fact, this person chose to include the following personal comment with the graphic:
----- Begin Quote -----
Then you will Know the Truth, and the Truth will make you Free.
----- End Quote -----
In light of what I said in previous paragraphs regarding John 8:32, you can probably understand why I was irked by this. In other words, this individual was doing exactly what I said we should not do. He was taking a Bible verse and distorting its meaning by applying it to something to which it was not even remotely related. In case you don't get it, he appears to be trying to make an association between the "knowledge" of which Frederick Douglass speaks, and the truth of which Jesus spoke in John 8:32. However, there is no association whatsoever. As will become very clear in a moment, the truth to which Jesus was referring is in fact very different from the "knowledge" which that graphic promotes. All we have to do is read a few of the verses which surround John 8:32 in order to see this:
"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 . . . If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."
John 8:31-32, 36, KJV
So Jesus is clearly telling His Jewish followers that if they continue -- or abide and remain, from the Koine Greek word "meno" -- in His word, not only will they be His disciples, but they will know the truth, and it is this very truth which will make them free. So what is this truth of which the Lord speaks? Does it have anything to do with the "knowledge" that Douglass spoke of? No it does not. The truth Jesus is talking about in those verses is clearly explained in something else that He said six chapters later. Namely this:
"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
John 14:6, KJV
That is the answer right there. That is the truth that Jesus wanted them all to see. That is to say, that He is the only way, and the only path to the Father. He is the only way to Salvation and Eternal Life. There is simply no other way to gain Eternal Life, except through belief in Him. This truth is made rather plain in verses such as the following:
"Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
Acts 4:12, KJV
"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;"
1 Timothy 2:5, KJV
So the point I wish to emphasize here is that when we see the phrase "the truth shall make you free", we need to make very certain that we understand that it is referring to one very specific truth, and to nothing else. Why? Because God's Word is precise. It is specific. It is clear. It is on target. It is not vague or nebulous in its meaning. As we have now seen, that truth is the truth concerning the nature and mission of Jesus Christ as God the Father's duly appointed Savior of all humanity. It's the truth regarding Jesus being the only door, the only way, and the only path to the Father.
This little phrase "the truth shall make you free" isn't just referring to any old truth that we wish to dream up or assign to it, as the lost children of the world just love to do. The phrase is not referring to some truth that has been revealed about some secret government project. Neither is it referring to some truth regarding a particular political intrigue, or regarding some juicy rumor that has been hatched from a wild Internet conspiracy theory. Neither is the phrase referring to some misguided "truth" that is being promoted by New Age adherents. To reiterate, the phrase is just referring to one truth, and to one truth only. The tragedy is that when the children of the world grab ahold of this phrase and use it, its true meaning is totally lost. It becomes just a generic, ineffective throwaway phrase.
To continue, the Lord then tells the Jews that if they know and accept this truth concerning Himself, they will be free. Okay, but free from what exactly? Again, if we continue to delve into the Scriptures, we find a very clear answer. What Jesus is plainly telling the Jews is that the freedom He is offering them is in actuality freedom from the heavy burden of trying to attain to some state of sinless perfection, and righteousness, by keeping the 613 mitzvoth -- or commandments -- of the Mosaic Law. The sad fact is that none of them could ever hope to do it anyway. After all, as the Apostle James wrote:
"For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all."
James 2:10, KJV
Do you see that? A person could keep 612 commandments of the Old Testament, but if they broke just one of them, well, in God's sight, it was as if they had broken all of them. As a result, they were doomed. So it was a hopeless case from the start, and that was precisely the point. Those Jews could try as hard as they wanted to, but they would still never make the grade. They would never be able to meet God's standard of righteousness. They could never save themselves through their own supposed self-righteous works. They would remain dead in their sins without Christ, lost, and without Salvation. This truth is made so evident by verses such as the following:
"As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one . . . But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;"
Romans 3:10, 21-23, KJV
"But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away."
Isaiah 64:6, KJV
"They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one."
Psalm 14:3, KJV
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."
Ephesians 2:8-9, KJV
"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;"
Titus 3:5, KJV
"If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?"
Psalm 130:3, KJV
"But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap:"
Malachi 3:2, KJV
"For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven."
Matthew 5:20, KJV
"And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."
Luke 18:9-14, KJV
So, there just had to be some other way to attain to a state of righteousness in order to merit Salvation. As we all know as Bible-believing Christians, that one way is, of course, through faith in the Sacrifice of Christ. As Jesus told the Jews earlier in that very same chapter of John's Gospel, if they did not recognize and accept Him as their long-awaited Messiah, they would die in their sins, as we see by these verses:
"Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come. Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself? because he saith, Whither I go, ye cannot come. And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. 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."
John 8:21-24, KJV
So as I began to explain earlier, Jesus was telling the Jews that belief in His approaching Sacrifice was the ONLY way that they could ever possibly hope to achieve righteousness, and thus merit Eternal Life. They simply had to accept that He was their prophesied Messiah. That is the truth of which Jesus spoke to them in John 8. As we have also learned, by placing their faith in Him, they would be freed of the heavy burden of trying to fulfill every aspect of the Mosaic Law, in order to attain righteousness. The Laws of Moses had in fact become an unbearable yoke. It is for this very reason that Jesus said the following at the end of the eleventh chapter of the Gospel of Matthew:
"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
Matthew 11:28-30, KJV
To reiterate this important point, the Jews were heavy laden with the burden of observing and keeping the Mosaic Law. In fact, they had become spiritually blind, and they were being held prisoners by the Mosaic Law, and their misguided belief that they could achieve their own righteousness by keeping every aspect of it. But because they could not do it, they were doomed to die in their sins if they did not accept the Lord. However, as we read in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus in fact came to set the prisoners free, exactly as He told the Jews in John 8:31-32, 36. Consider this wonderful verse:
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,"
Luke 4:18, KJV
As I more fully explain in other articles which are listed at the end of this current article, the Apostle Paul wrote extensively about this very same subject concerning how the Jews tried in vain to establish their own righteousness by way of the Law. Just like Jesus, Paul warned the members of the young Christian Church to beware of falling back under the bondage of the Laws of Moses, and to continue to trust only in Jesus' Sacrifice for their Salvation. Consider the following verses as evidence of this:
"Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth."
Romans 10:1-4, KJV
"Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God."
Romans 7:4, KJV
"For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father."
Romans 8:15, KJV
"And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:"
Galatians 2:4, KJV
"But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?"
Galatians 4:9, KJV
"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."
Galatians 5:1, KJV
Returning to the original topic of this article, I hope that it is clear to you by now that the truth which Jesus speaks of in John 8:31-36 has absolutely nothing to do with the "knowledge" of which Frederick Douglass speaks in the image where he says "Knowledge makes a man unfit to be a slave." They are two very different and separate things. To attempt to equate them, as that person does on their timeline, isn't right. We should not twist the meaning of the Scriptures. In my view, by even including John 8:32 as a comment under that graphic, my friend appears to be intentionally politicizing the verse so that it seems to support his personal politics.
In fact, as other graphics on his timeline reveal, they are specifically Black-oriented, political ideologies which all center around Black culture, slavery, biological roots and African unity. If you doubt that this is so, consider that in another graphic which this person posted on their timeline, there is also an image of a Black man -- who I assume to be Marcus Garvey -- which contains the following quote:
----- Begin quote -----
"People without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots."
----- End quote -----
You will notice that this quote likewise contains the word "knowledge". However, in this case, it even specifies what kind of knowledge it is referring to. That is, knowledge of Black culture. Again, it has nothing to do with the truth which was spoken by Jesus in John 8. According to Wikipedia, Marcus Garvey "was a Jamaican political activist, publisher, journalist, entrepreneur, and orator. He was the founder and first President-General of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League, through which he declared himself Provisional President of Africa." So this graphic is clearly political in nature. Just like the other graphic we discussed, it has nothing to do with any kind of Biblical teaching. Yet despite this fact, this particular person included the following personal comment underneath the image:
----- Begin Quote -----
My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.
----- End Quote -----
Can you see what this person is doing yet again? Because the quote from Garvey includes the word "knowledge", they decide to include a verse from the Book of Hosea which contains the word "knowledge" as well. Now, on the surface, it may appear to certain people that this verse is somewhat related to the aforementioned graphic. But is it really? If you happen to be a knowledgeable Christian, or if you just take the time to open your Bible to the above verse in the Book of Hosea, you will discover that the "knowledge" mentioned in the image has absolutely nothing to do with the "knowledge" that is spoken of in Hosea 4:6. To suggest that it does is a distortion of the verse.
To reiterate, just like the previous image, this graphic is promoting knowledge of Black history, origin and culture. In contrast, the Book of Hosea is a prophecy against the ancient Israelites. It has nothing to do with Black people. When that verse says "My people", it is referring to the Israelites. In fact, Hosea chapter four, beginning with verse one, is about the Lord's anger with the Israelites due to their rejecting the knowledge of God and His Law. That is the knowledge that it is talking about. This is made so plain by verses one and six below:
"Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor KNOWLEDGE OF GOD in the land . . . My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the LAW OF THY GOD, I will also forget thy children."
Hosea 4:1, 6, KJV
So as you can hopefully see, just as they did with the first image, this person is perverting the meaning of "knowledge" in Hosea 4:6 for the sole purpose of promoting their personal agenda and political ideology, which clearly centers around African unity and Black people. Now, if you still have doubts about how they are intentionally using the word "knowledge" to mean something entirely different from what it means in Hosea 4:6, consider that in another graphic, there is a quote from Nelson Mandela that says "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." This person then adds their personal comment which states "Knowledge is power." So again we see that they are NOT talking about the knowledge of God and His Law. They are talking about worldly knowledge -- or education -- and knowledge of Black history.
Please go to part two for the conclusion of this article.
⇒ Go To The Next Part . . .