“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
By Gary Wilkerson
I’m the kind of Christian who loves to fill my head with theology. And as a budding young minister, I loved raiding my father’s library. I read volumes on all the covenants God made with man, from the Noahic to the Abrahamic to the Davidic and onward to the New Covenant. One day I was in my study when I sensed a nudge from the Lord: “Do you want me to reveal more of my New Covenant to you?” Of course I did!
In the next instant, a child’s Sunday school song entered my thoughts: “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong, they are weak but he is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so.”
Jesus loves me—it sounds so simple. And yet I was overcome as if I understood God’s love for the very first time. The one word that leapt out at me was, curiously, “Yes.” Yes, he really does love me. Yes, the Son of God poured out his life on the cross for me in love. Yes, yes, yes, it’s all true—my heavenly Father loves me.
Those three words—“I love you”—are the crux of the New Covenant. If we really knew the Father’s love, not just in our heads but in our hearts, it would change everything. And John tells us we can know for sure whether we know God’s love. All we have to do is look in our hearts with this simple measuring stick: “Perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love” (1 John 4:18).
Do we fill our minds with thoughts of our Father’s love? Or are we preoccupied with self-judgment based on our performance? “Did I present the Lord well to that non-Christian? Was I nice enough to the checkout person?” No, no, no—God’s perfect love casts out all fear of performing well. And he replaces it with love.
In fact, it’s impossible for God’s grace and our fleshly fear to occupy the same space in our hearts. One will push out the other. If we know God’s perfect love, it will replace all fear, setting itself up at the center. And knowing his love leads to freedom. “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).