Another verse we often quote out of context is John 8:32 – “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” The hitch is that knowing the truth is contingent on what comes before the “and.”
That would be verse 31: “Jesus said to the people who believed in him, ‘You are truly my disciples if you keep obeying my teachings.'”
They will be set free by the truth as they keep obeying his teachings, and so prove they truly are his disciples. In verse 51, Jesus adds, “I assure you, anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!”
Locked in prison, a lifelong criminal knows the truth, but he is not free. The truth is what landed in him in prison. However, let that inmate be transformed by the grace of Jesus and begin walking in obedience to God’s way, and he is free — in spite of the bars that cage him in.
Some people believe in Jesus (that’s who Jesus is addressing in verse 31) but do not keep walking in God’s ways. They are not free, even though they know the truth about Jesus. The full, free, and forever life belongs to those who keep obeying Jesus’ teachings. They are new creatures, truly his disciples, and they will never die!