2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them.3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst4 they said to him, Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery.5 Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?6 This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground.9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.10 Jesus stood up and said to her, Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?11 She said, No one, Lord. And Jesus said, Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more [emphasis added]. -John 8:2-11 (ESV)
I found myself in John this morning, and read this familiar passage yet again. What caught my attention however was Jesus’ words at the end of the story. Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more. My guess is we all have that sin or sins that cause us our greatest amount of shame. Where or how we started to rank order our sins by degree of sinfulness, I’ll never know; for in the eyes of God, sin is sin is sin. Yet, each of us have those sins that once committed cause us to cringe more deeply than the rest and we allow our thoughts to turn to the old familiar feeling that God can’t or won’t forgive us this time.
So I like Christ’s words here to the woman who has been found in “that” sin of hers, that he don’t condemn her. I too realize this can be a very fine, mental line. Thinking that if Christ doesn’t condemn then I’m free to sin as often as I like. But that would be a wrong way of thinking. While Christ doesn’t condemn he also doesn’t permit the woman (or us) to continue living in the grip of our sin. He tells her to go and stop sinning.
It seems that the enemy would have us believe that once we fall to sin we are beyond redemption, so why bother asking for forgiveness, why even bother trying to avoid sin the next time it comes around. Simply give up and give in. Yet, when we look at the interchange between Jesus and this woman, what I see is freedom from not only our sin, but from the guilt that often times accompanies it.
Sinning is inevitable. We are sinful people, with a sin nature about ourselves. However, we need to position ourselves rightly, realizing that we are not condemned in our sin, but that we also must turn from our sin and live a life that is free from sin’s trappings. The enemy of our soul wants death for us, the lover of our soul wants life. May you choose life today as you strive to go and sin no more.