Very familiar passage. We all know of the lady who was caught in the act of adultery, and was brought to Jesus by the crowd asking Jesus what should they do with her. Read it below before we continue.
John 8:1-11 …but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” (They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing Him.) Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Now, I’ve tried to write this blog for a good few months, but I didn’t know what angle to come from. So, now I just started writing. And it might be rather long winded.
Let’s dissect this passage for clarification. The characters were Jesus (the Way), the adulterous woman (a sinner) and the crowd (the teachers of the law and the Pharisees) along with spectators. (For everyone’s information, the Pharisees were the men who believed in God but didn’t believe that Jesus was the Son of God and the Messiah.) So there were these Pharisee men, who didn’t believe in Jesus, brought a sinner to Jesus asking Him what they should do with her. In the middle of the passage it says: They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing Him (Jesus). So, pushing aside that the woman was adulterous, their motive was to acutally denounce who Jesus say He is, which is the Way to get to eternal life.
Then Jesus doesn’t answer the crowd right away. (I’m assuming that He was giving them time to answer their own question.) But nevertheless, after much motive from the crowd to want to stone the woman, Jesus answers as calmly but firm “you can throw a stone only if you are sinless.” – paraphrased. Then He got quiet again, allowing the crowd to think for a minute. And one by one, they began to drop their stones where they stood and began to leave. Because not one person can say they are blameless. (This actually showed me that the crowd was at least honest with themselves. I guess that’s how it is when you are in the true presence of Jesus.)
Then, when Jesus and the sinner was alone, He asked her, “…soo, did anyone throw a stone?” and she told him “nope.”
The last part of this story is key. Jesus told her “I don’t condemn you. Now go, and sin no more.”
All Christians know there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. God didn’t give Jesus to us for Him to condemn us; for Jesus to come just punish the world for sin and leave. If that were the case #1 there would be no reason for Jesus to even walk this earth the thirty and some odd years He was here if He was just coming to send people straight to hell! #2 we wouldn’t have the gift of repentance, AND, #3 Jesus would have zero souls to bring back to God. Jesus came to fulfill the law, not to come down & punish everyone and go back to be with God in Heaven. Jesus was on earth doing mission work. To tell the masses that He was the Son of God, and that only through Him (Jesus) and accepting Him, you can have eternal life in Heaven. Jesus is the bridge between the sin of the world and God. There is no other bridge that will get to God other than believing & accepting who Jesus is. Jesus was the human sacrifice sent from God so we don’t have to live in eternal hell, Jesus came to bring souls to heaven!
Bringing it closer to home, as Christians we are not allowed to condemn anyone of their ‘sin’, or ‘lifestyle’ or ‘choices’ they have made or currently makes. Us trying to “tell on” people to Jesus, or even our pastors, so they can receive ‘wrath’ or ‘punishment’ is not becoming of a follower of Jesus. As a follower, we have the authority to correct, but not condemn. 2 Timothy 3:16, Timothy writes “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for 1) teaching, 2) rebuking, 3) correcting and 4) training in righteousness…”. SIN IS SIN. Regardless if someone tells you or if you read about it. SIN IS SIN. Regardless if you want to read about it or not. And God disapproves of sin. The Word of God (The Bible) can stand alone and is constant in regards to how Christians should live. Whenever someone comes to us to correct us, we can go to the Word to see the truthfulness in their talk. And it might offend, but as a mature/maturing Christian we have to accept for what it is.
Dissecting this story, as Christians we learn to:
….be careful of the people we try to approach when correcting. And ask yourself, “Am I even qualified to say anything? ”Did the Holy Spirit even tell me to say anything to this person right now?”
…recognize that before we try to tell about another’s sin, maybe we should repent ourselves so we can be totally blameless in correcting that person. Matthew 7: 4-5 says “How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
…hand it over to Jesus. When we correct someone, they may take it offensively and call it ‘judging’ but once the person is in defense mode, there is nothing you can do. Hand it over to Jesus and pray for that particular person. Let Jesus do the work in them. Continually pray for them.
Dissecting this story, as sinners we learn to:
….accept correction. If someone you know is truly a child of God (what they say and how they live match up) and what they say as correction you take as offensive, try to see it as correction and not condemnation. True correction may sting, but also should be some encouragement with it. Children of God are here to show others the way, which means they will have to correct those who they see in the wrong. Not as ‘judging’ but loving them to Christ. The biggest misconception people rant is “Only one can judge me is God!” This is true, however followers of God are sent by God to correct those that are blind by this world.
…know that no one is sinless. But that doesn’t mean you can continue in sin. Everyone has a struggle, and though every sin is different, no sin higher than the other. And we all will have to take into account every repentless sin on judgement day.
…be accountable now that you know what you know. Whether it was brought to you the right way through correction, or the wrong way, know that it was brought to you. So now you know what is a sin. And guess what? God holds you accountable. Jesus told the lady go and sin no more. God doesn’t hold you accountable for things you don’t know that is sin, but when you are encountered with it, you can no longer tell Him of your ignorance.
What do you think Paul was doing most of the New Testament going from Philippi to Ephesus to Thessalonia, Rome and so on? He was correcting and teaching those who are in sin to turn from it and look to Jesus and His ways. He wasn’t just going and spreading love and cheer, he was on a mission to those who have turned from God, who have turned from Jesus and those who didn’t believe in Jesus. He was loving them to Christ. He was giving them tough love. And going back to the country sometimes to correct the churches some more. He was on assignment to let them know the ways of the flesh, to let them know they will not enter the kingdom doing what they were still doing. But as you also see, Paul opened and closed with prayer, encouragement and hope.
The thing about it, those that are still in the world get upset and offended when they encounter a child of God, who may say some things that are of God, but they don’t agree with. Or they don’t want to change their lifestyle. So they go around saying ‘only God can judge me’ and ‘he without sin cast the first stone’ and ‘don’t judge someone because they sin differently than you.’ But what about that day when they are in front of God, with a whole slate of unforgived sin in front of Him? There’s no negotiation at that point. There’s no repentance at that point. It’s either do or die then! And I just hate the thought of a person having all the opportunity in their life to turn from sin, to be cast to hell because they didn’t listen to correction by true men and women of God on earth. That saddens me. Their only defense would probably be “But what about the grace?” There are people who fall from grace, a sad truth.
I hope this helps someone, as it blessed me writing it. As we correct those around us who are living a life full of sin, we must remember that everything we do, must be done in love. And as we are corrected from time to time, we must understand it as love and not judging. We must do better in the Body of Christ, on both ends of the spectrum.
*above picture from the Son of God movie*