Go and Sin No More

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    The Pharisees were constantly trying to trick Jesus or catch Him violating the law so that they could publicly humiliate Him. This was one of those exact situations. They brought a woman to Jesus who had been taken in adultery, in the very act (John 8:4). According to these people she was guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt and without question. According to these people she deserved the sentence of the law for adultery, which was death.

    So now Jesus is in a difficult situation. Does He forgive this woman and go against the multitude and their perception of the law, or does He condemn her to death?

    Jesus’ response is brilliant as always. He doesn't immediately respond, but instead he stoops down on the ground and writes as if He didn’t hear them. Only after their persistent questioning does He stand up and give them an answer. His answer is, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”

    Has Jesus just excused her sin? Has He given her a free pass? Has He ignored and failed to uphold the law? Quite the contrary. Jesus has just required that these people uphold the law. The law required that there be witnesses in order for an adulterer to be put to death. Deuteronomy 13:15 says, “One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.” So all Jesus did here was require witnesses before she is put to death. If she was truly found in the very act, then there should have been at least one witness willing to cast a stone. Yet if she was caught in the very act, then were was the man who was with her?

    When Jesus looked up there was none remaining except the woman. Without accusers, she could not legally be put to death. Yet Jesus knew her heart and her actions. Jesus knew she was a sinner. Jesus didn’t excuse her sin, but He would not be part of an illegal hearing and killing either. Jesus told her to go and sin no more. He didn’t excuse her sin, but rather required that she change her ways and not live a sinful life any longer.

    Jesus today has given His laws for us to follow today. He expects them to be obeyed. It is His words that we will be judged by (John 12:48) and if we really love Him then we will keep His commandments (John 14:15). Yet when we sin, Jesus is the one who can forgive our sins (1 John 1:7-2:3). The forgiveness that Jesus offers is not permission to sin and is not an excuse to sin (Romans 6:1). The forgiveness is Jesus giving us another opportunity to change. An opportunity to live as a new man, a different person. An opportunity to “go and sin no more”. The grace that Jesus offers is not permission to sin, but rather is freedom from sin for the one who is willing to change.

    We all will follow one master or another. Either we will be the servant to sin by living in sin and refusing to change, or we will be a servant to righteousness by choosing to live and do what is right. The forgiveness in Christ is only available when we choose to “go and sin no more”. Like the woman taken in adultery, we all need forgiveness, yet we must be willing to turn from our sin in order to receive that forgiveness.

    John 8:1-11, "Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. [2] And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. [3] And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, [4] They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. [5] Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? [6] This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. [7] So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. [8] And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. [9] And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. [10] When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? [11] She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more."