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. But 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."
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
(John 8:3-11; Romans 8:1-4, NIV)
I may surprise some of my friends with the content of this entry. I may also offend the sensibilities of some. But overall, I hope I encourage you to change the way you have thought and maybe continue to think about a few things. The substance of what I am writing came out of a brief exchange with an old friend. The topic is our attitude toward those around us who have committed some specific sin, the nature of which has become public knowledge within the context of a local church. Bear with me while I set the stage.
The young woman had been involved with a boy and the relationship had produced a child. They were both of legal age and decided to share living arrangements with a commitment toward getting married shortly. A person of stature within their church called them out (her specifically) and said that if she continued on to marry the young man, that God would not bless their marriage. He called her out for what she had done and wanted her to make a public apology in front of the congregation. Failing to do that and moving out, she would be turned out of the church body.
When the story was related to me, multiple thoughts went through my mind. I'm certainly not going to advocate anything that went on here between the young woman and her young man. What I will do is go back to the passages cited above in this entry and try to understand the whole picture as God sees it. You see, I'm of the opinion that Jesus didn't die to forgive our sins ... He came to remove SIN from the equation. That's a big difference as I see it. Sins (with the plural on it) are the individual actions that grow out of SIN (all caps) which is the inherent tool of the Enemy used against us. And God clearly states both through what Paul wrote and what Jesus said that SIN has been removed from the equation and with it the condemnation that seems to so freely flow from people, especially those I've seen in some sort of "spiritual" leadership role.
Sins aren't graded in God's eyes. Each event, each action, each rebellion my heart can conceive has been laid at the foot of the Cross and buried. SIN was erased completely and I now stand completely uncondemned. To force me or someone else through some sort of public display is to cheapen what Grace and Mercy are all about. Sure there are consequences, some of which may linger for a lifetime. And there may be times when a public admission is something that promotes healing and reconciliation. And I am by no means excusing some of the heinous acts we've all seen go on. But I am stating that all those fall under the same redemptive power God offers and we can all stand uncondemned.
The Crooked Path begins at the foot of the Cross. That Cross leaves me uncondemned. It doesn't leave me perfect or take away some of the temporal consequences of my actions. It does leave me redeemed because God has enabled me to accept His Gift. So before I go casting stones or demanding apologies, I would do well to remember my own condition ... and that I stand uncondemned not because of what I do or say, but because of Jesus.
- Do you have a judgmental tendency in you? What makes it flare up and try to take over your life?
- Do you feel condemned by people around you because of something you did or said? Does that make you feel condemned in God's eyes as well?
- Can you embrace the conversation between Jesus and the woman from the passage above? Are you willing to accept His complete forgiveness that leaves you without condemnation?