Originally published as GO..and sin n’mor in May 2011
John 8:1-11 (English Standard Version)The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” … Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 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.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 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. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
Most of us have read this passage hundreds of times. We have heard sermons how we are not without sin and therefore shouldn’t throw rocks at people. Occasionally it is related to not pointing out the sand in other’s eyes while chucking planks at glass houses.
This is truthful and I don’t like rocks thrown at me so I agree with it, but that is not what has blown me away for the past couple months.
In verse 11 is a phrase that has been stuck in my head like a Milli Vanilli song…”Go and from now on sin no more” or as the 2011 NIV says, “Go now and leave your life of sin”.
No get down and give me 30 (pushups)
No 100 Hail Mary’s and 20 Our Father’s
No rewrite “I will not commit adultery” 400 times
No ‘sit in the corner’, ‘sleep on the couch’, ‘you disappoint me’ or ‘you are on probation’ commands
Go, Sin no more.
With that, Jesus implies that she is forgiven. That her sin is not worse than the Pharisees legalism. That whether or not she was guilty and caught in the act she is forgiven by grace. She was worthy of freedom and grace. That she was worthy.
As I meditate on grace and worth, it raises a lot of questions.
What were her previous offenses? How much were the holy men watching of the sin? Was she set up? How old was she? Where is the man? Who is the man? What was Jesus writing?
But here is the thing…
IT DOESN’T MATTER
You do. I do. She does. We matter to God and whatever we did last night, week or last summer…we are forgiven. We are worthy of forgiveness without 39 lashes. It doesn’t make a difference if we feel really bad—or really good—about what we did. God isn’t waiting for us to make a public declaration of fighting our sinful habits. We are created worthy. We are made whole and pure again in Him. And before I am called a licentious heretic…we are called to sin no more.
No longer sinning is a messy matter individual to each of us. But for me, it means that one sin does not create guilt for another sin. I am not condemned, not punished but instead worthy.
Since I have been growing and dealing with my issues as one behavior is under control another behavior comes to the surface. I recently bragged to a new friend that I am as messed up as him…”I joined a group a while ago with one issue and now I have 8”. Which is a lie…which is a sin…I only have 6, well 7 now.
But I am not condemned by God but set free by grace and given the power to go and sin no more.
I have been thinking about grace a lot lately. I need it. I need it bad. Especially as my nights get longer and days alone shorter. This was a nice refreshment to me as I wanted to post without 30 minutes of interrupted writing. Hope it touches you too. Share a story below if you desire.