“’Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.’” John 8:10-11
Today I want to write about the first part of what Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either.” Tomorrow we will look at the second phrase, “From now on sin no more.”
The Pharisees witnessed an outward act of sin and were ready to stone this woman who they roughly threw before Jesus. Jesus looked at her and saw not just the act of sin but everything behind the act: the fear, the previous abuse at the hands of men, the financial need, the guilt and shame… whatever it was that brought this precious creation of God to this horrible place of darkness. This is why Jesus warns us about judging people. We simply don’t know all of what is going on in a person’s heart or the circumstances that are behind their present behavior. When Jesus saw her, He saw the reason that He had come. “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:17)
Jesus loves you and me. When He comes to our darkness it is not to punish or condemn us, but to call us into the salvation He has provided. When condemnation rests on our spirit we feel shame and guilt that only serve to keep us doing the things that brought the shame and guilt in the first place. If you think God is only saying in a stern voice, “Sin no more,” you won’t be able to stay free because the power of freedom is in knowing that He has freed us from condemnation.
Jesus gives the truth that frees us from the slavery of sin later in this same chapter: “The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:35-36) The slave’s place in the house is only secured by performance and so the slave lives driven by the fear of not being good enough. The way Jesus frees us is by making us children that know they have a permanent place. The key is first believing that we really are children, dearly loved by the Father (1John 3:1-3), and then living out of that identity. This is easy to agree with in our heads, but it’s only when it is real in our hearts that we find the power to “sin no more.”