Do Not Sin Again
The 8th chapter of John is the passage I want to share with you. Here is a case of injustice, and the scribes and Pharisees are using it to challenge Jesus, hoping to trap Him in some way. That continues today. Those who are the enemies of the cross because of the influence of Satan in their lives often set about to hinder the work of someone who is doing God's will.
John chapter 8, starting with verse 1 (Phillips translation): "Early next morning he returned to the Temple and the entire crowd came to him. So he sat down and began to teach them. But the scribes and Pharisees brought in to him a woman who had been caught in adultery. They made her stand in front, and then said to him, 'Now, master, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. According to the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women to death. Now, what cio you say about it?'
"They said this," the Scripture reveals next, "to test him." They weren't concerned so much about Moses' law and the keeping of it before God, but about testing Jesus. "They said this to test him, so that they might have some good grounds for an accusation. But Jesus stooped down and began to write with his finger in the dust on the ground." You notice He was in the Temple where He had been preaching. There was dust, and He could write in it. This gives you a little idea of how the floors were there.
"But as they persisted in their questioning, he straightened himself up and said to them, 'Let the one among you who has never sinned throw the first stone at her.'" That's fair enough, isn't it? "Then he stooped down again and continued writing with his finger on the ground. And when they had heard what he said, they were convicted by their own consciences and went out, one by one, beginning with the eldest.
"Jesus was left alone, with the woman still standing where they had put her. So he stood up and said to her, 'Where are they all -- did no one condemn you?' And she said, 'No one, sir.'
"'Neither do I condemn you, ' said Jesus to her. 'Go away now and do not sin again.'"
There are some very strong laws in the Old Testament with regard to adultery. For his grievous sin, King David, according to the law, could have been taken to the town square and stoned to death. The scribes and Pharisees knew, however, that though the law showed the hatred and the awfulness of sin, there was also mercy on the part of God. The penalty wasn't always exercised.
In this case, the injustice of the situation was so glaringly evident. A woman doesn't commit adultery by herself, and there was no man brought to stand with her before the Master. Why should he not be stoned, and why not first? He may have been the prime mover. Jesus knew their hearts, and He read their intent. In mercy to the woman and also to these continual irritants and enemies, the scribes and the Pharisees, he did not shame them but awakened their conscience.
Notice how He did that. He didn't say a word, but began to write in the dust. It may very well be that He spelled out some of the sins that their consciences needed to recognize -- maybe self-righteousness, a very common sin. After they persisted in their questioning, he finally straightened up and said simply, "Let the one among you who has never sinned throw the first stone at her." He, the Master Teacher, the Saviour, had awakened their consciences, and they went out one by one.
Jesus reached out to the woman who had doubtless sinned grievously. He didn't minimize her sin, but He was seeking to forgive, not to condemn. As we are told in Scripture itself, the law is the schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. When that conscience was quickened, she had a direct response from a loving Saviour. He wasn't there to condemn her; He was there to forgive her and to tell her to go and sin no more.
Now would Jesus ask her to do something that was impossible for her to do? Was He going to impose another realm of guilt for her?
Or is it possible that the Saviour Who didn't come to condemn us but to forgive us also will enable us to keep from sinning? I think the answer is "Yes." That is why the Saviour Himself says, "Be ye perfect even as your heavenly father is perfect." He wants us, through His grace, to live pure and holy lives.
If the Lord brings sin to your attention, and your conscience says you are guilty before Him, know equally well He doesn't do that to condemn you but that through His forgiveness, you can do as this young lady did -- go away now and do not sin again. The Lord is able to cleanse your heart and to keep you from falling.
Homily by Robert B. Dallenbach, 01-28-99