Go and Sin No More

by | Apr 13, 2011 | Spirit-Led Living

GOD’S GRACE AND MERCY CAN COVER US AND EMPOWER US TO CHANGE, EVEN WHEN WE’VE BLOWN IT BADLY.

At
this very moment, an ancient battle continues to wage between Satan
the enemy of our souls, and the daughters of Eve. Since the Garden of
Eden, this enemy has been unrelenting in his attempts to shame, strip
and dishonor women in order to challenge God’s work in their lives.

Sadly,
his most vicious offensives are often launched under the guise of
religion. Nowhere in the Bible is this more evident than in the story of
the woman caught in adultery. This account, found in John 8:1-12, is an
incredible and telling example of the cruelty of law and religion as
well as the beauty of God’s mercy and love.

I’m
sure you are already familiar with this story. But I invite you to look
at it again in a fresh light by imagining that you were there.

DRAWN TO JESUS
It
is the early morning, and in the dim light of dawn you join a large
crowd assembled in the temple court. You are waiting to listen to the
young rabbi, Jesus.

He is
different from the other teachers you’ve known. There is a gentle
strength and powerful wisdom about Him that the others don’t have. He
even condescends to sit among the people when He speaks!

Yet
controversy follows Jesus wherever He goes. The religious leaders hate
Him. But not the common people—they love this teacher, who pours out
healing on the sick and the afflicted as He speaks confidently of God’s
love.

You’re not supposed to
be in the crowd. As a woman, you really shouldn’t get mixed up in
controversial things. You have even been warned to stay away.

But you can’t. You feel irresistibly drawn into His presence. You must hear the words that He speaks.

In His voice you sense the voice of another. Could it be the voice of God?

“At
dawn He appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people
gathered around Him, and He sat down to teach them” (John 8:2, NIV).

After greeting a few in the crowd with hugs, He sits down to teach. You press forward to capture every word.

THE VOICES OF THE ACCUSER
Suddenly,
a disturbance appears on the horizon. Over the heads of Jesus and His
disciples, you see another group approaching. Their angry voices and
dark forms are struggling with someone who is in their midst.

As
the group enters the temple court, you recognize the robes and realize
these men are the town’s religious leaders. The object of their scorn
remains hidden until they reach Jesus and thrust the figure before Him.

A
disheveled woman falls at Jesus’ feet, clutching a remnant of
bedclothes in an attempt to hide her nakedness. It’s obvious that she
has been abruptly dragged from a bed of shame.

Where is the man? you wonder.

Not content to let her cower in the dust, the angry leaders stand her up for all to see.

“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?'” (John 8:3-6).

You
hold your breath. You want to hear His answer as much as the Pharisees
do, but for a different reason. Like every woman in the crowd, you know
that you have sin in your life—not adultery, perhaps, but other
transgressions that make you feel ashamed.

What
is the response of Jesus to obviously guilty women, such as the one now
sprawled at His feet? What judgment does He pass on those for whom the
law demands death?

“But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger” (v. 6).

At first Jesus does not answer the Pharisees. He bends down and writes in the dirt.

He
refuses to turn His eyes to the woman; He knows that in her fear and
shame, she would interpret any glance as one of contempt. He is not
willing to add His eyes to those now fixed upon her in judgment.

“When
they kept on questioning Him, He straightened up and said to them, ‘If
any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at
her.’ Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground” (vv. 7-8).

What
is it that Jesus hears in the Pharisees’ voices? Perhaps He hears the
familiar, accusing voice of the serpent: “You may cover her, but I will
eventually strip her of that cover and shame her again! She will never
learn. She will never change. She must die at Your hands—it’s the law!”

WHO IS WITHOUT SIN?
Jesus
doesn’t answer Satan’s accusations; He knows they will be settled soon
enough. Instead, with perfect calm He says that anyone who is without
sin can throw the first stone.

You
hold your breath. You know it takes only one person to release that
first stone. Then everyone else will simply follow suit.

“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”
(v. 9).

The woman flinches
at every movement of the crowd, but the first strike never comes. There
is no one qualified. There is no one who is without sin.

No
one except the One who is writing in the dust—and He refuses to throw a
stone. As the only righteous judge among them, He has come to save this
woman, not condemn her.

Jesus
remains silent as the woman’s accusers disperse in shame. In not
picking up the stones, they have admitted their own sinfulness.

MORE THAN FORGIVENESS
The woman doesn’t move. Even though she can run for cover, she waits, naked and ashamed, at Jesus’ feet.

What is she waiting for? you wonder.

And then, suddenly, you understand. After all, you, too, are a daughter of Eve.

You, too, have heard the voice of the accuser of your soul. The battle is yours as much as it is hers.

This
woman is waiting for something more—something from Him. She knows her
own weakness. She wants forgiveness, yes, but she needs more.

She needs release. She needs the power to live a new life.

She lifts her head to meet His gaze for the first time. In His eyes she sees forgiveness, mercy and love.

“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'” (John 8:10-11).

His
words sink deep into her heart, and she rises—released from death,
forgiven, freed from condemnation. She knows she has the power to turn
away from sin.

She begins to
walk purposefully down the very street she had been dragged through
only minutes before. The sun is shining brightly now. A new day has
dawned—a day that holds renewed hope and the promise of new life.

Jesus
watches her depart. Then He turns to you and to the others who have
witnessed the scene. He opens His mouth, and His words resonate like
music in your soul.

“When
Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, ‘I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light
of life” (John 8:12).

The
woman whose figure is now in the distance is no longer a daughter of
death and darkness but of life and light. Yes, she broke covenant with
God and fell captive to sin.

But
in the midst of her unfaithfulness, she encountered a merciful King.
And because of that encounter, her life was forever changed.

ONCE AND FOR ALL
Today
a treacherous enemy still drags naked and guilty women before a holy
God. Even now he throws our shame in the face of the King of kings.

“What
is to be done with these daughters of fornication and adultery?” the
serpent hisses. “Don’t they have a covenant with You? Why are they so
often found in bed with the world? How many times will You forgive them
and release them from the judgment of death?”

These are heartbreaking questions for a heartbroken King. It always pains Him to see His loved ones entangled by sin.

But He does not answer the accuser. He knows that at the cross, all his questions were answered once and for all.

Instead
He turns and looks upon us with compassion. He sees our sin and our
shame through eyes filled with mercy and love. The words of forgiveness,
freedom and release that Jesus spoke long ago to the woman caught in
adultery are the very words He speaks to us today.

What
sin do you have in your life? Is the voice of the enemy accusing you
even now, saying, “You’ve sinned too much, gone too far, stayed too
long. God will never forgive you. You deserve whatever punishment you
get”?

If so, allow these
words of Jesus to sink deep into your heart: “I do not condemn you. Go
and sin no more.” Embrace His forgiveness. Then, by the power of His
Holy Spirit, rise up from your shame, turn from your sin and walk into
the light of a new day in Christ.

Read a companion devotional.

Lisa Bevere
is a best-selling author of several titles, including The True Measure of a Woman (Charisma House).

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