“… but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. 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?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. 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.”
John 8:1-11 (ESV)
The scribes and the Pharisees brought before Jesus a woman caught in adultery. They brought up the prescribed punishment according to the Mosaic Law. These men were not concerned with whether or not this law had been broken. Their goal was to trick Jesus into saying something that expressly went against either the Mosaic Law, or the New Law that He was ushering in (Matt. 12:1-8, 22:15-22 & 34-46). The power of the scribes and Pharisees had been diminished by Jesus’ coming and they would do anything to damage Jesus’ credibility in the eyes of the people.
Does this sound familiar? As Christians, we are constantly being tried against the backdrop of the world’s agenda.
When Jesus was asked what to do with the woman caught in adultery, He started writing on the ground. After persistent questioning, He finally answered. “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” Jesus was not simply saying, do not judge this woman. He was pointing a finger at their own faults; telling them to evaluate themselves before evaluating her. Matthew 7:1-5 is commonly quoted today by both believers and unbelievers as an excuse to allow others to live in sin. Well, Jesus told us not to judge, so we can’t call them out. Not exactly. Matthew 7:5 says, “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” We are told that if we are about to judge others, we must judge ourselves first. This puts us on an even playing field. We have all sinned and we will all continue to sin until Jesus comes back. Our chances of bringing others to Christ are greater if we acknowledge our faults before pointing out theirs.
The church has a bad reputation of being a group of self-righteous people who put on airs of being perfect, thus alienating anyone from entering our buildings who looks, talks, or dresses differently than us. We are no better than the scribes and Pharisees who brought this woman before Jesus.
At the end of the story, being caught in their hubris, all of the woman’s accusers and spectators left. Jesus proceeded to forgive the woman and allowed her to go on her way. A lot of people today stop the story there.
The scribes and Pharisees sought to trick Jesus into going against His own teachings. They sought to ruin His credibility.
This. Is. Happening. Today. Christians everywhere are being caught in the net of preaching one thing but living out another. They are attending worship services and teaching bible classes but are turning around and letting their children be influenced by a relative who is unrepentant about the affair they are having, or letting a “friend” who is homosexual stay in their house. What are your children learning when you tell them something is wrong and is a sin, but then allow it into your home? Actions speak far louder than words. Did Jesus forgive this woman and let her go without another word? No! He said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” He did not condone her sin. He did not allow her sin. He did not tolerate her sin. He admonished her to sin no more. We all sin, but to live in sin is a choice. Here, Jesus is telling this woman to choose to no longer live in sin.
By allowing those who choose to live in sin (but know what is right) continue to be an active and influential part of your life, you are telling the world where you stand. Your credibility as a follower of The Christ is called into question. You can still love someone and pray for them without allowing them to be an active part of your life. They have made their choice to step away from God. You must make your choice to step closer to Him. It is hard. We must choose God over everything else.
“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.” (Matt. 19:29)
“Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” (1 Cor. 15:33)
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers” (Ps. 1:1)
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Cor. 15:58)
“Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” (Phil. 1:27)
You are either with God or you are with the world. There is no middle ground. The world is full of “scribes” and “Pharisees” who want to discredit you; who want to discredit God. Jesus never backed down; He never gave in. Souls will not be won if we don’t stand for what is right and good.