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Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
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Read His Words Before Ours!

John 7:53-8:11

53 Then each one went to his house. But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

2 At dawn he went to the temple again, and all the people were coming to him. He sat down and began to teach them.

3 Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, making her stand in the center. 4 “Teacher,” they said to him, “this woman was caught in the act of committing adultery. 5 In the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” 6 They asked this to trap him, in order that they might have evidence to accuse him.

Jesus stooped down and started writing on the ground with his finger. 7 When they persisted in questioning him, he stood up and said to them, “The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Then he stooped down again and continued writing on the ground. 9 When they heard this, they left one by one, starting with the older men. Only he was left, with the woman in the center. 10 When Jesus stood up, he said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, Lord,” she answered.

“Neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus. “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.”

The Original Intent

1) Why did the Law of Moses command the stoning of an adulterer?

In Leviticus 20:10, we read the penalty for adultery in Jewish law: “If a man commits adultery with a married woman—if he commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife—both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.” 

Modern readers might wonder why the penalty for adultery was so severe.  David Guzik suggests “this was because of the exceedingly great social consequences of this sin. God commanded the ultimate penalty to discourage it.” 

In John 8:4-5, when Jewish leaders drag an adulterous woman in front of Jesus to be condemned for her sins, they are actually more interested in trapping Jesus than seeking justice. The Law is their proverbial playground because they know it backwards and forwards and every nuance in between. In prideful arrogance, they wanted to trap Jesus so they could prove He was not who He claimed to be. They wanted to either make Jesus call for her stoning and contradict His teachings about love and mercy, or call for her to be set free and contradict the law.

They cared nothing for the woman or her scenario; they simply were using her for their own benefit. Author David Guzik notes, the “rules for evidence in capital cases were extremely strict. The actual act had to be observed by multiple witnesses who agreed exactly in their testimony. As a practical matter, virtually no one was executed for adultery, since this was a relatively private sin.”  Jesus knew their intentions and used their tactics against them. 

According to author James Montgomery Boice, proving adultery “would be almost impossible were the situation not a setup.” So most likely the leaders did not have the appropriate evidence or had arranged a setup to entrap the woman in order to state, “This woman was caught in the act of adultery.” (verse 4)

Jesus told the leaders, “The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her”. (John 8:7)  Jesus knew none of them would remain to condemn her.

The Everyday Application

1) Why did the Law of Moses command the stoning of an adulterer?

I probably should have been a doctor if my illegible handwriting is any indication.  My third grade teacher even told my parents I would probably never have good handwriting.  When my aunt heard that, she worked with me on my handwriting homework, and my teacher was duly impressed with my improvement. Alas, I did not ultimately develop good penmanship. I had no interest in putting in the amount of work required.  One perfect worksheet took me hours to complete. Doing that on a daily basis would be unsustainable.

I think I would have the same exasperated attitude toward obeying all the rules in the Bible if I had to do it without the grace of God.  The Israelites certainly would have agreed with me.  There are 613 commandments in the first five books of the Old Testament, and the Israelites had a difficult time keeping them.  The penalties for disobedience could be severe, like death in the case of sexual immorality. (Leviticus 20)  Even so, the Israelites rebelled, and they suffered for their refusal to obey God. (Amos 3:2

God knew we needed a Savior, so He sent Jesus to fulfill the law for us (Matthew 5:17) and save us from our sins, a job we could never do on our own.  I am overjoyed that I don’t have to try so hard to do the impossible.  Jesus took my punishment so I can stand blameless before God.  His love, and the power of the Holy Spirit in my life, help me obey His commandments and give me grace when I fail. 

I don’t need to be perfect because I am washed by the blood of the Lamb! (1 Peter 1:18-19)

The Original Intent

2) Why didn’t Jesus condemn the adulterous woman?

Under Jewish laws (Leviticus 20) most sexual sins were punishable by death.  Since the law is clear, the accusers of the adulterous woman in John 8:1-11 expected Jesus to condemn her before everyone.  But He didn’t.  According to author James Merritt, “The reason Jesus did not condemn the woman in this story is because he was about to go to the cross and be condemned Himself for this woman.”

As author Jon Bloom explains, “Jesus was the only one in the crowd that day who could, in perfect righteousness, require the woman’s death. And he was the only one who could, in perfect righteousness, pardon her. Mercy triumphed over judgment for her at great cost to Jesus.”  Jesus did not come to condemn us, but to rescue us.

John 3:17 says, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” We have this amazing gift that, even though we stand before Jesus guilty of sin, He does not condemn us.  Instead, He takes our blame on Himself.  Jon Bloom suggests that “Every one of us, in a sense, is that woman. Our horrible sins — our shameful lusts, destructive tongues, murderous hatred, corrupting greed, covetous pride — stand exposed before God as starkly as in that temple courtyard. Our condemnation is deserved.

And yet, Christian, Jesus speaks these stunning words to you: Neither do I condemn you.  Why? Because he has been condemned in your place. ALL your guilt has been removed. No stone of God’s righteous wrath will crush you because Jesus was crushed for your iniquities.”  It is our joy to accept this gift and share it with everyone we encounter!

The Everyday Application

2) Why didn’t Jesus condemn the adulterous woman?

You can’t spend much time on social media without learning a little something about condemnation.  Rant about inconsistent sizing in women’s clothing lines and be condemned as spoiled and privileged.  Post a picture of yourself cheering on your favorite sports team and be shamed for not showing more enthusiasm for things that really matter, like animal shelters or feeding the homeless. 

It has happened to all of us, and all of us have done it to others.  We read a headline, form an opinion, and pile on in the comments with our two cents.  How strange it seems to us when someone offers to take on the condemnation of another.  We are used to laying blame, not accepting blame for something we did not do.  But this is what Jesus did for us! 

The Bible tells us in Romans 8:1, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.” This is because Jesus took our sins upon Himself on the cross, dying so we might live free from the weight of sin and the consequence of spiritual death. (Romans 8:3) 

Jesus was perfect and sinless (2 Corinthians 5:21), so He became the propitiation for our sins.  He took our place; the condemnation we deserved He bore for us so we could be reconciled to God the Father.  He did not condemn the adulterous woman in John 8, though she was guilty and deserved her punishment, because He came to save her from that sin.  He came to save us from our sin as well, and present us blameless to His Father. (Colossians 1:22) 

If you are a Christian, freshly embrace the fact that you are free in Christ!  If you have never known that freedom from condemnation, call on Jesus today and accept His gift of grace and forgiveness!

The Original Intent

3) How is it possible to “go and sin no more?”

When those accusing the adulterous woman were confronted with their own sin, they dropped their stones and left her at the feet of Jesus. (John 8:9)  Jesus did not condemn her either, but told her to “go and sin no more”. (John 8:10

Michelle Van Loon points out, “His stunning grace changed everything and gave her just what she needed in order to walk in His ways. Jesus was asking her to do more than avoid sinning. He was asking her to live out the mercy she’d received. He was asking her to forgive—and keep on forgiving—as she’d been forgiven. The only way she could leave her life of sin was by pardoning the man with whom she’d been accused of having the affair, her accusers, and herself.” 

Author William Barclay concurs: “Here was no easy forgiveness; here was a challenge which pointed a sinner to heights of goodness of which she had never dreamed. Jesus confronts the bad life with the challenge of the good.”  In this passage Jesus releases the woman to move forward in freedom with the ability to choose a different kind of life from the one she had been living.

The Everyday Application

3) How is it possible to “go and sin no more?”

Jesus has redeemed me and does not condemn me, just like this woman. (Romans 8:1)  But that does not give me permission to continue sinning.

Pastor Greg Laurie notes that God wants us to “leave our lifestyle of sin. It doesn’t mean we have to be perfect, because no one is. It doesn’t mean we need to be sinless. But it should mean we will sin less.” There are many Scriptures we can use to help guide us as we listen to the Spirit inside of us teaching us how to “sin less.” 

One such verse is Galatians 5:16, “I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh.”  Author David Platt suggests we can walk by the Spirit if we “listen to the Spirit’s Word, discern His will, and follow His guidance.”  

 Platt also asserts that “Christians must decide to walk by the Spirit continually, and at the same time the Spirit is at work to create new appetites and give new power to resist the flesh and to please God.”  Another helpful verse is Luke 9:23, “Then He said to them all, If anyone wants to follow after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”

 Reverend Billy Graham explains how this means “to put to death their own plans and desires, and then turn their lives over to Him and do His will every day.”  It is not easy to “go and sin no more,” but it is possible with the empowerment of the Holy Spirit and the leading of God as He makes us new!

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