Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
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May 16 – Using God’s Word For Evil

“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 8:7-11

Devotional Thought For The Day

This is the account usually referred to as that of “the woman caught in adultery.” It is not contained in the earlier manuscripts; so many Bibles no longer include it, eliding it from the text in favor of a footnote. However, Christians for centuries have recognized in this account what appears to be the authentic Jesus – and have considered it truthful in describing a real occurrence, despite certain difficulties that may have caused some scribe to exclude it from the text he was copying. There is no question that this text has been used to justify a wide variety of evils – and to recruit “Jesus” to the side of allowing and encouraging such evil behaviors.

There is no problem with the account, however, if we take it in context.  The woman was not condemned because she had repented and turned to God for forgiveness.  This is not explicitly stated in the text, but it is certain, for the principle is clearly described by John in his first epistle:  “If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us; but if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” [1 John 1:8,9]  So, even if she never verbally confessed her sin [which we don’t know, since her confession may not have been recorded by John], the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, certainly knew her heart, and was fully capable of properly applying forgiveness to her. Likewise, Jesus also knew the guilt and culpability of those doing the accusing, and their impenitence, and so how to send them away with but a simple sentence.

The worst use of this account comes from those who argue: “See, even Jesus does not condemn adultery, but rather condemns those who accuse others.” This is hardly truthful.  He tells the woman, “Go, and SIN no more.”  So, He clearly calls her behavior SIN and expressly instructs her not to do it again! He asserts NOT permission for this and similar sorts of sexual sin, but rather forgiveness in not condemning her.  As for the sin, He clearly condemns it and forbids it.

His disgust with and rejection of the accusers is for their impenitent and hypocritical posturing, and their attempt to harshly judge this woman for sins they were guilty of. It is true, that Jesus always condemned such hypocritical and self-righteous “judging.” Yet, in calling the woman’s behavior “sin,” He clearly judged the behavior. The accusers were not wrong in doing the same; they were wrong in their own impenitence and hypocrisy.

Fast forward 2000 years and people are still doing the same – impenitently and hypocritically judging others, without regard to repentance and God’s gracious mercy and forgiveness.  And sadly, people are corrupting what actually happened in this account to justify their own sinful behavior and to say that Jesus would also approve of their sinful behavior. Quite the contrary, if they are impenitent – committed to continuing in their sin; for then Jesus has no gracious words for them, but condemns their sinful behavior and their impenitence. His statement, “Go and sin no more” still stands, for each and every one of us – whether our sins are heterosexual, homosexual, or other sins of greed, envy, pride, misbelief, malice, or arrogance.

It never ceases to amaze me how our sinful nature uses the best things, especially God’s Word, corrupting, twisting, and perverting them to support us in our sinful deeds and especially in impenitence.  When this is done within the “church” [or other religious groups], a new level of wickedness and darkness is displayed.  The words and actions of Jesus in this account are perfectly consonant with truth, and easily understood in the context of His preaching: “Repent, and believe in the Gospel” [the good news, which in the face of repentance can only be God’s gracious mercy and forgiveness in Christ Jesus – Mark 1:16].  It is as John, by the Holy Spirit, assures us: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  And in the face of this gracious forgiveness and mercy, the word of Jesus still stands: “Go and sin no more,” regardless of what that forgiven sin might be.

Prayer For The Day

Dear Lord Jesus, forbid that we fall into the trap of using Your own Word to justify any kind of sin and wickedness, especially impenitence, self-righteousness, and hypocrisy.  Keep us mindful of the continuing judgment of Your Word upon all human sin, and of the assurance of Your full and complete forgiveness of our sins when we turn to You in repentance and faith. Help us to judge properly – the sin and impenitence; and to avoid all missteps into hypocrisy. Lord, have mercy. Amen.