Friday, March 17, 2006

Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.

They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, "All right, stone her. But let those who have never sinned throw the first stones!" Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.
When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to her, "Where are your accusers? Didn't even one of them condemn you?"
"No, Lord," she said.
And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more."
-John 8:7-11

Some of us say “I do not condemn you” and some say “go and sin no more.” I want to find a way to, as Jesus did, say both. We haven’t done a very good job of finding this harmony. Many of us, as the Pharisees did, see sin and we want to point it out and fight it. I don’t think that this is not a noble thing to do. The Pharisees had good intentions; they wanted to bring the Kingdom of God to earth. It was not wrong of them to hate sin, for God also hates sin. What was wrong in their actions was that they sought to judge. They wanted to rid the world of sin at the expense of banishing others and even killing them. They sought to cast the stone, to condemn.

There is another camp we can find ourselves in. We can become ignorant to sin, watching it occur and never bothering to speak out against it. We forget about or simply ignore the pain and the suffering it is bringing and we only focus on pleasing people by allowing them to continue destroying themselves and others. This side seeks not to change anything but to stay in their safe haven of security.

Both sides essentially lack compassion. Jesus did not. How can we live by these famous words; “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more?” How can we lovingly and truthfully say “I do not condemn you” and at the same time say “Go and sin no more?” And furthermore, how can our actions match this bold statement?

6 comments:

Mike Exum said...

Wes,

I am not exegeting, or even reading the passage for myself at this moment (no time just now), but a couple of things immediately clammor for my observation.

1) This text is an interpolation. We cannot actually study it in context really.

2) I think the Pharisees brought the woman in order to test Jesus. Therefore, it is not so much that they were hunting sinners as using them to test Jesus.

Nevertheless, I too, seek gracious ways of dealing with tough situations. I appreciate your desire to do that too.

However, I have been reading your blog off and on for several months and I have not read anyone ranting on homosexuality here. No one has sought to judge or rid the world of sin at the expense of banishing or killing. Rather, you have ranted that Christians in other places and times do these kinds of things, which is true. However, the dogs were sleeping until you stirred them. And even then, I am not convinced that any here were the ferocious kind.

What stirrs this up for you? Why this setting, and this way of raising the issue? Has it gone like you imagined?

I wish you well.

Many blessings....

WES ELLIS said...

Mike,
This post was not really supposed to be directly connected to the homosexuality posts. I am not accusing anyone here, on my blog, to be in the pharisee camp.

To be honest this post has more to do with me finding myself in the pharisee camp than anyone else. This post is for me.

I didn't bring homosexuality up to argue or debate (I should have picked a better title for my post). My blog is more for me to get my thoughts out than it is to argue over things. I did not anticipate the sort of debate we've been having. It's not how I expected it. I honestly thought that we could get away from the debate and agree that the Church is not treating homosexuality in a very responsible manner and then maybe find a way to deal with that. I have seen now that that is not as easy to agree on as I though it was. Maybe we can't get past the debate.

Please don't expect perfect exegesis from me all the time. I simply posted what I recieved from the text this time.

I'm hoping the homosexuality issue will quiet down on this blog.

Shalom,
Wes

Mike Exum said...

Wes,

I'm slow, but I'm hearing you. It is good to let that whirlwind go. Take a breather, let it rest. I will find relief in that.

Many blessings...

SteveW said...

It seems to me that the way many respond to "sinners" is....

Go and sin no more....then...neither do I condemn you.

Christ died for us while we were yet sinners. I wonder if we don't get the repent thing all backwards too. Maybe the repenting (changing of our minds) needs to take place more in the minds of those who demand change before acceptance. Maybe we need to repent of seeing God as angry against sinners rather than their redeemer.

It is very difficult to receive anything positive from another when they are pointing an accusing finger at you.

In 2 Cor 5:19 Paul seems to be saying that because of the reconciliation granted to the world through Christ, that he does not hold sin agianst us.

IMHO that is where we so often fail. We do hold sins against others.

Just my 2 cents.

BruceD said...

Is it possible that He was saying "sin no more", not referring to a command to which she must adhere... but that the Christ is arrived, and sin "is no more"?

Maryellen said...

bruced question is interesting.
Wes, does "Neither do I condemn you" mean "what you are doing is ok?" I don't think so. I think Jesus is saying that he isn't writing her off as lost. She's not a hopeless case. He is giving her another chance. We can not condemn because we can never write anyone off as lost or hopeless. But that doesn't mean we don't warn them that they are sinning, and should indeed "sin no more".
Some of Paul's letters seem to deal with the idea that people were beginning to believe that since we were saved by grace, we could do anything and still "get in". That they wouldn't be condemned by Jesus, as long as they had faith. Jesus' death on the cross wasn't God's way of saying, OK guys, nothing is sin anymore...relax