Theme: Forgiveness Leading to Holiness
In this week’s lessons, we see how Jesus offers forgiveness and new life through his death on behalf of sinners.
Scripture: John 8:1-11
Whatever the sins of those who would come in faith and believe on him, he died for all of them. He died for the sin of adultery, for murder, for pride, for anger, for arrogance, for rebellion, and for every other sin that we can and do commit. All those are the sins for which Jesus died. When Jesus, in compassion, stands before you and says, “Neither do I condemn you,” it’s because he bore that condemnation himself. That’s the gospel, you see, and that’s what these legalistic teachers of the law never understood. This is not to say that the law isn’t important. The law has a great purpose. It’s given by God. It points out our sin. It shows we need a Savior. But the law doesn’t save. That’s why Jesus Christ came, in order that he might save you.
There’s one more thing we need to see about it, and that is something that liberal treatments of this always leave off. Jesus said in the very last verse of the story, “Neither do I condemn you,” and then he added, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” Liberals leave that off because they say it doesn’t matter. They say, “Well, this shows that God takes a light view of sin. After all, he forgives without any thing further. But after extending forgiveness, Jesus said, “Now, go and sin no more.”
You know, I’m glad he put it that way. What if he’d put it the other way around? What if he had said to the woman, “Now go and sin no more, and neither will I condemn you”? That would have been works righteousness, wouldn’t it? He would have been saying, “Now, if you stop your life of sin, I’ll be good and save you.” Of course, that doesn’t work, because even if the woman had been able to stop that, she would have done something else, just as you and I do. But Jesus didn’t say it that way. He said, “I’m not going to condemn you because I’m going to die for your sin. Now because I’ve done that, go and sin no more.” That’s what produces righteousness, and that’s the only place it comes from.
If you find yourself saying, “Well, we’re going to promote righteousness in the world because we believe the law,” you’re going to find yourself doing exactly what the Pharisees did. You’re not going to have any sense of forgiveness. You’re just going to become rigid and legalistic, you’re going to condemn other people, and furthermore, you’re going to be a hypocrite yourself.
If you know yourself, first of all, as one who has been bought by the precious blood of Christ, the Son of God, dying in your place, bearing the condemnation that you should have borne, then you will find yourself saying, “Yes, and I hear his voice. He tells me, ‘Go and sin no more,’ and that’s what I want to do because I love him.” On another occasion, Jesus had an interaction with another woman with a bad reputation. She had brought a jug of expensive perfume, and she fell at his feet and was weeping, and wiped his feet with her hair. When she was chided for it, he said to his host, “Those who are forgiven much love much.” And on yet another occasion he said, “If you love me, you’ll keep my commandments.” That’s where morality comes from. That’s where righteousness comes from. If you are not living a high moral standard of life, it’s because you don’t love Jesus, and if you don’t love Jesus, it’s because you don’t know how much you’ve been forgiven. Perhaps you’ve never tasted of that forgiveness at all.
What our world needs is not more laws. We can pass all the laws in the world, and it won’t change anything. We have laws against every crime in the books now, and yet crime proliferates. Our country is becoming the cesspool of iniquity. What we need are men and women who know that Jesus died for their sin. And because they know that, they want to love and serve him. When Jesus said to that woman, “Go now and leave your life of sin,” do you think she did it? Do you think she obeyed him? I am sure she did. If ever there was a time in life later on when she was tempted to fall again, she thought of this event, and she said, “Jesus loved me, he forgave me, and I won’t do it because I want to live for him.” May we all discover that. That’s the very heart of the gospel and of the Christian life.
From the lesson, why is the law important? But what is it unable to accomplish?
Why do liberals conclude that God takes a light view of sin from this story? What do they leave out?
Reflection: Are there any ways in which you can slip into the problem of works righteousness, either doing something or not doing something in order to earn God’s favor and forgiveness, rather than living a righteous life in response to God’s gracious work in your life?