How do you feel about your personal sins. Are some of them not too bad? Are there some we have given up on trying to totally weed out of our lives, and have just learned to keep secret? Are there some that, if anyone else knew about them, we would die of shame? Or are you rooting every sin in your life and gaining victory over it?

In the Gospel According to John, there is the familiar account of the woman caught in adultery. Unfortunately, it is too familiar to us and we are tempted to skim over it, sure that we have gleaned all that we could out of it. But take another look and see if there may be more there for us today.

Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say? This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first. And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you? She said, No one, Lord. And Jesus said to her, Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more. (John 8:2-11 NKJV)

There are two sets of people addressed by Jesus here. The first are the scribes and Pharisees. The interrupt Jesus while he is teaching and cast her down on front of him. One wonders how a woman can be in the act of adultery and yet be alone. Ever wonder where the man who was also guilty? And how were they able, as religious leaders, to catch them in the act? I am just speculating, but I think the man was one of the scribes or Pharisees and they were covering this up for him. By trying to get Jesus to condemn her, they could kill the only witness and trap Jesus at the same time. In their eyes, it was a win-win proposition.

Jesus ignores them because he knows that she is already condemned, but that he would soon pay for her sin while shedding his blood on the cross. But rather than get into an intellectual debate with the religious scholars, he goes around there intellect and heads straight for their consciences. He forces them to reflect on their own sinfullness instead of that of the woman. And that is the initial reaction we should have as well when we hear about the sins of another. We have to remember that we, too, have sinned and deserve to condemned. The weight of their guilt becomes too heavy, and they can no longer hold their stones, and file away by age group — those with a lifetime of sin, followed by those just getting started.

The other me who is addressed is the woman caught in adultery and asks where her accusers are. That is just what he does when our sins are remitted at baptism. Satan, whose very name means “slanderer and accuser” has nothing with which to rail against us, for the blood of Christ has cleansed us from all sin. And based on the penalty that he would soon pay for her, he lets her leave. But he doesn’t just leave it at that. Unlike the religious leaders, she was already aware of her sinful state. Jesus tells her to go and sin no more. Implied in the original Greek is that he means to go and not do this sin any more. In effect, he tells her to repent. Forgiveness is not just a “get out of jail free” card. Change is expected. Not in order to be forgiven, but because we have been forgiven. That’s why he says it last, so she won’t think that her forgiveness must be earned.

We also, according to 1 John 1:9, can walk in a continually cleansed relationship with God. But that is not so that we can sin without consequence (see Romans 6), but so that we can start a fresh walk of obedience without condemnation from our past hanging over us.

So about those sins we spoke of at the beginning. Let’s get them taken care of at the feet of our Savior and go on with God!